President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder take a play straight out of the neoconservative handbook with their newest stance on terrorism suspects: no Miranda rights.
The line of reasoning as I can tell goes something like this:
- All terrorists harbor information on the whereabouts and plans of other bigger and badder terrorists;
- Intense interrogation that potentially goes outside the realm of current American law is the only way to obtain this crucial information;
- Therefore, Miranda rights must be suspended for terror suspects in order to save lives.
This new stance comes after the attempted bombing in New York City’s Times Square last week by Faisal Shahzad — an American citizen. Obama and Holder want to suspend the Miranda rights for anyone – this means American citizens, as well – accused of terrorism or attempted terrorism. This wouldn’t come as much of a surprise had McCain/Palin won the election in 2008, but I find it troubling that it’s coming from the current administration. And after last month’s passing of the new immigration law in Arizona, it seems that the new status quo is denying civil rights that have long defined America in favor of strict and intrusive government oversight, all in the elusive and illusory name of security.
Those who cried fascism – Tea Partiers/conservatives/Republicans – during the implementation of universal health care should be screaming their heads off at this, yet I haven’t heard anything but support so far from those groups. I can’t help but wonder why — isn’t denying rights to American citizens at their discretion pretty much the epitome of big government?
Holder backs up this new policy with some lines that make him sound like the edited-for-TV version of Dick Cheney.
“We’re now dealing with international terrorists,” he said, “and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face.”
Oh, we’re just now dealing with international terrorists? What about Mohammad Atta, Richard Reid, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab? They weren’t Americans. Faisal Shahzad, however – the man whose alleged actions seem to have been the straw that broke the Miranda’s back – is an American citizen, so it seems that we’re actually now dealing with domestic terrorists. (If you don’t count Joseph Stack, the disturbed American who flew his plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, which many don’t because he wasn’t an Islamist.)
The conclusion that Mr. Shahzad was involved in an international plot appeared to come from investigations that began after his arrest and interrogation, including inquiries into his links with the Taliban in Pakistan.
“We know that they helped facilitate it,” Mr. Holder said of the Times Square bombing attempt. “We know that they helped direct it. And I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence which shows that they helped to finance it. They were intimately involved in this plot.”
Note that they got all of this information despite having read Shahzad his rights.
So, where’s this dire need for intelligence that can only be had by suspending Americans’ rights? And why are so many Americans clamoring for this?