After almost five years of blogging, I admit to a certain cynical level of outrage fatigue. I expect politicians to be pandering asses and I expect journalists to be stenographers at best. But this moment on Meet The Press kicked my butt out of my complacency and squarely right back to outrage.
One of the newer memes that Republicans have been floating to paint the Democrats (and in particular, this administration) as weak on terror and defense is to suggest that by giving a suspect his Miranda rights is to somehow weaken our ability to catch terrorists.
Excuse me, but WTF???? So following the "rule of law" (something that the Republicans claim they are for) is now making us weak? By what measure? The insinuation is that these suspects clam up when they know they have a right to remain silent. Well, do we think they don't know that already? Gregory apes the RWNJ of saying that once a suspect is "lawyered up", our ability to get information stops. Even with Holder confirming that Shahzad continues to talk to authorities after acknowledging his Miranda rights, somehow this is still a concern?
Let's be clear. Shahzad, despite his alleged attempted acts, is an American citizen. That he has a Middle-Eastern surname does not mean that his rights as an American should be forfeited. Was there discussion of not giving Roeder his Miranda rights when he killed Dr. Tiller? Or Tim McVeigh when he successfully bombed the Murrah Building? Why not? The "changing nature" of the threats we face is not limited to the color of someone's skin. And even more importantly, not every person arrested is guilty of the crime of which they are accused. Can we really say that modifying Miranda rights on a case by case basis will result in better justice?
Proving once again that the White House responds to those who are the loudest and most fear-mongering over what's right and most grounded in our justice system, this law is an affront to all Americans. If any citizen's rights can be adjusted like this, we are all threatened by it.
Transcripts below the fold:
DAVID GREGORY: You issued a Miranda warning to Shahzad . The right to remain silent. At which point a lot of defendants-- suspects could get a lawyer. You did that after eight hours. And after you had already gotten him talking. There's criticism about injecting the possibility that a suspect will not provide intelligence if you give them that Miranda warning. Take me through that process of what the balancing test is before Miranda is actually issued.
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: Well, I wouldn't say that we talked to him for eight hours without giving his Miranda warning. But-- aside from that-- what you do is you use the public safety exception that the Supreme Court has defined. To make sure that there are no immediate threats.
GREGORY: A quote unquote "ticking time bomb" scenario.
HOLDER: Ticking time bomb. And then you make the determination-- whether or not it is appropriate. Whether you think that giving Miranda warnings to that person is gonna stop the flow of information or whether the flow of information will continue. And you make the determination, in this particular case, is it more important for us to get intelligence from this person. Or is it more important for us to-- build the case? One of the things that we have certainly seen is that the giving of Miranda warnings has not stopped these terrorist suspects from talking to us. They have continued to talk even though we have given them-- Miranda warnings.
GREGORY: Is that still the case here, with Shahzad ?
HOLDER: That's clearly the case. He-- was given his Miranda warnings-- after the public safety exception questioning-- was finished. And he has talked to us. And he continues to talk to us.
GREGORY: But would you like interrogators to have more flexibility?
HOLDER: exception was really based on a robbery that occurred-- back in the '80s and-- something to do with a supermarket. We're now dealing with international terrorism. 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.
GREGORY: So, let me-- let me unpack that a little bit. What you'd like to see happen is that Congress would pass a law that would say to judges, "Hey, look, in this environment, if we extract information that could be valuable intelligence about another terror plot, about who they're involved in. Whether they're connected to the Pakistani Taliban. We want to get all that without them lawyering up and still be able to use that against them in a court of law." And you need more flexibility to do that, you think?
HOLDER: Yeah, we certainly need more flexibility. And we want the public safety exception to be consistent with-- the public safety concerns that we now have in the 21st Century, as opposed to the public safety concerns that we had back in the 1980s.
GREGORY: So, that's news. I mean, that's an important development. Would you work with Congress to try to get that new law passed?
HOLDER: Yeah, we want to work with Congress to come up with a way in which we make our public safety exception more flexible. And again, more consistent with the threat-- that we face. And yes, this is in fact the big news. This is a proposal that-- we're gonna be making and that we want to work-- with Congress about.
GREGORY: So, a new priority for the administration.
HOLDER: It is a new priority.