John McCain and Joe Lieberman have introduced legislation which could force courts to release terrorists who attack the United States by making evidence against those terrorists inadmissible in court. This outcome is not their goal, but in a fervor of pathetic political pandering they have introduced a bill that specifically prohibits arresting authorities from reading terrorist suspects their Miranda rights. They also seek to give the military the authority to lock up anyone indefinitely. This is, in a word, idiotic.
The Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, perhaps better named the Terrorists Get Out Of Jail Free card, purports to deny Miranda rights to terrorist suspects and grants the military the power to detain anyone indefinitely as a high-value detainee.. The criteria for whether someone can be detained by the military as a high-value detainee includes such nebulous factors as being a potential threat to the US or the military, being a member of Al Qaeda or a terrorist group affiliated with them, “the potential intelligence value of the individual,” or “such other matters as the President considers appropriate.”
The bill comes as a result of the shameless political controversy stirred up over the underwear bomber, Farouk Abdulmutallab, being read his Miranda rights before he was questioned. Supporters of the bill gleefully shove their heads up their own rectums about the fact that terrorism suspects were also read their Miranda warnings under the open-torture Bush administration when arrested on U.S. soil (such as shoe bomber Richard Reid). They even read Miranda to US citizens arrested in other countries as terrorism suspects. In other words, the bill attacks a problem that doesn’t exist.
Supporters of the bill fail to understand that a federal law cannot supersede a provision of the United States Constitution. And those introducing the legislation should be ashamed of themselves because they know this. If a person is arrested in the United States, they have Miranda rights regardless of their citizenship. The only thing that can take away a constitutional right is a constitutional amendment. Nonetheless, John McCain and Joe Lieberman have chosen to put themselves in the spotlight for introducing something that will be rabidly popular among those who know nothing about constitutional law, while jeopardizing the prosecutions of terrorists in the future.
Because federal legislation cannot trump the federal constitution, the failure to make a terrorism suspect aware of his or her Miranda rights prior to interrogation would make any information obtained from that interrogation inadmissible in court. Let’s be clear on this. No Miranda warnings means no using that evidence against the terrorist. Now if John McCain and Joe Lieberman think that the officers should merely have a chat with terrorists, pat them on the head, and send them home with a cup of water, then perhaps this is okay in their view. But for the rest of us who want to see terrorists locked up in a dark cold cell, we want the evidence they provide to be used against them in court.
Ah, you say, but that is why the bill denies the terrorists access to the U.S. courts by letting the military throw them into the Terrorist Star Chamber and then into a hole forever. This part of the bill is inspired by the Obama administration’s attempt to close Guantanamo and set up 9/11 trials in New York, which hasn’t gone too well so far. While the process of conducting terrorist trials may be complex, that doesn’t mean we should grant the government the power to just lock up anyone it considers a threat. Do you really want the government to be able to lock up anyone it considers a “threat,” with that person having no ability to challenge the detention in court? You think that won’t get out of hand? Talk to some Japanese-Americans who were around during World War II and see what they have to say on the subject.
The bill specifically authorizes the government to detain people “without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported.” In other words, forever. While this legislation no doubt will be popular among the tea party folks (who, from a philosophical standpoint, should be the people most opposed to it) perhaps they and Senator Lieberman need to be reminded of the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller about the rise of the Nazi’s in Hitler’s Germany:
“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
If there has ever been a time in your life when you disagreed with the government, you should understand that you don’t want the government to have the power to lock you up and make you disappear. And if you understand that a terrorist arrested on US soil is eventually going to get access to the court system, no matter how many barriers you put in the path, then you want to make sure that the evidence you have against the bastard can be used in court. Any criminal defense lawyer can tell you that reading Miranda to a criminal suspect rarely causes a person not to incriminate himself anyway. Miranda has been around a long time, and yet people still confess to murders, rapes, robberies, and all sorts of other crimes every day.
Before you go championing this ill-conceived piece of legislation, please be advised that you are providing aid to the terrorists. By supporting this bill, you support the enemies of the United States by making it easier to get away with attacking us. John McCain and Joe Lieberman will free the terrorists who attack us because evidence obtained from interrogating them will become inadmissible in court. Let them try to explain that at their next tea party.
For more information:
Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010 (download pdf of the bill)