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Posts Tagged ‘suspected terrorists’

Meet Miranda: ‘You Have the Right to …’

In liberty and rights on May 10, 2010 at 12:20 am

 

There has been much to do lately about so-called “Miranda rights.” Specifically,  when they should be read and who should be read them. 

The truth is, there are no such thing as Miranda rights. There is the Miranda warning as established by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona.  

Miranda, once read, does not magically entitle a suspect with rights as in “the right to remain silent” and the “right to an attorney.” Rather, it simply recognizes privileges already established in the U.S. Constitution — specifically the Fifth and Sixth Amendments which guarantee suspects “the Assistance of Counsel” and from being “Compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” 

Actually, the purpose of the Miranda ruling wasn’t to protect suspects at all: it was to protect evidence obtained by law enforcement so that it may be admissible in court. Chief Justice Warren, delivering the opinion of the Court, said: 

“More specifically, we deal with the admissibility of statements obtained from an individual who is subjected to custodial police interrogation and the necessity for procedures which assure that the individual is accorded his privilege under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution not to be compelled to incriminate himself.” 

Miranda also provides a “public safety” exception where officers may question a suspect without first obtaining a waiver if they believe a person to have “information that could help save a life, prevent serious injury, or neutralize a substantial threat to property.” This exception was recently employed by officers interrogating New York car bomber, Faisal Shahzad.  

But Miranda doesn’t apply only to U.S. citizens. All arrested persons, before being interrogated, are read the Miranda warning. The Supreme Court ruled that “persons suspected or accused of a crime” should be read the safeguard. Likewise, the Constitution refers to “any person” and “the accused.” In some states, suspects who are not citizens are read additional warnings such as “If you are not a United States citizen, you may contact your country’s consulate prior to any questioning.”  

Chief Justice Warren explained the Court’s conclusion: 

“Today, then, there can be no doubt that the Fifth Amendment privilege is available outside of criminal court proceedings and serves to protect persons in all settings in which their freedom of action is curtailed in any significant way from being compelled to incriminate themselves.  

We have concluded that without proper safeguards the process of in-custody interrogation of persons suspected or accused of crime contains inherently compelling pressures which work to undermine the individual’s will to resist and to compel him to speak where he would not otherwise do so freely.” 

So when we’re talking about reading terror suspects their “rights,” it’s important to remember that these aren’t actually rights, but warnings to protect officers and, most importantly, evidence obtained. Miranda is merely a safeguard put in place to ensure the rule of law and promote justice.
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‘Rights Aren’t Rights if Someone Can Take Them Away’

In Individual Sovereignty, liberty and rights, politics, rights on May 7, 2010 at 1:25 am

Who says Congress is can’t come together for the common good?

Yesterday, in a rare display of bipartisanship, Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Scott Brown (R-MA) and Congressmen Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) introduced the Terrorist Expatriation Act.

It should be renamed the American Citizen Expatriation Act.

The bill aims to strip Americans of their citizenship if suspected of affiliating with a foreign terrorist organization and are apprehended abroad. It would amend the 1940s bill, 8 USC 1481, which gives the federal government the power to strip Americans of their citizenship if they choose to fight for a foreign military force. So far, the White House appears to not support the bill.

Senator Joe Lieberman, the bill’s main architect, wants to expand 8 USC 1481.

“Because it just seems to me if you basically declare yourself to be an enemy of the United States you’re no longer entitled to the rights of citizenship,” he said.

While civil liberties groups are rightfully crying “unconstitutional” and pointing to the bill’s disregard for due process, Lieberman’s remarks reveal a more serious, and dangerous, assumption: That the rights of Americans are dependent on their status as citizens and therefore, may be taken away.

Deceased controversial comedian George Carlin is rolling over in his grave:

“Rights aren’t rights if someone can take them away, they’re privileges. That’s all we’ve ever had in this country is a bill of temporary privileges.”

But the U.S. Constitution wasn’t meant to protect “temporary privileges” — it was meant to recognize already existing human rights. Having these rights declared in the first ten amendments of a document doesn’t make them valid.

Actually, the Bill of Rights doesn’t even bother differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Like the freedoms of expression and religious conviction, justice is not some privilege to be revoked. It is an inherent right — one that suspected terrorists own.