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Sen. Lindsay Graham Calls Miranda Rights “Counterproductive”

by @ 5:15 pm on May 5, 2010. Filed under Homeland Security, Individual Liberty, Politics, War On Terror

The trifecta is complete. First, we had John McCain objecting to abiding by the Fifth Amendment. Then, Joe Lieberman decided it was a good idea to threaten to strip U.S. Citizenship from people merely accused of a crime. Now, Lindsay Graham has joined the crowd:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wants to allow the government to interrogate U.S. citizens suspected of terrorism without warning them of their right to remain silent—a proposal that would dramatically rewrite the rules regarding suspects captured inside the United States.

“Miranda warnings are counterproductive in my view,” Graham said at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing Wednesday.

“The homeland is part of the battlefield. So this idea that you get to America, the rules dramatically change, to the benefit of the suspect – the terrorist – makes no sense,” he said.

Graham told POLITICO he is working on legislation that would redefine the so-called “public safety exemption” to Miranda warnings. Under current law, police can question a suspect to obtain admissible evidence without informing them of their rights if they believe that there is an “exigent danger” – like a ticking time bomb — that another crime is about to be committed.

“What I would suggest as a good compromise is that the public safety exemption be redefined…so law enforcement can go to a judge somewhere and make the case that the detainee is a suspected member of Al Qaeda or the Taliban and have the judge approve continued interrogation without Miranda rights,” Graham said.

I don’t even know where to begin.

We now have three United States Senators, and one Congressman, actively promoting the idea of stripping American citizens of their Constitutional rights based on a mere allegation of wrongdoing. And that’s after an unsuccessful attack. Could you imagine what they’d be saying if Faisal Shahzad had somehow managed to detonate his bomb (leaving aside the fact that it now appears that there was no way the bomb was ever going to detonate) ?


GRAHAM: I want to stop reading these guys their Miranda rights. Me and Peter are so much on board here. … Nobody in their right mind would expect a Marine to read someone caught on the battlefield their rights. You catch them and you interrogate them lawfully to gather intelligence. Your special unit is probably the best in the world at this, but I don’t think it’s smart for us to say the homeland is not part of the battlefield.

You get to America, you get a much better deal, you get rewarded. If you can be caught in Pakistan, intelligence-gathering can happen with intelligence agencies without your Miranda warnings being given. Why should you get a better deal when you get here? Even if you’re an American citizen helping the enemy, you should be viewed as a potential military threat, not some guy who tried to commit a crime in Times Square.

So I look forward to working with the New York City Police Department, the mayor of New York, Peter King, to devise a law that recognizes we’re at war. … [T]hat you would have the opportunity to hold this suspect, because they represent a military threat to our country even though they’re a citizen, and be able to gather intelligence before you did anything else. … So we need a law that would allow you to go to a judge somewhere — like a FISA judge — and hold a suspect like this and working with the intelligence officials of this country, to gather intelligence, and then make a good prosecutorial decision.

9 Responses to “Sen. Lindsay Graham Calls Miranda Rights “Counterproductive””

  1. John Curran says:

    When I was a kid, I can remember congressmen & senators arguing about whether a proposed law was constitutional. That discussion has not happened in Congress for at least 40 years. They pass laws without regard to the constitution and this congress has members who have stated publicly that they don’t care what the constitution says, they are going to pass the law; in this case, health care reform. Their willingness to take our republic away and give us a police state is really beginning to bother me.

    This current terror campaign is religious in nature. Even if the parties are insane, they use their religion to justify their methods. I have not seen one Muslim imam, intellectual, or official of any kind denounce what the Pakistani tried to do in New York last weekend. Our government needs to address this in public. Where is the outrage in the ummah? I don’t think it’s there. Silence is assent. Until our government realizes this, we will continue to have our representatives try to take away our rights to solve a problem they can’t even define. I used to think of them as stupid. I am now leaning toward criminal.

  2. James Young says:

    Whether it’s “productive” or not is certainly a debatable point. Whether they’re constitutionally required is likewise, certainly, a debatable point, since the Republic managed to survive for over a century and a half without it.

    I think they’re both. But it’s certainly a point over which reasonable minds may differ, and should not provoke belittling comments about those who dare to raise it.

  3. sookie says:

    What could go wrong?!?!?

  4. tfr says:

    A few of these guys are gonna walk based on this, if they actually have the cajones to pass it.

  5. Robert in SF says:

    Someone chime in here, who’s a lawyer, or has confidently accurate sources, but you can be arrested and prosecuted without being read your miranda rights can’t you? If the prosecution doesn’t need your testimony, or answers to any questions to convict you, then if they send you a lawyer, they are covered.

    Right to remain silent, we can use anything you say against you, and right to attorney…isn’t that it?

    If we have video of him running away from the car we see him park and get out off, if we have his name on the title, if we have eye witeness testimony from the seller of the bomb making materials that it was this guy, if we have his fingerprints all over the place…then his miranda rights haven’t been abused, regardless if he has been informed or not….

    I don’t think you automatically throw out cases based on this, I think you would have to throw out evidence if it was obtained in violation of the miranda rights not being known…you know what I am trying to say.

    So, just because someone is/is not read their miranda warning might not affect the prosecution/conviction at all…

  6. The short answer is that yes you could be arrested without being given Miranda warnings, but anything you say to police w/o Miranda warnings and a clear and explicit waiver of your right to remain silent would not be admissible against you in court

  7. No Last Call says:

    Innocent Until Proven Guilty: How People Give Up Their rights…

    “Any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances.” – 1949 opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson. Yes the very same supreme court that is the l…

  8. No Last Call says:

    Right to Remain Silent GONE!!! U.S. Supreme Court Says…

    This decision is wrong at the very core. How could 5 men in good conscious deliver such a heinous ruling. It is not even up for interpretation that a man need not assert their rights. The right was asserted 200 years ago…….

  9. LOLOL says:

    Nothing pisses a policeman off more than knowing your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer BEFORE he tells you your rights. Apparently these little golden rights are not so well-known as they appear.

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