Why Do The Republicans Love to Hate Miranda?

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

abuAhmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.

As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.

Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of  the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam.  Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled.  According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.”

Against this political backdrop, Abu Khatallah’s handling had high stakes politically as well as serious system of justice ramifications. His questioning began without benefit of his Miranda rights and like so many alleged terrorists, Abu Khatallah couldn’t stop talking. He kept talking, denying his role, but doing the “tell-all” about everyone else he knew even after his was read Miranda warnings.  Miranda, as most folks know, harkens the landmark Supreme Court case declaring criminal suspects must be advised of their constitutional rights to counsel and against self-incrimination before questioning. The ruling led to the exclusionary rule which bars evidence obtained in violation of this notice. Though steadily chipped away at by conservative courts since the opinion was written it’s been more or less the law of the land since it bubbled up from Arizona in 1966.

Though a darling of civil libertarians since its uttering it’s been just as much a step-child to Republicans. Nixon and Reagan both ran against the idea of so-called  Miranda rights and countless other Republicans saw it as a boon for the guilty based on a “technicality” summarized ever so succinctly by Boston Police Commissioner  Edmund  “Big Ed” McNamara who noted his frustration saying, “Criminal trials no longer will be a search for the truth, but a search for technical error.” The furor died down but the sentiment in Republican circles to eliminate Miranda continued. Republican dominated courts joined in confirming numerous exceptions including the public safety exception which allowed the dispensing of Miranda warnings by the police interrogators  if  ” necessary to secure their own safety or the safety of the public.” That case involved a gun hidden in a supermarket by a robbery suspect that could have been found by children. But like so many cases where the facts seem to justify the principle espoused, other facts don’t fit so easy with our sense of justice and fair play.

Fast forward now to modern-day and the so-called War on Terror.  Republicans seized on Miranda again shortly after the 9/11 jet attacks to insist on a weakened protections for terror suspects. A national debate ensued over enemy combatants versus criminal suspects. What were terrorists? International criminals bent on havoc or a non-uniformed army who declared war on the US and its allies ? President George Bush chose the latter and the war on terrorists and Miranda was back front and center. Republicans have consistently decried Miranda protections even on those occasions when suspects were processed in American courts rather than the military tribunal system handled by the US armed forces for enemy combatants in the holding center at Guantanamo Bay. There in a not-so-distant US military base,  Miranda rights are  just a pipe dream.

Since 2001, Republicans have mounted  a constant drumbeat against Miranda protections for terror suspects. In 2010,  Republicans from every quarter decried the use of Miranda in the interrogation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man behind the failed Christmas Day airline bombing plot. The Huffington Post reports that Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) said of the news that Shahzad was cooperating even after getting his Miranda rights read to him:  “That is a stroke of good luck. What if he had not waived them and just quit talking, said ‘I want my lawyer’?”

“Maybe we got lucky and [Shahzad] said I will go ahead and talk to you anyway,” said another Senate Republican, Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), after learning the same. “But you didn’t know that when you read [him] the rights. So I stand by what I said — it is better in these kinds of cases to get the intelligence first and then, if you decide you want to proceed with an Article 3 prosecution, then read the Miranda rights.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) went further writing in a letter to Holder that, “We remain deeply troubled that this paramount requirement of national security was ignored — or worse yet, not recognized — due to the administration’s preoccupation with reading the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda rights.” Preoccupation with constitutional rights a bad thing? For Senate Republicans it surely was.

In March 2011, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, filed the Ensuring the Collection of Critical Intelligence Act of 2011, which required the Justice Department to consult with the director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense before giving terrorists Miranda rights. That bill died in committee, but nearly identical language was included in the 2012 defense authorization bill which said in part, that before seeking an indictment or otherwise charging an individual in a federal court, the Attorney General shall consult with the director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of Defense about “whether the more appropriate forum for prosecution would be a federal court or a military commission; and whether the individual should be held in civilian custody or military custody pending prosecution.” This was an end run around Miranda by diverting a suspect to the nearly Miranda-free zone of the military commissions. It also made the charging decision a political one rather than one based on the nature of the acts of the suspect.

In 2013, in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) demanded answers from Attorney General Eric Holder on why the DOJ allowed a magistrate judge to inform terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev of his Miranda rights while the FBI was in the midst of interrogating him earlier this week.  Sounding apoplectic, ex-FBI agent  Rogers said, “We can’t have, in a case like this, the judiciary deciding, because it’s on TV and it might look bad for them … that they were going to somehow intercede in this. It’s confusing, it is horrible, [a] God-awful policy, and dangerous to the greater community,” he said. “And we have got to get to the bottom of this, and we’ve got to fix it right now.” Ok, then. How about an aspirin or a quaalude  there Mister Agent Rogers? By the way, Tsarnaev talked, too.

Now in 2014, Republicans are still complaining about reading Miranda rights to suspects who still decide to talk. “I have serious concerns that conducting a rushed interrogation onboard a ship and then turning Abu Khatallah over to our civilian courts risks losing critical intelligence that could lead us to other terrorists or prevent future attacks,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said in a statement. Criminal defense lawyer … yep I said that right … South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham chimed in  that, “If they bring him to the United States, they’re going to Mirandize this guy, and it would be a mistake for the ages to read this guy his Miranda rights.” Graham must be the most conflicted man in Washington DC and that takes some doing.

In its defense to following the constitution, the White House has pointed out that “they have successfully tried a number of terrorists domestically and that no new captives have gone to the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in years.” Not exactly a “Four score and twenty years ago” defense of  the union or the constitution that makes it so, but it’s a start.

Abu Khatallah was appointed a public defender, Michele Peterson. He was ordered to remain in custody until hearings set for Wednesday and Friday. No comment yet from Republicans yet on  that announcement or whether Gideon v. Wainwright is yet another liberal impediment to the War on Terror.

The American public’s reaction is mixed to Miranda protections for terror suspects with just about 51% in favor. What do you think?

Source: CNN

~Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor


By the way and for better or worse, the views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not necessarily those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art is solely the author’s decision and responsibility. No infringement of intellectual property rights is intended and will be remedied upon notice from the owner. Fair use is however asserted for such inclusions of quotes, excerpts, photos, art, and the like.



153 thoughts on “Why Do The Republicans Love to Hate Miranda?”

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  2. RTC:

    What do you think individual rights mean? It is a 2 way street. It isnt a license for stepping on other people.

    “It is not society, nor any social right, that forbids you to kill—but the inalienable individual right of another man to live. This is not a “compromise” between two rights—but a line of division that preserves both rights untouched. The division is not derived from an edict of society—but from your own inalienable individual right. The definition of this limit is not set arbitrarily by society—but is implicit in the definition of your own right.

    Within the sphere of your own rights, your freedom is absolute.”

    Ayn Rand

    “I think human rights are inherent to our being.” No, you really dont or you would be against government providing for other people. I am totally against government providing people with their livelihood but I am not against private charity.

    When you spend one month or one day of your life or one hour of your life in forced work for someone else, you are not a free man. I am not talking about legitimate functions of government like police or the military or the court system but the payment to people who dont work for a living. I have sympathy for those who cannot work due to forces beyond their control but for people who can work and would rather take a government check, not so much. They are violating my right to my life and the work which I do is not theirs, it is mine.

    If you were born with an average IQ and can only dig ditches, then do so and shut the fuk up about how I owe you a living. You are violating my right to the sweat of my brow, which no man has a right to but me.

  3. Schulte: “there is really no free anything. We all pay for it somehow.”

    There was a time when I’d be inclined to disagree with you on this, but having thought about it, you might be right. At one time I took it for granted that clean air and water were freely given of God’s good will. But we don’t drink the water we wish we had, we drink the water we do have, as Rummy might say. And the water we have has been so thoroughly poisoned by industry, and we’re so accustomed to the artificially low cost of those goods produced by companies that evade their social responsibility, that we must be prepared to pay higher prices for goods produced in an environmentally responsible manner.

  4. Bron:

    The rights of individuals are all that matter.”

    Really? You don’t even believe that, because you go on to say…

    People enter into society to protect rights, not to give them up.

    Society requires trade offs, balancing the rights of individuals against the rights of the collective. The collective has a right to impose certain limits upon your rights as an individual. Your right to erect a structure as you see fit is limited by your neighbors right to be assured it won’t collapse on him or his family; your right to burn coal is limited by our right to breathe clean air; your right to operate a business is limited by my right to return home to family safely at the end of the day. I received these ideals in my mother’s milk. I’d refer you to Rousseau’s Social Contract but I’m not sure you’re capable of understanding. Well no, actually i’m pretty sure. It’s not just the old-timey language, it’s the concept.

    People like RTC seem to think rights come from government. Government has no rights to give, it only has rights to protect. Specifically the individual rights of its citizens.

    Here I disagree, agree, then disagree with you. I think human rights are inherent to our being. American Government is set up to ensure those rights. As people become more sophisticated, the Constitution allows for an expansion of those rights, as can be seen in the expansion of prohibitions on cigarette smoking or mercury pollution.

    You’re problem is that you think only in solipsistic terms and demand a government that allows to you to act at will. Trouble with that is that others also want to act at will, and often at your expense, if not your outright peril.

  5. Bob Esq:

    People like RTC seem to think rights come from government. Government has no rights to give, it only has rights to protect. Specifically the individual rights of its citizens.

    Socialism usurps individual rights in the economic realm, in my opinion it is only a small step to the political usurpation of rights. Therefore, in my opinion, socialist systems are an unreliable protector of individual rights. What the government gives, it can also take away.

    Free health care or heavily subsidized health care or free anything which comes from government can easily end up abrogating our rights.

    1. Bron – there is really no free anything. We all pay for it somehow.

  6. Bron

    … The rights of individuals are all that matter in my opinion and should be protected.

    I am not sure if those rights should be extended to American citizens engaged in active battle or planning actions. If you are actively fighting against the US, I think you are a target during time of war. If you are a Bill Ayers type, you should be arrested and read your rights. Although if you are captured as an enemy combatant and are an American citizen then you should have due process.
    IF you decide someone is guilty before a trial you have deprived them of their rights.

    IF is where the rubber meets the road.

    If you decide someone is an enemy merely because the government has accused them, you have deprived them of their rights.

    If you decide anything a jury should decide under our Constitution, you have deprived them of their rights.

  7. Bob Esq:

    No Sweden doesnt but that really isnt the point. You lose some freedom living in a socialist system. What is the difference between what you and mespo are discussing? Loss of rights is loss of rights no matter how small.

    People enter into society to protect rights, not to give them up. Economic freedom is just as important as political freedom and a truly liberal, individual rights respecting society needs both.

  8. Bob Esq:

    I dont disagree with you. The rights of individuals are all that matter in my opinion and should be protected.

    I am not sure if those rights should be extended to American citizens engaged in active battle or planning actions. If you are actively fighting against the US, I think you are a target during time of war. If you are a Bill Ayers type, you should be arrested and read your rights. Although if you are captured as an enemy combatant and are an American citizen then you should have due process.

  9. Monsieur Villefort,

    If I have insulted you personally then I must have violated the civility code; right? Unless you find the truth insulting….

    Let’s review.

    Villefort, an ambitious Crown prosecutor, realizes that three men have framed Edmond Dantes for treason. Villefort is touched by Dantes’s integrity and is about to let him go, when he sees that a letter which was part of the evidence against Dantes, implicates his own father in treason and would ruin his career.

    What does Villefort do? He uses his broad unchecked powers to have Dantes imprisoned indefinitely without a trial at the Chateau d’If.

    So it would appear that referring to you Villefort is a TRUTHFUL characterization.

    Furthermore, having once stated that the likes of Abu Khatallah should face “indefinite detention … without access to legal remedies,” (the raison d’être for the Château d’If) Monsieur Villefort now sings sycophantic praises to His Majesty Obama for exercising his royal prerogative to afford such a defendant due process rights while deriding republicans for speaking out for what he truly believes.

    Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays virtue?

    Moving right along…

    You commended a poster named Al O’Heem for posting the following:

    “Guilty persons have no rights. They should be detained, interrogated in an enhanced manner, and then summarily executed. This should apply to US citizens and non-citizens alike. England prevails!”

    “England prevails” is the catch phrase used by Chancellor Sutler in the film “V for Vendetta.” Sutler is a fascist dictator who came to power after a false flag terrorist attack by releasing the “St. Mary’s Virus” and killing 80,000 people. The fear induced by the deaths enabled Sutler to silence the opposition, rise to power and turn the country into a police state wherein the people are promised security but not freedom. All political opponents, i.e. gays, Muslims, civil libertarians, etc., are labeled “undesirables” and imprisoned in concentration camps “indefinitely” without trial.

    During the story, for reasons best explained in the film, the protagonist “V” makes a character Evey Hammond believe she has been captured by Chancellor Sutler. After shaving her head and using torturing her, one of Sutler’s interrogators can be heard outside her cell saying:

    Interrogator: “Very well. Escort Ms. Hammond back to her cell. Arrange a detail of six men and take her out behind the chemical shed and shoot her.”

    Thus I said:

    He even cited the film “V for Vendetta” as support for his argument; quoting the words of the tyrant who rules by the “prerogative of the monarch” design.

    It’s folks like Monsieur Villefort who say that people like Jonathan Turley are just starry eyed dreamers far too obsessed with things like “rule of law.”

    Then again, I submit to you that the only thing standing between you and someone like Monsieur Villefort taking you ‘out back behind the chemical shed and shooting you’ are those principle centered “starry eyed dreamers.”


    If the truth is insulting Monsieur Villefort you only have yourself to blame.

  10. Bob, Esq:

    You’ve crossed the Rubicon with your last insulting statement. Stay in dreamland, Bob. The rest of us will protect you even as you fight it every step of the way.

Comments are closed.