Monday, May 10, 2010

Taking Away Your Rights...

So the terrorists can't destroy them!

It works. It's awesome. We should try it.

Of course...we are.

Under a measure currently being discussed around the White House Round Table, Miranda RIghts might be, shall we say...modified. Or rather, the mode of administering them will be. You see, in the ten seconds it will take to tell a suspect he has the right to silence and a fair trial, we might be in imminent danger of a terror attack.

Oh, and don't forget the fact that they might actually like, take advantage of those rights. And that would be bad.

According to Eric Holder, we need more "flexibility" to deal with terror suspects. Which, of course, naturally means being able to delay the ritual reading of the rights. (Not that that would pose a problem to someone informed of American law- all you have to do if arrested is demand your rights as a prisoner. Quite simple, but I digress.)

This springs, I believe from a misconception that the reading of Miranda Rights automatically means that the suspect will stop talking to us- which is a pretty serious error. History is full of people who had their Miranda Rights read to them, then proceeded to talk. Like, it happens every day.

Of course, precedent is somewhat established...from the article-
"Under the current public safety exception, statements obtained before issuing the Miranda warning may be used in court -- including to charge suspects -- if it is determined that police needed to obtain information quickly to prevent further crimes. Once an immediate threat is ruled out, the Miranda warning must be read, under current law."

Oh goodie. So if there's a suspicion you might be on the verge of a terrorist attack (or any other kind of crime) they can delay reading you your rights because of it. (Even though, technically, you still have the right to remain silent. I wonder, what would they do if some terror suspect refused to talk under such auspices?)

In any case, this seems silly. Let's say we catch a suspect on the verge of blowing up a bomb, as in the case of the Pakistani-American bomb suspect we caught last weekend. The threat is easily seen (not that his bomb was much threat). So do we delay reading rights under this exception with the excuse that there might be other threats?

"The goal of revisions would be to give law enforcement officials greater latitude to hold suspects within the criminal justice system and interrogate them for long periods of time -- without having to transfer them to a military system or designate them as enemy combatants, officials said. "

Oh nice. And once again, the Obama admin pulls a Bush- instead of following the rule of law, we'll do what's convenient, circumvent the Constitution, all in the name of safety for La People. (Do they ever ask us if we want to be kept safe in such a manner? Of course not.)

According to the Washington Post, the changes may take a different form- instead of changing the public safety exception, the statute limiting how long a prisoner can be interrogated without coming to trial.

Which isn't any better.

Maybe (and here's a novel idea) we should just leave the system like it is and instead like, work within it. And do things right- in other words, Constitutionally. If you don't want to try terror suspects in civil court, put them in military tribunals. Of course, we can't do that because they're not part of a uniformed military. So hence, they are civilians and should be tried so.

What are we afraid of that we can't do that? That we've detained a bunch of innocent people?

Maybe we should examine that just a little...


Teresa said...

I have mixed feelings on this issue.

First, we need to put up more obstacles for immigrants, especially those from countries in which we are engaging or we know that there are Muslim extremists and/or terrorist organizations located there, so they won't be able to marry a citizen just to get on the inside and blow up something within the United States.

Second, either foreign born persons, like the Times Square bomber are NOT under the Geneva Convention because they do not belong to a uniformed army and weren't sent by a particular country and should be considered enemy combatants or terrorists and don't deserve miranda rights, or they are under the Geneva Convention considered as if they were POW's and we still aren't required to give them miranda rights, or foreign born non-citizens who are terrorists should be given all the rights under our Constitution as if they were U.S. citizens, and are entitled to miranda rights even though they aren't citizens of the U.S.

In this case, the Times Square bomber is a U.S. citizen so he should be mirandized.

It seems like you are making the assumption that terrorists are usually going to talk after being mirandized when they don't have to continue talking. This most recent time we were lucky because he did talk. But, luck and smarts or defense smarts are different. We cannot rely on luck. It only takes one unlucky time for a terrorist to get by and cause grave harm.

Liberty said...

Would you kindly tell me why they don't "deserve" Miranda rights? I think that's why the Rights were originally founded- to protect people's rights as prisoners from people who would would take them away. We are a nation of laws. Our reputation for such has stood for two hundred years. Americans used to take pride in the fact that their country stood for something- the letter of the law, if nothing else. Frankly, it frightens me that there is such a push to get rid of said law just because we've gotten ourselves into a mess we don't know how to get out of.

It comes down to this- if they aren't given rights, we cannot criminalize them. Period.

Furthermore, if we arrested a terror suspect here in the US, US citizen or no, we have to Mirandize him. People we arrest overseas (or that get sent to us by ISI) are conceivably a different matter, but people we arrest here, we have to Mirandize. Period. (I see no citizenship qualifier in the Constitution. ;) )

Guess what. Every day, the police arrest people. Every day, they read said people their Miranda rights. And every day- and this is absolutely amazing- those people talk to us.

We cannot deny someone their rights merely because we might be inconvenienced. We have (supposedly) the best criminal justice system in the world. We have (supposedly) the best intelligence gathering system in the world. So what are we afraid of?

It comes down to this- either we stand by the laws that have kept this nation great, or we don't. Either we do as our Constitution says, or we don't. If we don't, I'm afraid some of the last semblances of the nation that was once America are gone.

Tragedy101 said...

You know, Liberty, you are disturbed.

You want the United States of America's federal government to treat potentially dangerous, possible terrorists like human beings? These nefarious creatures could be anywhere, doing anything. Stuff like saying that the Bible teaches that murder is a sin and terrorizing murderers.

Kind of reminds you of Pastor Martin Niemoeller? Who was placed in a concentration camp in Germany in 1937, four years after they were originally operated for detaining Communists.

Liberty said...

Tragedy- are you being sarcastic? :P I ask because it kind of sounds like you might be...but meh.

For the sake of argument- yes, actually, I do want my government to treat prisoners like human beings. I'd expect the same treatment if I was arrested. We make a big stink about 'Them' doing things to 'Our' soldiers, but then we think we can treat theirs with little to no decency. This was a primary reason POWs were treated somewhat well during our previous wars- in an effort to prevent mistreatment of our own soldiers who were in POW camps overseas.

Also, not sure what you're trying to say with the last part...?

Teresa said...

How would not mirandizing terrorists or enemy combatants hurt them?

Its not like we would be beheading the terrorists like the terrorists have done to our soldiers and at least one journalist.

Since "of" is defined as derived or coming from and the Constitution states "We the people of the United States" and in Article I the Constitution specifically states citizen, and not visitors or residents, the Constitution applies to citizens and not terrorists. The only reason parts of the Constitution or laws may apply to a resident who is not a citizen is so that they follow the laws for our benefit, and not the visitor/resident's benefit.

"At the end of World War II, more than 5 million German prisoners of war (POWs) were interned in American and French prisoner of war camps primarily located in Europe. Owing to intentionally cruel prison camp conditions, nearly 1 million German POWs died from starvation, disease, overcrowding, and exposure."

It looks like our treatment of POW's, enemy combatants and terrorists has gotten better over the years (exception- Abu Graib).

But, even Abu Graib wasn't really authorized by our military. That was done on the sneak.

Liberty said...

Not Mirandizing them is wrong. Under the law, we have to Mirandize them. Period.

I'm not sure what you're talking about with the Constitution...
The reference to "we the people" is in the preamble, and indicates who was writing it (or on behalf of whom) and what its purpose was. (This is OT, but I believe there is also a rule that no rights can be drawn from the preamble, but anyway...) The purpose of the Constitution was to protect people- residents, citizens, anyone in the US- from the government.

Also, the first article outlines Congress' job. ^.^ Not sure where you're getting how that specifies the Constitution applies only to US citizens.

There are actually very few citizenship stipulations in the Constitution. There is the qualifications for President and Congress members- both of those require American citizenship. The fourteenth amendment deals with citizenship rights, and this could conceivably be where one could get that the Constitution does not equally apply to all people, but the rest of the Constitution pretty much equally applies to all.

For instance, the first amendment protects freedom of speech, association, etc., but there is no citizenship waiver.

You must also remember that at the time of the writing of the Constitution (the original writing) there was no concept of "citizenship" of the United States...mostly because the United States didn't exist at the time. Even after the signing of the Constitution, there was little true "citizenship." People just lived here, and came here. We didn't have IDs or passports or social security cards or green cards or there's that.

In any case- the letter of the law is such that we have to give rights to prisoners. Period. Regardless of their ethnicity or point of origin, if they are arrested here in the States, we have to give them rights. To do anything less would pervert the laws America has stood on for the past hundred years.

Let me put it this way- let us say you were reclassified an "enemy combatant" for no reason- or, let us say, for your political views. You were stripped of your citizenship. Would you still want to be treated in accordance with the laws of the land? Think about that.

Teresa said...

With your claim that our Constitution applies to "anyone in the US" that would mean anyone (terrorists)who is foreign born could decide to fly here for one day and murder innocents and expect to be treated as if they were residing here and had constitutional rights when they don't reside here and the constitution really should not apply to them. With that type of thinking anyone outside of the United States would be entitled to citizenship rights or dual citizenship rights before setting foot on U.S. soil because once they set foot on U.S. soil they would automatically have the same rights as U.S. citizens who pay taxes etc. With that type of thinking we could never legitimately have an enemy and could never legitmiately go to war with even another nation.

It just don't make sense.

Tragedy101 said...

Pastor Martin Niemoeller was German Protestant under Adolf Hitler these lines are attributed to him:

"First they came for the Communists, but I did not speak up, because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Unionists, but I did not speak up, because I was not an Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, but I did not speak up, because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me."

Now is the time to speak up for our principles, tomorrow it may be us not deserving Miranda rights. This isn't about catching terrorists or preventing terrorist attacks, this is about giving the federal government the power to hold someone without even telling them, or granting them, their right to a fair trial.

We know that God sends rain on the just and the unjust. This does not prevent the judgement day? Should we not also grant fairness to those who may have offended us?

If you believe that a person is innocent until proven guilty, you must speak up against this sort of thing.

Teresa said...

Speaking up for our rights as citizens and terrorists "rights" are on two different planes and the latter is not compatible with either our national defense, safety of citizens, or our constitution.

Your concerption of how the rule of law and our constitution are applicable to terrorists is the equivolent of letting the lunatics running the asylum or the fox guarding the hen house.

Liberty said...

Teresa- if we are going to criminalize their behavior, we have to arrest them properly. That includes reading them their rights. We cannot legally hold them without doing so. Now, people who are captured during the "war" overseas are another matter entirely: they are prisoners of war. People we arrest here however are subject to the rule of law- all of it.

We cannot pick and choose which laws we follow and when. Not even our government can. To do so is a perversion of the laws of this country. You are, in effect, advocating for the dismantling of the Constitution.

The main reason I disagree with this measure is for the reason Tragedy stated- it is walking a fine line. If we grant the federal government the right to hold people without rights, eventually, it will not just be our "enemies." It will be US citizens they are holding so. There is no such thing as a temporary government program, nor such a thing as a temporary government "safety" measure.

Tragedy- okay, I see what you're saying now, and I totally agree. Love that quote BTW, and thanks for letting me know who said it. :)

Teresa said...

"To do so is a perversion of the laws of this country. You are, in effect, advocating for the dismantling of the Constitution."

I am the person advocating for the proper disposition of our constitution to those to which whom it was intended to apply to- citizens and residents of this country and not terrorists. You are the one who is dismantling our constitution by advocating for extra special treatment of terrorists and any person from any foreign land that happens to set foot on our soil regardless of the circumstance, even if they are our enemy. Our enemy deserves basic human rights but not the same as citizens (our legitimate rights in this country are their extra rights) who live in this country. They are supposedly entitled to everything a POW is entitled to, and that is why it is proper for them to be considered an enemy combatant and given a military trial and not a civil trial as if this was merely a law enforcement matter. The law enforcement mentality, which you are promoting, is exactly what lead to 9/11 happening. Giving contiutional rights to terrorists (our enemy) would be like forcing our soldiers to mirandize our enemies on the battlefield. Our enemy has brought the battlefield here and our government officials are required to defend this nation and protect its citizens and residents.

If the consitution applies to everyone then there is absolutely no point to our contitution and this country having a different constitution than other countries. We might as well join a New World Order and a One World Government with your type of application of the laws of America.

Liberty said...

If we arrest them in this country we have to give them the rights guaranteed them by the law. Period. Not to do so would be to not follow the laws.

Tragedy101 said...

The Constitution doesn't grant or give rights to the people. It grants rights to the federal government. All rights not granted the government are reserved for the states and the people thereof. That you think it does grant rights to the people is... worry some.

Don Emmerich said...

Liberty, you're absolutely right in saying that many of the rights granted by the Constitution apply to citizens and non-citizens alike. Needless to say, non-citizens don't have all of the rights as citizens -- e.g., non-citizens can't vote in presidential elections. But it's clear that the protections granted in, for example, the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Amendments apply to everyone, citizen and foreigner alike. The writers of the Constitution were perfectly capable of distinguishing between citizens and non-citizens; it's clear when they're referring to US citizens and when they're referring to all people. Glenn Greenwald recently wrote an excellent article on the matter:

"This notion that the protections of the Bill of Rights specifically and the Constitution generally apply only to the Government's treatment of American citizens is blatantly, undeniably false -- for multiple reasons -- yet this myth is growing, as a result of being centrally featured in 'War on Terror' propaganda..."