Why The DOJ's Decision To Not Read Dzhokhar Tsarnaev His Miranda Rights Is A Terrible Ideaby Mike Masnick
Apr. 22, 2013
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On Friday, while he hunt for Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was still going on (and after his bother, the other main suspect, had already been killed), Senator Lindsey Graham took to Twitter to argue that the US government, if it captures him while he's still alive, shouldn't read Dzokhar his Miranda rights. As you hopefully already know, the Miranda rights are the famous "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in court, and you have a right to an attorney" etc. The requirement for a statement along those lines (and the name of the "Miranda rights") came from a 1960s case, Miranda v. Arizona, and has since been considered a core part of American due process for those being arrested. And this is a good thing.
When Graham made his statement, many got up in arms, and argued that Graham was unfamiliar with the Constitution. While I more or less agree with the basics of that, much of that anger probably should have been directed at the Obama administration, which officially created an exception to the Miranda rules (unilaterally, without court approval) a few years back (apparently in October of 2010, though news about it only came out in March 2011).
And, indeed, after Dzhokhar was apprehended, the DOJ said that it was not reading him his Miranda Rights because it was invoking a "public safety exception" with the argument being that they needed to get him to talk to make sure the public wasn't in danger. As others have pointed out, this is a horrifically short sighted decision that can only backfire.
It's been said before and it'll be said again, but turning ourselves into a paranoid police state without basic rights means that those who attack us are winning. We should be better than that, and it's a shame that our leaders have no problem confirming for the rest of the world that we're not. What a shame.