Some Reflexes Are Better Than Others

Over at the blog of the American Enterprise Institute, Marc Thiessen is very upsetthat the Obama Administration may have read the suspect in the attempted Times Square car bombing his rights:

Just four months after its disastrous handling of the Christmas Day bomber in Detroit, is the Obama administration repeating its mistakes all over again? One would think that the administration would have learned its lesson and held off on reflexively reading this terrorist his Miranda rights.

The only reason to read Shahzad his Miranda rights would be to preserve what he says as evidence in his criminal trial. But our first priority should not be preserving evidence for his trial—it should be getting intelligence from him.

Isn’t it strange that Mr. Thiessen writes as if it’s impossible to read someone their Miranda rights and subsequently gather intelligence from him? I certainly agree that an interrogation is optimal here, but so is preserving the ability to convict and jail the perpetrator of this plot. Perhaps the suspect was totally willing to talk until he heard the familiar words, “You have the right to remain silent,” but it seems far more likely that the boilerplate phrases wouldn’t in fact be the determining factor in his willingness to cooperate.

Compare the small inconvenience of Mirandizing this man with the alternative — the president asserting that Constitutional rights somehow don’t apply to anyone arrested in connection with attempted terrorism. Does Mr. Thiessen care at all for preserving Constitutional protections? Does he worry at all that illegally disregarding them in relation to a certain class of crime might perhaps lend itself to abuses? I’d be happy if Mr. Thiessen held off on reflexively disregarding the law and the system that we use to apprehend all criminals in the United States every time terrorism is involved.

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6 Responses to “Some Reflexes Are Better Than Others”

  1. qabal Says:

    Does terrorism have a legal definition? Sure, we all know that when someone tries to blow up a car in New York City, it’s probably what we’d all consider terrorism, but how does the law deal with it? Is blowing up a car always terrorism? I doubt it. What makes it terrorism? A city street? Numbers of citizens near by? If so, what number exactly?

    This whole disregarding of rights is ludicrous. It requires our law enforcement officers to make snap judgments as to whether something fits some definition of “terrorism” for which there is no clear legal definition. Much better to just use the fracking rule of law that our country was founded on and go from there.

    I have absolutely zero respect for anyone who would throw away the very thing that makes us different from the lawless streets of a third world nation where might makes right just for the sake of what, exactly? A highly implausible “24” like scenario where we have a ticking time bomb? Give me a break. Maybe Thiessen should go spend some time in Somalia to see the logical conclusion to his putrid beliefs.

  2. ncfrommke Says:

    Those guys at the AEI are always demanding that the rest of us panic, and they seem to get very angry every time we don’t. If the AEI screeches, and there’s no one there to hear them screech, do they still exist? Let’s ignore them and find out.

  3. Will the Times Square car bomb arrest save Eric Holder’s job? - Michael Roston - Newsbroke - True/Slant Says:

    […] to call out Holder for mirandizing Shahzad, a naturalized US citizen, isn’t getting far (see Conor Friedersdorf). Other conservatives like Glenn Beck are even giving the Attorney General cover for having done so […]

  4. Should I quit this Summer? I know it looks better if you stick around on a resume.? | Kitchen remodeling Solutions Says:

    […] Some Reflexes Are Better Than Others – Conor Friedersdorf … […]

  5. trizzlor Says:

    I think Thiessen’s point hinges on the fact that Miranda is not actually a constitutional right; rather, it is a precaution taken to ensure that the suspects statements can be constitutionally used in court. If, for example, his testimony is not needed to prove him guilty but he may possess other pertinent information, the investigators on the scene can choose to waive Miranda and allow him to incriminate others (that would still be constitutional).

    Still, it’s strange to me that Thiessen believes he’s a better judge of how the suspect should be treated than the actual trained interrogators.

  6. In EVE online, Can you control more than one ship at a time, and if not why would you have more than one then? | Eve Online PvP Says:

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