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.