U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has indicated that the Obama Administration will be asking Congress to pass legislation that would allow law enforcement personnel to question suspected terrorists for a longer time before informing them of their Miranda rights. The Supreme Court has consistently stated that law enforcement personnel cannot use statements made by criminal defendants unless they were first informed of their right to remain silent, being informed that any statements they make can be used against them in court, and that they have a right to an attorney prior to questioning. In 1994, the Supreme Court carved out a "public safety exception" which allows law enforcement personnel to question a suspect before informing them of their Miranda rights if there is an immediate risk to public safety. Holder seems to believe that a similar exception needs to be explicitly stated in the law to apply to terrorism suspects.
Advocates of this position do not understand that Miranda does not convey any rights. The United States Constitution conveys the rights enunciated in Miranda. The rights set forth in Miranda are rights granted in the constitution to any person. As long as the suspect is a human being, they have the rights set forth in Miranda. Whether they are U.S. citizens or terrorists is irrelevant to the constitution. The Miranda decision only provides that in order for any statements to be used in court, the prosecution must be able to show that the suspect was informed of those rights. By reading a suspect their Miranda rights, the police are insuring that they will be able to get a conviction. Rather than being criticized for reading a suspect their Miranda rights, law enforcement personnel should be congratulated for doing everything they can to insure that they obtain a conviction. The grandstanding by politicians on both sides of the political aisle shows their complete lack of understanding of constitutional law.
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