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Making Us Weaker, Not Safer

Monday, May. 10, 2010 3:53 AM

Attorney General Eric Holder says the Obama Administration will be looking at changing the Miranda rights of suspected terrorists, echoing the wisdom coming from conservatives.

This is wrong-headed and won't make us any safer.

We've all heard the familiar refrain in the course of law enforcement dramas: "You have the right to remain silent - anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney; if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you by the court."

Do you understand these rights? (Or, perhaps more correctly, do conservatives understand these rights?)

The right to remain silent re-affirms our Constitutional protections against self-incrimination. That's not far removed from our protections against unreasonable search and seizure, so when the talking heads blather about reducing/changing Miranda, the implications go far beyond questioning a suspect who refuses to talk, but continues to degrade our legal standard from probable cause to reasonable suspicion.

But we're not just talking about police questioning a suspect who otherwise refuses to talk - we're hearing this from the same people who advocate TORTURE. (Yes, Virginia, waterboarding is still torture under federal law and international treaty.)

Weakening these protections does not translate into obtaining accurate and useful intelligence. It simply continues to demonstrate that leading conservatives - despite routinely trumpeting the rule of law - are a bunch of thugs who quicky turn to barbarism instead of law when it suits their purposes.



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