Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Thomas Riggins

A specter is haunting Washington. The specter of the second Bush Administration. This specter is possessing members of the present administration. On Monday (5-10-10) the New York Times reported that Attorney General, Erich H. Holder Jr., wants a law so the US can "interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their [Miranda] rights." Do we really want the government to ignore people's rights? People SUSPECTED of a crime have a right to a fair hearing, a lawyer, a presumption of innocence, etc.

Holder thinks the government needs "greater flexibility to question terrorism suspects." But the government has been expanding the definition of who is a terrorist. It's not just the mad bomber from abroad anymore. Now there are mentally disturbed folks being labeled "domestic terrorists"-- no Miranda for them. There are animal rights activists being charged as "terrorists"-- no Miranda for them. Warning bells should go off anytime the government wants to take rights away from suspects, especially the usual suspects, because there is a danger we will all end up without these rights.

Holder is just pandering to the Republicans and their fear mongering instead of standing up to them and pointing out that the Miranda rules are necessary to protect everyone's rights. The Times reports that "Conservatives have long disliked the Miranda ruling, which is intended to ensure that confessions are not coerced."

It is so much easier to get a coerced confession, as the Innocence Project has shown and the almost weekly announcements of some poor soul, after umpteen years in jail, and been released as innocent. Holder should tell his Conservative critics that he understands and even appreciates their desire to help the US win more cases and get more convictions by the use of coerced confessions, but it's a bad idea since our stance is that we represent truth and justice and all that good stuff.

The Times also reports that "Despite the political furor over reading terrorism suspects their Miranda rights , it is not clear that doing so has had a major impact on recent interrogations." In fact it is all just political theatre. If you want to look tough, Mr. Attorney General, then stand up and fight for the Rule of Law and the Constitution and tell the Republicans their days of ignoring the Constitution and peoples rights under the law are over (at least for now).

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