The Obama administration is urging federal agents to interrogate domestic terror suspects about immediate threats to public safety without reading them their Miranda rights, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The move, spelled out in an internal FBI memo in October, marks one of the most significant steps back yet from President Obama's pre-election criticism of the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies. Is this a necessary approach to a dangerous problem, or blatantly illegal? (Watch a report about the controversy)
Obama is trampling rights he promised to protect: "With a swoop of a pen — more than nine years removed from the 9/11 attacks — Barack Obama has done more to erode Miranda than any right-wing politician could have dreamed of achieving," says Glenn Greenwald at Salon. Obama once argued that reading terror suspects their rights — their right to an attorney, and to remain silent, for example — was about "honoring the Rule of Law." Apparently respecting the constitution only matters when Obama says it does.
"Miranda is Obama's latest victim"
National security comes first: The Left is "predictably infuriated," says Alana Goodman at Commentary. "Scrapping Miranda rights for terrorists" is "a step farther than Bush went." But once you read a suspected terrorist his rights, it becomes harder to "collect crucial information" about looming attacks. That happened with Christmas Day underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in 2009, who was read his rights far too quickly. Obama is "learning, begrudgingly, that his old philosophy just doesn't mesh with reality."
"So long, Miranda"
Don't worry, Miranda is alive and well: Miranda rights aren't "being gutted here," says Adam Serwer at The American Prospect. The Supreme Court never said Miranda warnings were mandatory, only that without them you can't use anything the suspect says in court. This may make it harder to charge and convict suspected terrorists, but fear not: It's not as if the FBI can now "just waterboard a confession out of someone and use it in court."
"Is the administration gutting Miranda?"