Obama Administration Says Some Detainees Overseas Are Being Mirandized — and Bush Did It, Too

By Caitlin Taylor

Jun 11, 2009 9:51am

The Obama administration announced this week that some detainees captured and held abroad have been read Miranda rights to preserve evidence for a potential prosecution.

Administration officials say the Bush administration did this as well in some instances relating to certain criminal cases.

They would not offer specifics in any of the cases, whether under President Obama or President Bush.

The question of detainees being Mirandized was raised by the Weekly Standard's Steven Hayes who wrote that "the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee."

The Obama administration took issue with the notion that this was a blanket policy change, one ordered by the Justice Department.

"There has been no policy change and no blanket instruction issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas," Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. "While there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas, at both Bagram and in other situations, in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees."

Miranda rights come from the 1966 Supreme Court ruling Miranda v. Arizona. They are a way to protect a suspect's Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.

While the actual Miranda rights differ in different states, they adhere to the court ruling that "the person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says may be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him or her."

The ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., told Hayes that he was concerned about this news.

"It would seem the last thing we want is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other al-Qaeda terrorist to remain silent," Hoekstra said. "Our focus should be on preventing the next attack, not giving radical jihadists a new tactic to resist interrogation–lawyering up."

In March, President Obama told 60 Minutes that "the whole premise of Guantanamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists. I fundamentally disagree with that. Now do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not."

- jpt

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