As you probably know, federal authorities nabbed the guy who they believe was responsible for the attempted Times Square car-bombing. His name is Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, born in Pakistan. The investigation will, of course, continue, given that the suspected terrorist likely had accomplices. Of particular significance are questions about Shahzad's overseas contacts, and yesterday, control of the investigation shifted to the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multiagency group led by the Justice Department. Shahzad, for his part, claims to have acted alone.
"Did they Mirandize him? I know he's an American citizen but still," King said.
"But still"? What does that mean, exactly? So now we are picking and choosing which Americans get their Constitutional rights?
Mirandizing a suspect isn't an option that we just discard when the severity of the crime is, you know, big – it's a constitutional requirement for all American citizens who are arrested. Period. It's strangely bizarre position to take, especially from those who are sworn to uphold the Constitution.
On Fox News this morning, even Glenn Beck supported following the law and Mirandizing Shahzad. How odd for McCain and King to be to the right of Beck.
As Matt Yglesius reminds us, the Miranda warnings aren't some cute little nicety:
To step back for a second, what we have here is another triumph for the much-derided law enforcement approach to terrorism. The guy is caught. He’s under arrest. Aircraft carriers and tanks don’t help with this kind of thing. Hooray for criminal justice. Now McCain thinks he may be eligible for the death penalty, which I think may be correct. But to give him the death penalty, or indeed any penalty, you need to put him on trial. Which is to say you need to prove that the guy in custody is actually responsible for the crime. And the whole reason cops mirandize suspects is that if you don’t, you risk having your evidence thrown out of court. If you gather all the information before mirandizing, you could be throwing the whole thing into doubt. Which is why professionals give out the warning. They warn amateurs and drug addicts and crazy people and sophisticated members of organized crime syndicates.
In other words, if you deny this guy his Miranda rights, it increases the chances dramatically that he won't be convicted.
Smart move, McCain and King.