Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mr. Zawahiri? Meet Ms. Miranda...

[by Mr.Hengist]

It's long been one of the defining ways in which hawks and doves have differentiated their framing of the post-9/11 world, with hawks arguing that 9/11 was an act of war as opposed to a criminal act. The differentiation between the two is neither academic nor semantic as it goes the to the heart of the ensuing disagreements between the two camps on the strategies employed by the Bush Administration.

The notion that doves would have us advise captured terrorists that they are entitled to Miranda rights has long been derided by hawks, and rightfully so. Acts of war are not covered by the American criminal code of law. Nevertheless, in accordance with their fantasies, POTUS Obama has reportedly instructed the FBI to issue enemy combatants a reading of Miranda rights - which apparently includes the right to remain silent.

I suppose this will give a rhetorical boost to their argument that harsh interrogation of detainees in the GWOT are inappropriate, but this is only a policy change and neither adds to nor subtracts from the bodies of law governing these detainees. Parenthetically, it's little wonder then that the Obama Administration thought it inconsequential to reveal our catalog of allowed interrogation techniques; Miranda gives these evildoers the option to simply opt out of talking.

At any rate, if the lawyer quoted in the Weekly Standard article is to be believed and these detainees may soon be prosecuted in United States courts of law, the logical extension of this policy change is to apply the U.S. laws regarding the sanctity of the chain of custody. Imagine a world in which U.S. Armed Forces are issued little plastic baggies into which they must drop and seal evidence. In a war zone. During a firefight. In the meantime, exploitation will have to wait, as these baggies are transferred to a stateside FBI crime lab or evidence room.

Does that sound insane? That's what hawks thought about reading Miranda to terrorists, and yet here we are. In fact, only a couple of months ago POTUS Obama assured Steve Kroft and the American people on "60 Minutes" that Miranda for detainees was ridiculous. As Hugh Hewitt would say, every Obama promise has an expiration date.

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