Modify Miranda?

That’s change you can believe it, alright:

Attorney General Eric Holder said the White House is working with Congress on giving federal officials more flexibility in questioning terror suspects, calling it a “new priority” for President Barack Obama.

“We want the public safety exception to be consistent with the public safety concerns that we now have,” Holder said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program. The top U.S. law enforcement official earlier said on ABC’s “This Week” that Congress needs to give “serious consideration” to revising the guidelines.

The public safety exception lets law enforcement officers question suspects on potential threats before giving a “Miranda warning” advising them of their rights to remain silent and to have legal counsel.

Call me a paranoid, fortified-bunker-dwelling, locked-and-loaded anarcho-libertarian, but when they start using words like “flexibility” in regard to people’s rights, it sometimes ends with a bunch of naked guys piled up in a human pyramid.

26 Responses to “Modify Miranda?”


  1. 1 MoS Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 10:35 am

    It’s a very slippery slope when fundamental principle is bent to convenience. Principles are enormously strong while intact yet they’re so easily shattered.

  2. 2 Cornelius T. Zen Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Good morrow, all!
    The terrorists have won. They have made the mighty Excited States Uhmerka so afraid that they will abandon the principles of habeas corpus, innocent until proven guilty, and the right to silence and competent legal representation.
    As Pogo put it: We has met the enemy, and he is us.
    The terrorists have won. Not the guys in dark skins, desert robes and ululating war cries, but the fat, sweating, cowardly guys wrapped in the flag and demonstrating their shoe-size IQ’s.
    The terrorists have won. Fear rules. Courage has been flushed away. Superstition, paranoia and malice have come galloping in from over the horizon.
    The terrorists have won. Not from without, but from within.
    So much for progress. Wecome to the Dark Ages – CTZen

  3. 3 West End Bob Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Yup, and it’s stuff
    like this, too, that don’t give me the “warm and fuzzies” ’bout our neighbour to the south.

    Here’s a snippet:

    Evidently, the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars interrupted by brief periods of peace while preparing for the next war. Given that the only entity expressing an interest in attacking the United States is al-Qaeda – a non-government paramilitary organization of extreme religious fanatics with about a thousand reliable active members around the world – it is obvious that America’s unprecedented military might is actually intended for another purpose.

    In our view that “other purpose” is geopolitical – to strengthen even further the Pentagon’s military machine to assure that the United States retains its position as the dominant global hegemon at a time of acute indebtedness, the severe erosion of its manufacturing base, near gridlock in domestic politics, and the swift rise to global prominence of several other nations and blocs.

  4. 4 Bleatmop Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I wouldn’t call you paranoid but I would call this yet another reason to criticize Obama. His love of the war in Afghanistan, “ending” the war in Iraq at the end of his term (yet to be seen if it actually happens), continued use of blackwater, continuing Patriot Act, Gtmo (still not closed 1.5 years after the order to close it), bailing on a public option from day 1, failure to do banking reform after giving the banks trillions of gifts, making distasteful jokes involving his daughters recently, and love of offshore drilling (before he was against it again) he’s starting to look more and more like the Cheney-Bush co-presidency every day. Seriously, if Bush were still in power, or if Obama had an (R) before his name the “left” would still be united in their hatred of this guy.

    I know the common criticism of criticism excuses made for Obama is that he’s run into a obstructionist senate, ect ect (despite having one of the largest majorities in recent history), but at the rate he’s going it’ll take 40 years to fulfill all his campaign promises. Forgive the rant, but if this story you posted is true, it’s the straw that broke this camels back. I’ve no more hope that things are going to change.

  5. 5 Brian Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    … sometimes ends with a bunch of naked guys piled up in a human pyramid …

    Sometimes, but really rarely.

    … so afraid that they will abandon the principles of habeas corpus…

    This is nothing new. Lincoln did this, as have many others when it was necessary. The Constitution is not a suicide pact. A set of guidelines that force you to sustain attacks upon yourself is not what the Founders had in mind, and the Supreme Court has seen it that way pretty consistently.

    … innocent until proven guilty …

    This is an issue with respect to punishment, and how court proceedings are handled. That in no wise has been abandoned, nor even impugned.

    … the right to silence and competent legal representation …

    Apparently the Supreme Court some time ago ruled that these do not apply in special circumstances where public safety is concerned. The sky did not fall, tyranny did not follow.

    The terrorists have won.

    I agree that they are winning some things.  They need only make a threat to case transportation to be shut down, to cause lots of money to be spent on security, etc.  This is problematic, and really needs to be handled through a sophisticated, comprehensive plan — something we do not yet have.

    … the fat, sweating, cowardly guys wrapped in the flag and demonstrating their shoe-size IQ’s…

    Riiiiiiight… Those are the bad guys.

    Superstition, paranoia and malice have come galloping in from over the horizon…   Welcome to the Dark Ages

    Riiiiiiight…

  6. 6 Brian Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 1:14 pm

       “… a snippet:

       Evidently, the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars interrupted by brief periods of peace while preparing for the next war. Given that the only entity expressing an interest in attacking the United States is al-Qaeda — a non-government paramilitary organization of extreme religious fanatics with about a thousand reliable active members around the world – it is obvious that America’s unprecedented military might is actually intended for another purpose.
       In our view that “other purpose” is geopolitical – to strengthen even further the Pentagon’s military machine to assure that the United States retains its position as the dominant global hegemon at a time of acute indebtedness, the severe erosion of its manufacturing base, near gridlock in domestic politics, and the swift rise to global prominence of several other nations and blocs.

       Now that strikes me as paranoid!

       al-Qaeda is not the only organization that has expressed interest in attacking the US. Yet, even if they were, the governments that lend them support (safe haven, financial assistance, training resources, etc.) are engaged in attacking the US through al-Qaeda as a proxy. Ignoring that is failing to set the stage with completeness, and makes the case therefore a straw man.

    … an … organization of extreme religious fanatics …
    as if that makes them somehow less dangerous than if they were an organization of dedicated atheists? It is not germane.

        “… it is obvious that America’s unprecedented military might is actually
        intended for another purpose.

        In my opinion, it is only obvious to those who see a sinister plot behind everything. I would allow as how it is possible, but that is a far cry from obvious.

        “… to assure that the United States retains its position as the
        dominant global hegemon …

       I cannot think of any nation that would not try to retain their position as the “dominant global hegemon,” were they to attain it.

       It is, in my opinion, impossible that there would not be a “dominant global hegemon.” If the US were to fall from that position, another would rise in their place. What country do you think would be a better choice? Russia, perhaps? When England was the “dominant global hegemon,” colonialism dominated. Perhaps that would not be the case now (the world has changed a lot), but it was like that. Venezuela, perhaps? China?

       It seems a bit like tilting at windmills to decry a “dominant global hegemon.” I don’t think that can be escaped. Even were it to be a consortium, such as the UN, I still think that tyranny would soon ensue — profound tyranny.

       I don’t like that human nature makes it so that there will always be a dominant entity, but since I think that cannot be avoided, I think the US is the best candidate, mostly because of the Constitution, rather than something unique to the citizenry.

        “… the severe erosion of its manufacturing base …

       The US (as well as other countries) has gone through major shifts before. It is not the problem that this snippet would seem to hold it to be, IMO.

        “… near gridlock in domestic politics …

       This is the design of the bicameral US system (a design which was somewhat eroded when we switched to popular election of senators).  To suggest that we want to go to war because there is grid lock in the congress… I mean, what?!? That’s just disjointed.

       The danger is when there is a streamlined, rubber-stamp congress and executive.

  7. 7 Brian Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Bleatmop,

       I think your points are good ones.  People like me who were against him from the start pointed out that this would have to be the result of electing Obama.  (Welcome to the racist club, the only need for membership being criticizing Obama.)
       Regarding what you said (in part), “… he’s starting to look more and more like the Cheney-Bush co-presidency every day.  Seriously, if Bush were still in power, or if Obama had an (R) before his name …”, it makes me wonder if the requirements of the job foster requirements to do the sorts of things you enumerated?   That is, if the global situation that develops when you have the depth of information that heads of state are privy to makes the kinds of actions he is taking necessary?
       We’ll never know, as we are not privy to that level of intel, but it seems an interesting point for pondering to me.

  8. 8 Bleatmop Sunday, May 9, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Brian –

    people like me who were against him from the start pointed out that this would have to be the result of electing Obama.

    Really? You predicted that Obama would be against offshore drilling before the election and thought that Obama would turn to be in favour of it after the election? You thought Obama would promise to close Gtmo on day one and almost a year and a half later there would be still no movement of prisoners? You knew that he’s bail on the public option from the beginning of the debate? Really?? Or are you saying that you knew this thing about Miranda Rights being weakened under Obama??

    Pray tell how?

  9. 9 Brian Monday, May 10, 2010 at 9:32 am

    I did think that Obama’s promising to close Gitmo would turn out to be a broken promise.

    I did think that his promises regarding health care would be seen as too much, too far, and he would be forced to do less than he was promising.

    I felt that people were expecting things from him that would never happen. People like me tried to point that out, and were called racists for doing so.

    But no, I had no thoughts about what he would do about energy, except that I believed his lack of experience combined with his doctrinaire attitude would result in a lot of position shifting, false starts, excessive promises — the sorts of things we have actually seen.

    I also believe that the worst is yet to come. As he loses approval, he will start to make desperate moves to regain his previous popularity (one action), and will take panicked actions due to facing something he has never faced before: widespread disapproval (a second action). I think his lack of experience (and lack of the “callouses” that “experience” provides) is going to turn out to be a really big problem.

    But I don’t agree that “Miranda” is being weakened. If the procedures emerging from the Miranda decision cannot be adapted in the face of a different reality in a way that protects suspects to the highest degree possible while allowing protection of the society from plots suspects might know something about, then Miranda will disappear. It is the idea of the oak and the straw in a hurricane. Inability to be strong yet bend when necessary results in breaking instead.

    It was some time ago that the court ruled that Miranda need not apply to special circumstances, and that testimony obtained outside the stipulations of Miranda in these circumstances could still be used in a trial. This has not led to widespread weakening of the protections of Miranda rights. It was a necessary adaptation, the application of which is still under the oversight of the court.

  10. 10 Bleatmop Monday, May 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    In an unrelated comment, I feel compelled to post this article here.

    http://www.cracked.com/funny-3809-internet-argument-techniques/

  11. 11 Cornelius T. Zen Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Good morrow, all!
    Does anyone remember the Magna Carta? It was but the first step in English Common Law toward protecting Joe Sixpack from The Man. Miranda rights are but another step in that direction.
    In our so-called civilozed society, the government appears to have all the advantages over the common person. So, why, exactly, would it need to erode Miranda rights? Is government really that afraid of Joe Sixpack? Oh. Wait. I just remembered. Government has ALWAYS been afraid of the common person. Mostly because, once in a while, we have to remind them that THEY work for US.
    I’ve also noted a trend. The Shoe Bomber. Bomb fizzled. The Underwear Bomber. Got his essentials fried, and that’s about all the damage done. The SUV Bomber. Fireworks! Whee! But no ka-boom. And we’re supposed to be afraid of these bozos?
    Read them their Mirandas. If they’re not smart enough to make something go boom, they’re not smart enough to tell us anything we don’t already know.
    You have the right to remain stupid – CTZen

  12. 12 JJ Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

    MoS

    Principles are enormously strong while intact yet they’re so easily shattered.

    That’s for sure. Maintaining civil liberties requires ongoing and vigilant maintenance. To use a mechanic’s analogy, compromises to civil rights are like rust in the wheel wells of a truck — once it starts it goes fast.

  13. 13 JJ Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

    CTZen

    The terrorists have won.

    If their goal is to provoke fear, then they have. Ten years ago I would never have imagined that a confident nation like the USA would allow such compromises to civil liberties in the name of security, but 9/11 was a traumatic event and they can’t be blamed for having a nationwide nervous breakdown over it. (And it didn’t help that the Fear Card was played at every turn by the last administration.)

    Here’s an interesting juxtaposition: On 9/11, a friend called me and was blathering on about such & such and I finally had to break in and ask: Haven’t you heard what happened in NYC!!??? (I was traumatized myself.) And she said “Yes, it’s awful, but I guess it doesn’t shock me because I lived in the UK all my life when IRA bombs were constantly going off. I once walked out of a subway that blew up 5 minutes later. The possibility of terrorism is just something we learned to live with.” 😯

    Obviously 9/11 was a lot bigger than subways being blown up, but as time went on it became clear that America wasn’t adjusting the way the UK did, and in that sense, the terrorists won.

  14. 14 JJ Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:12 am

    West End Bob – Four More Wars, eh? Obama is turning out to be the best Republican president the Democrats ever had.

  15. 15 JJ Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Bleatmop – I think Obama is trying to appeal to the right wing, which strikes me as a dumb political move. The centre is okay, but if he has to lean either way he should be leaning left not right. The GOP will never approve of anything he does, so it seems stupid to alienate the democratic base.

    This Miranda thing strikes me as blatant pandering to the mouth-breathers… their only response will be that there shouldn’t be any Miranda warning given to terrorist douchebags at all. (Forgetting that if a douchebag’s civil rights are safe, your own are even safer.)

  16. 16 JJ Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

    Brian

    I agree that they are winning some things.

    How do you fix that? As a conservative, you must surely be concerned with the compromises to civil liberties and privacy that have been taking place since 9/11 in the name of “national security”. Civil liberties are what sets America apart from shit holes in other parrts of the world where you can be pulled off the street at a cop’s whim and thrown in jail if you don’t have your Pape… oops…

    No seriously though.

  17. 17 Brian Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    … the government appears to have all the advantages over the common person. So, why, exactly, would it need to erode Miranda rights? Is government really that afraid of Joe Sixpack? Oh, Wait: I just remembered. Government has ALWAYS been afraid of the common person.

    Of course!  That’s it!  Why didn’t I see before that the only issue is fear, and it is the common folk that they have in mind?  How could I miss that?

    … I’ve also noted a trend. The Shoe Bomber. Bomb fizzled. The Underwear Bomber. Got his essentials fried, and that’s about all the damage done. The SUV Bomber. Fireworks! Whee! But no ka-boom. And we’re supposed to be afraid of these bozos?

    Do you think it might have something to do with the fact that if any of these 3 devices had been just ever-so-slightly better built, dozens to 100s would’ve been killed, and scores more injured or maimed?  It would appear at least possible from your post that your solution is to note that we have been unbelievably lucky so far, and so, since luck has worked for us this far, we should stick with that as our strategy.

  18. 18 Brian Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    This Miranda thing strikes me as blatant pandering to the mouth-breathers…

    People with stuffy noses and/or allergies?

    This characterization of people based on how the breathe has always struck me as just, I dunno, weird. Knuckle-dragging, sure, but not breathing…

  19. 19 JJ Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    😆 Touche. You’re right. The more appropriate expression would probably be “knuckle draggers”.

  20. 20 Brian Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    How do you fix that?

    That surely is a good question.  If focusing on civil liberties results in some really horrific event (a dirty bomb, an EMP, the outbreak of a 50% mortality weaponized virus), then you have played the fool.  There’s a saying that, “If you go into the woods to rescue someone, and you die, you failed.”  It’s somewhat similar that if you focus on being a shining beacon of liberty, and you get erased, you failed.  I am intensely concerned both with security, and with maintaining that which makes us who we are.  It’s a quandary, and a bit of a mine field.  On this topic though, I don’t think the proposed adaptations to the interpretation of the Constitution embodied in the Miranda Rights is too much, at least not as I have heard the proposals — so far.

     

    As a conservative, you must surely be concerned with the compromises to civil liberties and privacy that have been taking place since 9/11 in the name of “national security.”

    Yeah, some of them.  There have been outcries about issues that I think are a little like how Chicken Little behaved.  For instance, when you’re in public you are in a not-private area, and all of your appearance & behavior is not-private.  Some have asserted that public cameras joined to facial recognition software & data bases of wanted criminals is an invasion of privacy.  I would call that a Chicken Little response.  Your visage is not private when you are in public.  Would they have a similar problem with it if a human police officer happened to recognize a wanted man from his photo at the Post Office?  Same thing: face is recognized, person is arrested.

    Further, there has been some sheer insanity is some places.  To wit: shortly after 9/11/01, Al Gore was traveling by airplane.  His number came up “randomly,” and he was intensely searched.  “No special treatment,” everyone delightfully said.  Myself, I desperately wanted to slap the living crap out of everyone involved.  This was clearly the former vice president of the country.  There was not the slimmest chance that he would try to down the aircraft.  But while these glory hounds were giving Al the treatment, they were busy doing that, rather than earnestly, and responsibly vetting the other passengers about whom you could not be as certain.  This indicated to me that security was not on their mind, following all the rules in a conspicuous fashion was.

    I also heard of someone who had a silver bullet (just the projectile part) with a post affixed into the rear of the bullet so that it could be hung from a chain around their neck.  This was confiscated at the gate: No bullets allowed.  That kind of tyranny infuriates me.

    But these other issues aside, I, as a conservative, am always worried that the rights we have — not for having been bestowed upon us by the government, but because we inherently have these rights — will be chiseled away at (something I see happening all the time, by the way).

     

    Civil liberties are what sets America apart from shit holes in other parts of the world where you can be pulled off the street at a cop’s whim and thrown in jail if you don’t have your Pape… oops…

    cute . . .

    No seriously though.

    That is one of the things that sets us apart, true.  It is not the only thing that does, but it certainly is one of them.

    As a matter of fact, in the whole country police can apprehend you, and hold you for 72 hours without charging you, then let you go.  It is dangerous for them to do so, since it opens them up to potential for law suits, but it can be done.  In those other countries though, you can go from being arrested to being imprisoned in a way that is not legal here.

    To this thread though, Miranda is a codification, in different words, of the current understanding of how the Constitution is to be applied.  The Constitution provides protection from being forced to testify against yourself.  Miranda applies that with “You have the right to remain silent.”

    Miranda goes even further in some elements, allowing you to have counsel appointed at no cost, if you cannot afford your own.  That is beyond a right (a right being something shared by all at no cost to anyone), and spells out an entitlement that has been implemented, one with which I heartily agree.

    But, as I have said before, all of this is with a view to prosecution & conviction, as Miranda states, “Anything you say can– and will be used against you in a court of law.”  That stance is backed up by the text of the 6th amendment, which says:

    In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;  to be confronted with the witnesses against him;  to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

    Note that it is very specific that this is “In all criminal prosecutions.”  As I have said before, in cases where there is urgency and potential for loss of life, I have little problem with asking questions without counsel present, and then not using the answers to those question in a criminal prosecution.

    But apparently I have learned, the Supreme Court has actually ruled that in special circumstances such questioning may take place and the answers nonetheless used in a court of law against the accused.  That is farther than I would be willing to go (using testimony obtained that way), but that ruling has been in effect for more than 20 years now, apparently without much outcry from individuals who think that their rights have been violated.  (It’s hard to know what it is that you don’t know, but it seems that if there were many such cases, we would have heard about it.)  Another modification of a right, “to be confronted with the witnesses against him,” is that when a person is accused of child molestation they often do not get to face the witness against them.  I’m just pointing out that sometimes these rights aren’t applied in as absolute a fashion as one might expect them to be from reading the text of the Constitution.

    So, as you thought might be the case, as a conservative I am concerned, yet we seem to have not crossed too far into abridgment of rights yet, at least to me.  Remember, many Constitutional rights have been found to not be absolute, such as restrictions on speech that might incite a riot, or a lead to a stampede in a confined area.

  21. 21 Bleatmop Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 9:53 pm

    JJ – I don’t get why centrists think that they can gain any traction with the ridiculous right in today’s political environment. You’d think that they’d gain some sense after being rebuked time and time again. These lunatics did not elect him, so why not concentrate on creating policy that is good for the country and let his opponents shriek themselves into irrelevancy?

  22. 22 Shade Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I can explain why the Gitmo thing Obama promised fell through. May not have got mentioned in America but he asked a couple countries I know Australia for sure to take people from Gitmo off America’s hands.

    Naturally of course they refused having enough of their own to deal with.

    Oh and I’m back as you may have noticed. Anyone miss me?

  23. 23 Brian Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 8:53 am

    These lunatics did not elect him, so why not concentrate on creating policy that is good for the country and let his opponents shriek themselves into irrelevancy?

    We might not have elected him, but he is still our president.  Those who you assess as shrieking (a tough sell in my case, given how consistently calm I have been) are the ones who are trying to keep the country from being destroyed.

    And I’m curious: what “good for the country” type(s) of policy changes do you have in mind when you use that phrase?

  24. 24 JJ Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 8:56 am

    SHADE!!! 😯 🙂 8)

    Welcome back! (((hug)))

  25. 25 Bleatmop Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 10:59 am

    Brian – I would have though your clairvoyant powers would have lets you see what I have in mind. It worked for you and Obama.

  26. 26 Brian Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 11:34 am

      Well yes, of course it did allow that.   (I was even able to probe the “other side” to see that you meant “thought” rather than “though.”   Pretty good, huh?   It’s not everyone who can do that!)   I just wanted to see whether you knew…


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