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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Obama's Attorney General Wants to Weaken Miranda

Sunday morning we learned that Attorney General Eric Holder wants to loosen some of the "Miranda" protections afforded criminal suspects in the case of suspected terrorists. He proposes that Congress pass a law with new procedures, of course as long as they pass Constitutional muster.

Again we are hearing of concerns that Miranda rights compromise the ability of law enforcement to interrogate and debrief suspected terrorists. But the concern here is not about the terrorists.  It is about the danger that losing these rights will present to everyone else. 

Weakening these rights puts at risk anyone who is deemed a suspect. Quite frankly, anyone with a "weapon" or showing a "nefarious" intent -- as judged by the government -- could be deemed an enemy combatant/terrorist. It is a slippery and steep slope we are approaching.  And if someone on your local police force just doesn't like you and decides to make trouble for you by calling you a "terrorist," you could be in for a long, nasty journey. 

Why do we care?   It is simple.   This proposed approach would make "terrorism" a magic word.  The danger to average citizens is evident once you stop assuming the benevolence of the government and start fearing what will happen once some bad people start calling all sorts of benign activities "terrorism" (things like disagreeing with politicians) and their political enemies "terrorists."    Americans, who have been taught that their government and police are the good guys, have trouble accepting this concept.   Foreigners, especially those raised under repressive regimes, need no introduction to the concept and recognize these dangers immediately.

George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley is now saying that the Obama administration is taking positions as hostile to constitutional rights and civil liberties as the Bush Administration -- that is, under former Attorneys General John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales and Michael Mukasey.

The risk of such a move, of course, is that future malevolent leaders would be positioned to use these new procedures as precedent to engage in acts which infringe upon the rights of the innocent. Any law, rule or regulation which depends on the benevolence of its enforcers should be viewed as presumptively flawed and potentially dangerous.   In fact, there can be few more pernicious forms of control that to be dependent upon the benevolence of another.

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