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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Weakening Miranda Threatens Us All

The debate over the asserted need to weaken the scope of what now are known as "Miranda rights" in order to facilitate the war of -- er, on -- terror is continuing. This is worrisome for it indicates the effort to rollback these rights may be accelerating.

The basis behind the effort is simple: the belief that reading a suspect his rights is an impediment to effective interrogation in crises where an attack is considered imminent.

The reason why Crime, Politics and Policy finds this concept worrisome: This translates to allowing the government to suspend your rights, when the government decides that the government needs -- for its convenience -- to do so.

For those who think this means being less than sufficiently tough on crime, ponder the possibility of tomorrow's public servant who, for ease of convenience or to boost his productivity statistics, decides to classify an "ordinary" situation as "terror-related." In a world with Miranda Lite, the suspect becomes a terrorist. (You only need one person with a badge and an ax to grind.)  This will give us a country where people WILL lose their rights, and enjoy them only at the discretion of the state, so someone in authority can have an easier time of it.

People cut corners all the time. Cutting corners on Miranda will cut corners on our rights, no doubt about it.

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