Ducking a bullet

John McCain almost became President. John McCain wants to shred the Constitution.

John McCain, who might have been elected President last year, thinks that according American citizens their constitutional rights is a “terrible mistake.” Presumably he still thinks so despite the fact that Faisal Sharad, after being given the Miranda warnings, promptly spilled his guts. Not merely did he confess, he apparently gave up the names of at least eight associates who have now been arrested by Pakistani police.

The fervent desire on the extreme right wing – which is to say, at the center of the Republican Party – to allow terrorists to bluff us out of our way of life ought to seem puzzling. The world is full of third-world dictatorships where the secret police get to hold enemies of the state incommunicado and torture them. I have no desire to live in such a place. If John McCain’s tastes are different, no doubt Saudi Arabia would be delighted to have him as a subject.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

11 thoughts on “Ducking a bullet”

  1. For the GOP "Miranda rights" seems to have become the new catch phrase for all things evil/liberal. Somehow the implication is that advising a suspect of their basic constitutional rights will imunize a criminal from prosecution. To the contrary it prevents a criminal from claiming they were a victim of unjust treatment.

    We know the GOP fatasy is that the US Constitution is something that is optional but let's just pretend it is still in force at least until the Roberts court declares it "unconstitutional".

  2. Mark's apparently a little confused about the timeline here: Sharad was arrested, and, without being given a Miranda warning, was interrogated, in supposed reliance on the so-called public safety exception in the Miranda doctrine. Later, hours after he cooperated and provided incriminating evidence, he was read the Miranda warning. I'm guessing that Mark thinks that this course was perfectly calibrated, despite being at variance with his initial take, because Mark is nothing but a partisan hack.

  3. I agree we dodged a bullet, what with McCain being defeated. The pity being we merely dodged into the path of another bullet…

  4. Mark's point may be that McCain is all bent out of shape about Sharad getting any kind of Miranda warning at all. McCain has the information about the time line, but was unhappy about the delayed warning. If this is partisan hackery, count me in! Conservatives have had a problem with Miranda since it was written. Coercion is their preferred way of dealing with suspects. Nothing needed to be beaten out of this suspect, and no liberal has a problem with skilled interrogation by people who know their stuff.

  5. …Mark is nothing but a partisan hack.

    I can't tell from the comment whether you think they were too tough on the suspect or not tough enough. Besides the childish name calling, did you have some kind of point, Thomas?

  6. As Fred points out, Miranda is done for the benefit of the prosecution and not the defendant. Not everyone gets this, least of all the Maverick who ain't. These guys have a problem with criminal trials for terrorists. Miranda is not the issue. Trial by jury is the issue, and these conservatives want none of it.

  7. It's getting to be a trend: treat terrorists under standard criminal law, get cooperation and useful information; treat them under some extralegal regime including torture, get a load of hooey.

  8. Hey Mark, here's more on the exquisite sensitivity to the constitutional rights of suspects shown by the Obama administration. I'm sure you will find these innovations to be just right, so you may want to skip reading this at all and go directly to continued cheerleading.

  9. And more!

    For months, the administration has defended the criminal justice system as strong enough to handle terrorism cases. Mr. Holder acknowledged the abrupt shift of tone, characterizing the administration’s stance as a “new priority” and “big news” in an appearance on “Meet the Press” on NBC.

    “We’re now dealing with international terrorists,” he said, “and I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face.”


    In Congressional testimony last week, Mr. Holder defended the legality of the delays in both cases, noting that the Supreme Court had set no time limit for use of the public-safety exception. But on Sunday, he seemed to indicate uneasiness about the executive branch unilaterally pushing those limits, and called for Congressional action to allow lengthier interrogations without Miranda warnings in international terrorism cases.

    “If we are going to have a system that is capable of dealing in a public safety context with this new threat, I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying that public safety exception,” Mr. Holder said. “And that’s one of the things that I think we’re going to be reaching out to Congress to do: to come up with a proposal that is both constitutional but that is also relevant to our time and the threat that we now face.”


    Yeah, we sure ducked a bullet.

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