Obama and Miranda Warnings

In case you've missed it: Earlier this year, President Obama told the CBS “60 Minutes” program and the American people that he didn't believe terrorists were entitled to Miranda rights. We've all seen and heard these rights being read on television, but I'll put them here for handy reference:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed for you.


Prior to interrogating a suspect in police custody, officers must read words similar to those above and the suspect must acknowledge the waiver of such rights if an interrogation is to commence to satisfy Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.

Well, now the same president and the same administration that proclaimed terrorist suspects captured on the battlefields of Afghanistan are now being read Miranda warnings prior to interrogations.

This is a dangerously stunning development first brought to light by Michigan Rep. Mike Rogers (R), fresh from a trip to the theater of operations in the war against terrorism.

While in Afghanistan, Rogers spoke with military and CIA personnel who informed him that terrorist suspects were being read Miranda warnings prior to interrogation. Stunned, Rogers returned home and is urging the Select Committee on Intelligence (on which he serves) to hold hearings on this new practice, which has been initiated without informing the public and/or receiving congressional approval.

Rogers, a former Army officer and special agent with the FBI, is well-versed on the distinction between soldiers acting on the battlefield to save lives and law enforcement officials here at home seeking justice within the legal system. The two are not harmonious, and the thought of affording constitutional safeguards to terrorists captured trying to kill American soldiers is simply insane.

So are we now to ask our soldiers to place yellow crime-scene tape around battlefields to preserve evidence of battle? Will our brave men and women be hauled into federal court, placed under oath and cross-examined as to why they returned fire on a terrorist who had just detonated an IED? For that matter, will we provide legal counsel free of charge to terrorists prior to interrogation? And just what will happen, exactly, when some slick defense attorney gets his or her terrorist client off on a technicality and said terrorist is released into the American population?

As always with President Obama, it is not what he says, but what he does that one must pay particular attention to. President Obama told the American people in May that terrorist suspects would not be read Miranda warnings, and less than three months later, said warnings are being given to enemy combatants captured on the battlefield. So which is it? Did he believe that they should not be read such rights in March, and now he's OK with it? Was it previously a problem but now not a problem to read terrorists the Miranda warnings?

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs shrugged off questions on this topic yesterday afternoon by saying that the report of Miranda warnings being given to enemy combatants in Afghanistan "didn't surprise” him.

What surprises me is why the president of the United States is never held to account for the manner in which he consistently and deliberately misleads the American people. If only the American press would own up to its own responsibly to accurately report events rather than cheer on its hero.