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News Link • Bill of Rights

Obama Administration Proposes Rolling Back Fifth and Sixth Amendments

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“I would be very surprised if, when we see the proposal that they are cooking up, there weren’t a significant component of it that is about a window of detention,” said Mr. Wittes, who argued in favor of delaying initial hearings in an opinion column published by The Washington Post on Friday. Anthony Romero, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, assailed the Obama administration for considering such ideas. He noted that the administration of President George W. Bush, which was heavily criticized by civil-liberties groups, never proposed such modifications to criminal procedures. “It’s highly troubling that the Obama administration might propose to lengthen the time in which a potential defendant would come before a judge,” Mr. Romero said. “Both proposals would severely undercut the Obama administration’s assertion that they believe in the rule of law.”

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Ross Wolf
Entered on:

The problem with government withholding Miranda readings after arresting a terrorist suspect, is Government can too easily manipulate the timing of “Miranda warnings” so that those warnings follow relentless long periods of interrogation until a suspect says something that a government prosecutor can allege acknowledged a crime, not just a terrorist act, but any crime.

All proposals so far to postpone Miranda warnings have failed to distinguish between an independent non-violent or violent terrorist act not intended to promote terrorism from a terrorist act done to promote terrorism, e.g. further a political or ideological objective. For example, non-violent terrorist acts" are covered in the Patriot Act to prosecute Persons that support “coercion to influence a government or intimidation to affect a civilian population.” A riot or demonstration that blocked traffic or public access can be both federal and state terrorist acts. But under the current proposal, arrested demonstrators could be withheld their Miranda rights. Now consider how postponing Miranda Warnings could be used in conjunction with other laws to deny innocent suspects their Constitutional rignts, for example Sen. McCain’s recently introduced March 4, 2010, S.3081: The “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” that would allow Americans to be detained indefinitely in Military custody without probable cause, on mere suspicion of supporting hostile activities. U.S. activists and individuals under S.3081 would be extremely vulnerable to prosecution, if they could be (detained on only suspicion with no Miranda rights) after being wore down by government interrogators. Under S.3081 American activists could without probable cause be held indefinitely because they did not know another activist they networked domestically or overseas had prior or intended to commit a terrorist act; under S.3081 U.S. Government would not first need to show probable cause that an activist knew what others were doing illegally in their network before indefinitely detaining an activist. S.3081 is so broadly written innocent anti-war protesters and Tea Party Groups might be arrested and detained just for attending demonstrations; Government would only need charge that everyone attending a demonstration "materially supported hostilities" against U.S. Government or a civilian population to detain unlawful demonstrators in military custody.

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