Election Year Terror Question: To Mirandize or Not?

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Arizona Sen. John McCain, just a few months from his primary, made clear his position on “Imus in the Morning” Tuesday: The Justice Department should not give suspected Times Square car bomber, Faisal Shahzad, his miranda rights. “Obviously that would be a serious mistake until all the information is gathered,” he said.

Around the same time, Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the Homeland Security committee, offered his own words of warning.

“I hope that [Attorney General Eric] Holder did discuss this with the intelligence community. If they believe they got enough from him, how much more should they get? Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still,” King said. “I hope that if they did read him his rights and if they are going for an indictment as opposed to a tribunal that he did discuss it with the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, all the component parts of the intelligence community.”

The debate over Miranda warnings burst into the open after December’s failed underwear bombing attempt over Detroit. The suspect in that case, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was read  his Miranda rights before the Director of National Intelligence was consulted about the decision. There has been no official word yet on whether Shahzad has received his warning. During the Bush Administration, many suspects, including those tied to September 11 attacks, did receive Miranda-like warnings, though sometimes those briefings arrived after months of harsh interrogation by the CIA. In 2002, Jose Padilla was arrested by the Bush Administration and held as an enemy combatant for more than three years, with out Miranda rights.

The alleged shoe-bomber, Richard Reid, was read his Miranda rights in 2002, after he was pulled off a plane from Europe. A month after Reid’s arrest, then Attorney General John Ashcroft told reporters that he had consulted with the Defense Department before opting to proceed with Reid’s prosecution in the civilian system.

Named after a 1966 Supreme Court case, the Miranda rights are a fixture of Hollywood cops movies. They read as follow:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.