Holder: Constitutional rights for terrorist suspects may need limitations— even for citizensSubmitted by SteveMT on Sun, 05/09/2010 - 18:03
Holder: Miranda may need changes for terrorists
By STEVEN R. HURST
Sun May 9, 2:22 pm ET
WASHINGTON – In the wake of the Times Square bombing plot, the Obama administration said on Sunday it wants to work with Congress on possible limitations of the constitutional rights afforded terrorism suspects — even for American citizens.
Attorney General Eric Holder said changes may be needed to allow law enforcement more time to question suspected terrorists before they are told about their Miranda rights to a lawyer and to remain silent under interrogation.
As the nation debates how to proceed against terrorist attacks, particularly as they have become the work of individuals who are difficult to detect in advance, the administration has been heavily criticized for reading Miranda rights to suspects in the Christmas Day attempt to blow up a plane heading for Detroit and the May 1 Times Square plot.
Terrorism has presented all sides in the debate with a delicate balancing act, protecting the rights of the individuals accused of terrorism while also attending to public safety.
Holder said the White House wanted to work with Congress to examine the 1966 Supreme Court Miranda ruling to ensure that law enforcement agents have "necessary flexibility" to gather information from suspects in terror cases.
The Miranda warning — a bedrock guarantee of a suspect's constitutional rights — has come under more intense study because accused Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad is a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin. The administration declared on Sunday that he was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban.
There also was a foreign link in the case with Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, who is accused in the shooting deaths of 13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas. Authorities claim he has ties to radical Muslim cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen born in New Mexico to Yemeni parents.
While asking for an examination of Miranda rights in terrorism cases, the administration contends that Abdulmutallab and Shahzad continued talking to investigators and providing evidence after the Miranda admonition.
At issue specifically is a 1984 modification to the law under which police were given leeway for more extensive pre-Miranda questioning under the "public safety exemption." But it remains unclear if evidence gathered from terrorism suspects under that exemption and before Miranda rights are outlined to the suspect can be used in court.
"And that's one of the things that I think we're going to be reaching out to Congress to do," Holder said, "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."