Running Out Of Canards, Ctd

A reader writes:

You should know there is a popular misconception about Miranda.  If the FBI gave the Miranda warnings to the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber, it made a grave mistake.  I say that as one who has guided police investigations for years.

The Supreme Court created the Miranda Rule pursuant to the 5th Amendment which prevents the government from using evidence against a person obtained through compulsion of that person.  (The right against self-incrimination.)  If a government investigator is seeking to have a person incriminate himself, then he must first give the person the Miranda warning.

But in the case where you do not need evidence from the person to prove your case then you should not give the Miranda warnings. 

You should interrogate the person for as long as you reasonably can so that you can elicit as much information as possible.  You will not use the information against that person but only as intelligence to understand more about the person, his operation, and his associates. Unfortunately, criminal investigators are apparently unable to grasp that simple concept so they routinely provided the warnings depriving themselves of other useful information.

Ironically the Republicans are right for the wrong reason when they complain that the underwear bomber was given his rights.  He should not have been given it because there was enough evidence at hand to convict him.  There was nothing needed from him.  It was not because he was a terrorist that he should not have received these warnings.

To understand this better, there is a case where a burglar was caught inside a building in the act of jimmying a safe.  The cops arrested him.  They did not give him the Miranda warnings.  When he came to court he asserted as a defense the failure of the cops to give him the warnings.  His defense was laughed at because nothing he said - in fact he kept his mouth shut - was used against him.

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

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