Justice Explains 15 Day Shahzad Delay

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Why was Faisal Shahzad held incommunicado for 15 days after his arrest? Is the administration attempting to demonstrate a new "grace" period whether suspected terrorists would be treated differently from ordinary criminal defendants? Officials insist the answer, for now, is no.

On April 12, the U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, sent a letter to the district's chief judge and chief magistrate, written "in deference" to the court, in case it happened to wonder why Shahzad hadn't yet been presented. The letter was sealed until today.Shahzad, Faisal Status Letter -- So Ordered 2010.05.20.pdf

A Justice Department official said that Shahzad was asked each day whether he would give up his right to "presentment," and the official said that Shahzad responded in the affirmative, allowing investigators to continue interrogating him.

In the letter, the Justice Department reviews relevant case law, and then offers evidence that "continued, uninterrupted" access to Shahzad has been critical to help law enforcement untangle the rest of the plot.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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