Attorney General Asks Congress To Dilute Miranda Warning

May 13, 2010 12:00 am

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Holder Also Reasserts Commitment To Using Federal Criminal Courts In Terrorism Prosecutions

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WASHINGTON – While testifying today before the House Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Eric Holder reiterated the Obama administration’s request to “modernize and clarify” Miranda warnings for terrorism suspects. Miranda warnings, ruled by the U.S. Supreme Court to be a constitutional right, are used to inform suspects of their rights during interrogation. Holder had previously mentioned his desire to weaken Miranda on network news shows Sunday morning.

Also during his testimony, Holder again defended his November decision to try the 9/11 suspects in federal criminal court, but acknowledged that the administration may still consider using the fatally flawed military commissions.
The American Civil Liberties Union strongly believes that the appropriate place to prosecute these and all terrorism cases is in federal criminal court, and that the military commissions are unable to deliver effective and certain justice and should be shut down for good. Since 9/11, the military commissions have completed only three terrorism-related cases, with two of three convicted defendants already released. Federal courts, on the other hand, have successfully completed hundreds of terrorism-related cases.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“As even Attorney General Holder himself has testified several times, there is no evidence that Miranda has obstructed the government’s ability to gain valuable information from terrorism suspects. Weakening Miranda would not make us safer, but it would make it harder to use evidence against terrorism suspects in court.

“Asking Congress to weaken Miranda protections during an election year is especially concerning because Congress, as a result of political pressure, is more likely to do even more damage to Miranda’s constitutional protections than the administration itself might propose.

“Moreover, even if the administration proposes broadening Miranda exceptions only in terrorism cases, the change is sure to bleed into non-terrorism cases as there is no way for an arresting officer to know up front whether or not an arrestee will be charged with terrorism-related crimes.

“Attorney General Holder remains, however, correct in his position that we should use our federal criminal courts for prosecution of the 9/11 suspects. Our federal criminal courts have the track record to assure reliable and constitutional outcomes. We urge the attorney general to remain resilient in his advocacy for federal trials despite any political pressure he may receive.”

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