Obama orders Terrorists now get Miranda Rights

Posted on June 11, 2009


Obama Read Rights to Terrorists

A senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of quietly ordering the FBI to start reading Miranda rights to suspected terrorists at U.S. military detention facilities in Afghanistan.

The move is reportedly creating chaos in the field among the CIA, FBI and military personnel, according to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. The soldiers, especially, he says, are frustrated that giving high value detainees Miranda rights — the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney — is impeding their ability to pursue intelligence on the battlefield, according to a story first reported by the Weekly Standard.

“What I found was lots of confusion and very frustrated people on the front lines who are trying to, well, make Afghanistan successful for the United States and its allies,” said Rogers, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.

Rogers, a former FBI special agent who served in the U.S. Army, just returned from Afghanistan and a visit to Bagram Air Base, where he said the rights are being read.

“I witnessed it myself, talked to the people on the ground,” he said. “What you have is two very separate missions colliding in the field in a combat zone. Again, anytime that you offer confusion in that environment that’s already chaotic and confusing enough, you jeopardize a soldier’s life.”

U.S. commanders told FOX News soldiers are not reading Miranda rights to detainees, but those commanders could not speak to whether the FBI was doing so. The practice has not been instituted at detention facilities in Iraq or at Guantanamo Bay, according to U.S. senior military officials.

Asked if the Obama administration had ordered that Miranda rights be read to certain detainees, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “I have no reason to disbelieve a member of Congress. But I don’t know any of the circumstances that are involved around it.”

But Gibbs acknowledged that it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that it was happening.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd denied there has been a policy change covering detainees.

“There has been no policy change nor blanket instruction for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas,” he said in a statement, adding, “While there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas, at both Bagram and in other situations, in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees.”

Some senators wonder what would have happened if Khaled Sheikh Mohammad, a self-confessed architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, had been read his Miranda rights.

“I’d be very concerned if we’re sending FBI agents over to Bagram Air Base in the middle of a military operation to start reading Miranda rights to detainees caught on the battlefield,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.

Combatant or Criminal? Reading of Miranda Rights to Detainees Draws Criticism

By reading Miranda rights to suspected terrorists at military detention facilities in Afghanistan, the United States could be accelerating a shift from a war against terrorists to a courtroom battle against criminal defendants, Republicans and terrorism analysts warn. 

The Department of Justice acknowledged Wednesday that FBI agents have read terrorist suspects their rights overseas, at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and other places, to “preserve the quality of evidence obtained.” 

But Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd insisted the move does not represent a “policy change” and that no “blanket instruction” was given to the FBI to Mirandize detainees. Officials said it was a practice that began under the Bush administration. 

Gen. David Petraeus, head of Central Command, said Thursday that FBI agents, not members of the U.S. military, have read rights to detainees in only a “very limited number of cases” and that the practice had been used in other countries previously. 

“This is the FBI doing what the FBI does,” Petraeus said. “So we are comfortable with this.” 

However, a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee who just returned from Afghanistan and Bagram said the practice is causing chaos, confusion and frustration in the field. He was concerned it was being expanded and could impede intelligence operations. 

“We don’t want our soldiers thinking, is this a law enforcement event or is this a combat event,” Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told FOX News Thursday. “It’s shocking to believe that we’re going to give non-United States citizens in combat zones who are training, equipping and planning to kill United States citizens and our military and treat them as if they’re U.S. citizens and afford them those rights.” 

Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, told FOXNews.com that’s exactly what’s happening. 

“They’re going back to a law enforcement mentality,” he said. “I think it’s a really lousy way to fight a war. … This dramatically changes the way that our frontline forces work.” 

The FBI’s role in Mirandizing suspects is an apparent product of reported plans for the agency to expand its role in counter-terrorism operations under what’s called the “global justice” initiative. According to reports, FBI agents would take over some CIA responsibilities under the assumption that most of these suspects would end up in a court of law. 

But while the administration suggests this will help legitimize the “quality of evidence obtained” should the suspects come for trial, others worry that investigators and interrogators will miss out on valuable information. 

They wonder what would have happened if Khaled Sheikh Mohammad, a self-confessed architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, had been read his Miranda rights. 

“If you get captured, just say you want a lawyer,” Hoekstra said. “In today’s world if we picked up KSM today, the first thing we’d say to KSM is you have the right to remain silent.”

Terrorism analyst Neil Livingstone called the move a “dramatic shift” in policy. 

“(We’re) going back to the bad old days that gave rise to 9/11 when we treated terrorism as though it were a criminal problem, not as a war or not as an attack on the United States,” he said. “We don’t want to have to make a legal determination every time we go after a terrorist whether we’ve got a good case or not, we should go after them as enemy combatants of the United States.” 

Some lawmakers are increasingly concerned the administration is moving too far away from what was once called the Global War on Terror. 

The shift in tone comes as the Obama administration tries to heal rifts with the Muslim world that deepened during the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal and persistent controversy surrounding the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, as well as the Iraq war as a whole, have hurt America’s image abroad. 

President Obama has tried to correct this by outlawing so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” calling for Guantanamo’s closure, drawing down the Iraq war and making a series of optimistic appeals to the Muslim world — like his speech last week in Cairo, Egypt. 

Though it has followed the advice of some conservatives by retaining the military commission system to try some detainees and arguing against the release of photos that allegedly show prisoner abuse, the administration has also made a rhetorical shift that signals the war is not viewed the way it once was. It refers to the battlefield as the “overseas contingency operation” and officials often refrain from using the term “terrorism” in public addresses. 

Hoekstra called the reading of Miranda rights “politically correct” and part of a “continuing shift.”