Sunday, April 21, 2013

Res Miranda

Source: Wikipedia
The phrase usually means "a wondrous thing," and is familiar to me from its appearance in a glorious English Christmas carol from about 1420, There Is No Rose of Swich Vertu (i.e., in our English, Such Virtue). Apparently there are no musicologists or Mary-worshippers in the Obama administration's DoJ, and in cases of alleged terrorism, they have decided it is unnecessary to give Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda warning, apprising him of his rights before questioning him about his alleged crimes.

This refusal violates even the Obama administration's own policy, first put forward in 2009 or 2010 in two cases of alleged terrorism, that such refusal to Miranda-ize (yes, "Miranda" has been verbed; no, I didn't do it first, because "verbing weirds language") is valid only if authorities are confronted with an ongoing threat to public safety. However horrific the Boston bombings were, it is difficult to make the case that the danger to the public is ongoing: one suspect is dead, the other is in custody, and no more bombs have been found.

For a presidential administration or its Justice Department, there is no more effective way to involve the ACLU promptly in a legal case than to violate, deliberately and publicly, the findings of the US Supreme Court. In this instance, the reference is to the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, and the issue at stake is a defendant's Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination:
... The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that they have the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that they have the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if they are indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent them.
And indeed the ACLU is jumping right in. From the above-linked TPM article:
The American Civil Liberties Union said the public safety exemption is invalid in this case. “Every criminal defendant is entitled to be read Miranda rights,” said ACLU director Anthony Romero. “The public safety exception should be read narrowly. It applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule.”
It doesn't get much more straightforward than that.

We'll see what happens, but I have a bad feeling that this could well jeopardize the prosecution of a defendant who might otherwise be nailed to the wall without much trouble.

(Damn. The man still looks like a child to me. I know; I know: children don't build and deploy bombs...)


  1. He looks like a child because he is a child... who can do 'manly' things like kill people. It's very tempting to blame the outcast older brother, but he did what he did. I hope we get to understand why.

  2. First off, Jokhar was shot in the throat and is on a ventilator, so he will be silent for an extended period - possibly the rest of his life. As he is in serious condition with multiple wounds he probably has IVs in both arms, so he won't be doing a lot of writing.

    Given the rather public nature of his capture, if he did know anyone even mildly dangerous, they will have certainly gone and covered their trail.

    Looking at what was done, and what was required to do it, there is no indication of any need for others to be involved. This wasn't high-tech, and the plans for what they used are readily available.

    These guys would be used as cannon fodder by the pros, and wouldn't know anything worth knowing. They don't have the training or education to be part of a real organization at any higher level.

    The state should just file the murder and assault charges, and offer life without parole contingent on a complete confession. The state needs to file something as a placeholder charge to stay within their time limits on people in custody.

    1. Bryan, Lindsay Graham and John McCain believe Dzhokhar, an American citizen, should be declared an "enemy combatant," and therefore lacking any due process rights whatsoever. I almost hope someone does that; it would force a confrontation over just what fundamental rights American citizens have... and by extension, what rights foreign nationals have, since the Bill of Rights basically does not distinguish citizens from non-citizens when it comes to due process.

      A 19-year-old should be getting an introduction to political activism, not dodging police bullets. Indeed, it is still not clear to me why police fired on Dzhokhar when he was in the boat. Are they so incompetent as law enforcement officers that they cannot apprehend a suspect pinned down in a boat for literally hours?

      I have no great sympathy for any adult, even a young one, whose activist repertoire has expanded to killing people, but I damned surely insist they be tried and convicted first before inflicting punishment on him. Dave Lindorff at CounterPunch (see karmanot's link) refers to the Alice-in-Wonderland quality of “sentence first, verdict later” in this case, and that bugs the hell out of me, too. Please explain to me again how America now differs from the worst totalitarian state... not by much, it doesn't!

  3. The whole thing is a tragedy for all involved --- perpetrators, victims, and the families of all of them ... no-one's life will ever be ok again.

    Also, how cool that you remembered "verbing weirds language".

    1. Of course I remember that, c... after all, you first explained it to me! :-)

  4. We live in a police state. "It doesn't get much more straightforward than that." here: and here:

    1. "We live in a police state."

      I can't say you're wrong about that, karmanot. Especially it seems true in big cities, with their increasingly militarized police forces. Over the years, like most bearded guys who have or had long hair, I've found policemen who "were my friend" and policemen who were clearly not, but by now, when I am pulled over, I assume the worst. It saddens me. Sometimes it infuriates me... but I never vent my fury at the cops; no point in asking for trouble. I'm already missing one limb...

  5. Here is one of my favorites:

    1. Lovely indeed. Rutter's entire Magnificat is, well, magnificent. I am fortunate to have worked with a conductor/organist (Susan Ferré) who performed a lot of Rutter on programs also including Renaissance and Baroque music, so I have heard a great many of Rutter's works live. But I don't think I've ever heard the entire Magnificat live. Still, this is a marvelous recorded performance.

      (Jeez, could the Firefox US English spell-checker possibly be any worse? It throws UK spellings at me constantly, and no, I do NOT have the UK checker installed by mistake.)



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