Thanks to the “Public Safety Exception” to Miranda (which was created in 1980), the government is not forced to choose between treating a suspect as an enemy combatant or immediately allowing said suspect to hide behind an attorney and the right to remain silent. In extraordinary circumstances, when a suspect is believed to be part of a broader conspiracy that might result in the loss of innocent life, authorities have 48 hours to question the suspect before mirandizing him.
Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the man suspected of being a co-conspirator in the Boston Marathon bombings, was mirandized after only 16 hours of questioning. According to Fox News, FBI officials were “stunned” when federal District Court Judge Marianne Bowler arrived at the hospital and read Tsnarnaev his rights. Sources told Fox News that this premature action might have hurt the investigation.
Apparently, prior to Judge Bowler reading him his rights, Tsarnaev was cooperating with investigators. The arrival of public defenders and the Justice Department, though, compromised the interrogation and now the belief is that “valuable intelligence may have been sacrificed as a result.”
This is not the first time the Obama Administration has been criticized for its rush to award a terrorism suspect the right to remain silent and to hide behind an attorney. On Christmas day in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (aka The Underwear Bomber), attempted to blow up a plane with plastic explosive hidden in his pants. Using the Public Safety Exception, Abdulmutallab was interrogated — but only for 50 minutes.
After being read his rights and receiving medical care, Abdulmutallab chose to remain silent.
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