Home > Uncategorized > McCain Mangles Miranda, Leiberman Abets

McCain Mangles Miranda, Leiberman Abets

I stand second to no-one in their admiration for the sacrifices made for America by her veterans. That includes both democrats like the good Kerrey, the one from Nebraska, and republicans like John McCain. However, the qualities that I admire in them for their sacrifices do not always translate into the qualities that make a good legislator. Witness the second abhominable piece of legislation that McCain has put his name on, the first being, of course, the campaign reform act he sponsored with Senator Feingold.

This new legislation would prohibit the reading of Miranda warnings to terrorist suspects and grant the government power to detain indefinitely anyone it perceives as a threat. The Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010 allows the indefinite detention of those whom the military classifies as a potential threat to the US or the military, or as a member of Al Qaeda or a terrorist group affiliated with them.

There is something ironic about a man who spent time in a POW camp being tortured introducing legislation that would allow indefinite detention of enemy belligerents.

The scary part of this legislation, however, is the absolute power it gives to the military and the President. It allows detentions based on “the potential intelligence value of the individual,” or “such other matters as the President considers appropriate.” Under this legislation, if the military or the President dislike someone, all they need do is classify that person as a “potential” threat to the US or the military. The operative wording here is potential. There are conditions and situations under which I can visualize myself being a threat to the US.

The other scary part is the phrase “as the President considers appropriate.” A defining characteristic of a police state is the absolute discretion of authority to imprison and criminalize any behavior it desires. This bill gives the president just this authority. It also gives similar authority to the US Military. Which brings up a couple of distinct problems.

The first is the concept of Posse Comitatus. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits the US Military from being used to enforce civilian law inside the United States. The text of the relevant legislation is as follows:

18 U.S.C. § 1385. Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

The legislation proposed by Leiberman/McCain would essentially do away with one of our basic protections.

The second problem is Habeus Corpus. Habeus Corpus is Latin for “produce the body.” It is a writ(order) directed at whoever has a person in custody, ordering him to produce the prisoner, so that the court can determine whether he is being held legally. McCain/Leiberman’s bill appears to want to do away with this mainstay of our law.

The third is that the issue of Miranda warnings is settled constitutional law. Anyone interrogated without being informed of these rights, cannot have statements made by them introduced as evidence against them. Further, any evidence the police develop as a result of these “non-Mirandized” statements is also excluded. A mere statute cannot overturn Constitutional guarantees like Miranda. Thus, the outcome of not providing Miranda warnings to terrorism suspects is that any statements or evidence they provide will be inadmissible in court.

McCain and Lieberman seek to avoid this issue in a particularly Gordian way. Their answer: Why bother with trials? The bill would grant the military the power to indefinitely detain high-value detainees “without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners in which the individual has engaged, or which the individual has purposely and materially supported.”

Holy Crap! When Arizona said we’re going to check the immigration status of criminals, the left went nuts claiming the end of civilization! When two Senators propose eliminating Habeus Corpus, Posse Comitatus, the US Constitution, and two hundred and thirty-four years of American jurisprudence, we hear nary a peep. All we hear is what an idiot McCain is, wanting to do away with Miranda. I’ll grant that. The real problem is that people are more interested in scoring partisan points than defending the constitution. Everybody should be yelling at all of our representatives to stop this ill-advised bill before it is too late.

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