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Public Statements

The Miranda Warning

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. GARRETT of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, there are forty-four words that anyone who has ever watched a police show is no doubt familiar with:

``You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.''

The Miranda Warning, which reminds suspects in police custody of their rights under the Constitution, has become a staple of our criminal justice system, and is a vanguard of Fifth Amendment protection. This warning, however, was never meant to be applied to terrorists captured on the battlefield who are endangering American interests and American lives.

Recently, my colleague from Michigan, Mr. Rogers, returned from Afghanistan, where he learned that the FBI may be reading Miranda rights to suspected terrorists at U.S. military detention facilities. If this report is true, it is deeply troubling and a variety of questions come to mind.

First, if FBI agents are granting enemy combatants a right to silence and counsel, how then are operatives expected to accomplish their goal of obtaining actionable intelligence in the field? Second, how many detainees have been read the Miranda Warning? Third, on what date was this policy established? Fourth, what are the factors which influence the FBI's decision about when to grant Miranda rights?

For obvious reasons, a suspect who has availed himself of silence and counsel is far less likely to surrender valuable intelligence that can help us in winning the war on terror. While we have an obligation to treat captured combatants in a way that respects their human dignity, we are under no obligation to consider them U.S. citizens. It is dangerous to provide detainees with the same protections enjoyed by Americans. Furthermore, it is unwise to grant detainees the rights enshrined in the very Constitution they seek to destroy.

We must recognize that there is a difference between police powers and war powers. The capture, interrogation, and trial of terror suspects in Afghanistan and Iraq clearly fall into the latter category. FBI involvement in this process can only lead to captured combatants being held, tried, and imprisoned in U.S. civilian facilities, thereby making our prison system an enclave for al-Qaeda operatives.

One of the primary objectives of American operatives in the Middle East is to anticipate and prevent future attacks against U.S. soldiers and U.S. cities. Treating terror suspects as rank-and-file street criminals is a dangerous policy with grave implications for our domestic security and foreign interests.

President Obama has repeatedly stated that he would govern his administration with transparency. However the ranking member on the House intelligence subcommittee learned of a serious FBI policy shift almost by accident.

In waging this war, the White House must be accountable to this body--the people's elected representatives. I thank the gentleman from Michigan for bringing this issue to the House's attention, and I join him in calling on the Department of Defense to disclose the timeline and justification for this policy shift.


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