(CNSNews.com) – The Justice Department confirmed last week that FBI agents in Afghanistan are reading Miranda warnings to suspected terrorists captured there, a practice that Republican congressmen this week branded as "crazy" and "stupid."
Miranda warnings were mandated by a U.S. Supreme Court decision that said domestic law enforcement agencies must inform criminal suspects arrested in the United States of their rights under the 5th Amendment.
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law," says the typical Miranda warning. "You have the right to an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?"
The Obama administration's decision to make this statement to terror suspects captured on the battlefield in a foreign country has sparked outrage among several Republicans in Congress who spoke with CNSNews.com. It also contradicts what President Barack Obama said in March, when he indicated that Miranda rights did not apply to terror suspects captured overseas.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), as first reported in The Weekly Standard, said he was recently in Afghanistan and personally witnessed FBI agents reading the Miranda warning to captured combatants.
“I was a little surprised to find it taking place when I showed up because we hadn’t been briefed on it, I didn’t know about it,” said Rogers. “We’re still trying to get to the bottom of it, but it is clearly a part of this new global justice initiative.”
“Anytime that you offer confusion in that environment that’s already chaotic and confusing enough, you jeopardize a soldier’s life,” said Rogers.
On Capitol Hill, Rep. John Boozman (R-Ark.) agreed with Rogers and told CNSNews.com: “I think it’s the craziest idea I’ve ever heard in my life, and I think my constituents at home in Arkansas are beyond shock. There’s just no rhyme or reason for it -- it makes no sense at all. We have so many guys that are out there risking their lives, trying to do the best they can, and then to try to put this added burden on them at a time when you’re at war -- like I said it’s crazy. It’s beyond belief.”
Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas) also disagreed with the policy of reading the Miranda warning to captured enemy fighters. “I think it’s a terrible, it’s a terrible idea. They’re not American citizens, for starters. They’re combating-foreigners that are against us in every way. They don’t even wear the uniform, most of them. They’re terrorists. And they should not have the same privileges as the citizens of the United States. That’s where I stand,” Johnson told CNSNews.com.
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) strongly disapproved of giving these rights to detainees saying, “I think it’s outrageous. They’re not criminal defendants, and if that’s the way this administration is heading, I think it’s a terrible direction.”
“They’re not criminal defendants, they’re enemies of war captured on the battlefield, and they need to be treated as such,” said McCaul. “What we’re doing is going back to the Clinton years and going through the courts and making criminal defendants, reading them Miranda rights, they’re asking for lawyers over in Afghanistan on the battlefield. … Whether they’re down in Guantanamo, I saw Khalid Sheik Mohammad down there. He’s an enemy of the United States, an enemy of war. And the idea of giving them Constitutional rights, bringing them into the United States and giving them Constitutional rights is just outrageous. To extend that to the battlefield now, where they’re being captured in a time of war, and force our soldiers to give them Miranda rights, we’ve never seen this in the history of this country, and it’s a bad, dangerous precedent to go down.”
Rep. John Carter (R-Texas), whose nickname on Capitol Hill is “Judge” for having served criminal district judge for 20 years prior to entering Congress, said that a terrorist act should be treated differently than a DUI.
“I spent 20 years as a criminal district judge, and I firmly believe that they [captured terrorists] are not entitled to have Miranda rights. Their rights are defined in other ways, they are not defined by our Constitution,” said Carter. “They are treating these people as if they are committing a crime inside the United States, and not as warriors against our soldiers,” Carter told CNSNews.com. “And yet they are warriors against our military.”
Rep. Robert A. Brady (D-Pa.) said he was not familiar with the new policy and therefore could not comment. “I haven’t seen that -- if I see it, I can comment on it, but I don’t know anything about it,” he told CNSNews.com.
President Barack Obama was interviewed on CBS’s 60 Minutes on March 22. During that interview he was asked about the captured terror suspects being held in Guantanamo Bay. Obama said: “The whole premise of Guantanamo, promoted by Vice President Cheney, was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists. I fundamentally disagree with that. Now, do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter down the block? Of course not.”