Ashcroft: Miranda Rights in Tsarnaev Case ‘Irrelevant’

Monday, 22 Apr 2013 12:53 PM

By David Yonkman, Washington Correspondent

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Former Attorney General John Ashcroft says it doesn't matter whether Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been read his Miranda rights since there's already overwhelming evidence against him.

The FBI is currently questioning the 19-year-old in his hospital room without having informed him of his legal rights, according to various news reports. Without being read his rights as a suspect, it means that any statements he gives law enforcement officials cannot be used against him in criminal court.

“The exclusion of any evidence he might provide is likely to be irrelevant,” Ashcroft told Fox News Monday. “There is a little bit too much being made of the Miranda situation here. He’ll have an attorney no matter what.”

Ashcroft, who served during the first term of George W. Bush's presidency, said there is enough proof of Tsarnaev’s offenses to convict him in a civilian court, including video surveillance tape at the scene of the bombings at the Boston Marathon finish line, eyewitness accounts, and plenty of other evidence.

The former attorney general, who helped fashion the U.S. Patriot Act to help prosecute the war on terror following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said he believes prosecutors in the case will proceed in “a way that maximizes the safety of the American people.”

Lawmakers sparred on the Sunday talk shows over the issue of Miranda rights and how to prosecute Tsarnaev, with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California arguing that it would be unconstitutional for him to be tried in a military court.

New York Republican Rep. Peter King, who serves on the House Homeland Security and Intelligence committees, disagreed, saying Tsarnaev should be treated as a war criminal for purposes of interrogation.

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