Congressman: Soldiers 'Mirandizing' Enemy Combatants

Thursday, 11 Jun 2009 03:34 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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U.S. Rep. Mike Rodgers, R-Mich., who is just back from Afghanistan, says that captured foreign fighters in that war-torn country are now getting “Miranda” warnings after capture and prior to questioning.

In a Fox News account, reproduced on the lawmaker’s Web site, Rogers says, “I witnessed it myself, talked to the people on the ground. What you have is two very separate missions colliding in the field in a combat zone. Again, anytime you offer confusion in that environment that’s already chaotic and confusing enough, you jeopardize a soldier’s life.”

Editor's Note: See the full interview with Rep. Rodgers - Go Here Now

What’s more, Rogers says that the new warnings advisement policy is news to the U.S. Congress, which he notes has not to his knowledge been briefed on the new procedures.

The Miranda warning is straightforward: “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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”

What’s most troubling to Rogers and others is that first part about remaining silent – it severs at the get-go the route to what can be the best intelligence on the enemy’s plans to kill Americans.

“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. We’re still trying to get to the bottom of it, but it is clearly a part of this new global justice initiative,” Rogers said, according to a report in the Weekly Standard.

Rogers added: “The problem is you take that guy at three in the morning off of a compound right outside of Kabul where he’s building bomb materials to kill U.S. soldiers, and read him his rights by four, and the Red Cross is saying take the lawyer -- you have now created quite a confusion amongst the FBI, the CIA and the United States military. And confusion is the last thing you want in a combat zone.”

According to the Fox News report, confusion may just be the order of the day.

U.S. commanders on the ground reportedly told Fox News that soldiers are not reading Miranda rights to detainees. However, these commanders could not address whether the FBI was doing so.

What’s more, according to Fox News, the new routine of Miranda warnings has apparently not been put in place at detention facilities in Iraq or at Guantanamo Bay, according to U.S. military officials.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs offered, “I have no reason to disbelieve a member of Congress. But I don’t know any of the circumstances that are involved around it.” Gibbs did concede that the development would not surprise him.

The Justice Department was more straightforward. According to Fox News, Justice spokesman Dean Boyd denied any fundamental change in policy.

“There has been no policy change nor blanket instruction for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas,” Boyd said. “While there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas, at both Bagram and in other situations, in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees.”

When Rogers said that in his opinion the use of the Miranda warnings in Afghanistan were in his opinion clearly part of President Barack Obama’s global justice initiative, he was referring to a program which has not been held as close to the chest by the administration as the apparent new Miranda warnings policy.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the FBI and Justice Department plan to significantly expand their role in global counter-terrorism operations -- part of a U.S. policy shift that will replace a CIA-dominated system of clandestine detentions and interrogations with one built around more routine open investigations and prosecutions.

Under the “global justice” initiative, which the Times reported has been up-and-running for several months, FBI agents will assume a major role in overseas counter-terrorism cases. They will design and execute, for example, their questioning of suspects to try to ensure that standard federal criminal prosecutions are an option.

Bottom line: the “global justice” initiative and presumes most accused terrorists have the right to contest the charges against them in a “legitimate” setting. And “legitimate” currently includes Miranda warnings for suspects.

“When they ‘Mirandize’ a suspect, the first thing they do is warn them that they have the ‘right to remain silent,’” said Representative Pete Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “It would seem the last thing we want is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or any other al-Qaida terrorist to remain silent.

“Our focus should be on preventing the next attack, not giving radical jihadists a new tactic to resist interrogation,” Hoekstra added, according to the Weekly Standard.

Rogers commented that the writing is already on the wall: “The International Red Cross, when they go into these detention facilities, has now started telling people – ‘Take the option. You want a lawyer.’”

Editor's Note: See the full interview with Rep. Rodgers - Go Here Now

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