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Boston Bombing Suspect Denied Miranda Rights, May Go To Guantanamo

Lauren Madow |
April 20, 2013 | 11:28 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (The Bay Area News Station)
Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (The Bay Area News Station)
After a several-day manhunt, Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is in the custody of US officials but has not been read his Miranda Rights, according to the Associated Press.

Federal officials have invoked a "public safety exception" in order to question Tsarnaev without the presence of a lawyer and without having been informed of his rights. 

National Director of the American Civil Liberties Union Anthony Romero said in a press statement that although the ACLU is relieved that the suspect had been apprehended:

Every criminal defendant is entitled to be read Miranda rights. The public safety exception should be read narrowly. It applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule. Additionally, every criminal defendant has a right to be brought before a judge and to have access to counsel. We must not waiver from our tried and true justice system, even in the most difficult of times. Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions.

The Miranda Rights were established in the 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona, in which Ernesto Miranda of Phoenix was interrogated for two hours after being charged with rape, kidnapping and robbery. Miranda did not have a lawyer present, and had a history of mental illness. His confession, produced during the interrogation, resulted in a 20 to 30 year sentence. After review, the US Supreme Court reversed the Arizona courts decision and ruled that a defendant:

must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.

Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte have argued that Tsarnaev should be held under "enemy combatant status," which would eliminate the suspect's standard legal rights as a US citizen. The senators are pushing for Tsarnaev to be held at Guantanamo, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Legal scholar David Luban has called this "the Hybrid War-Law Approach," in which the laws of criminal justice typically applied to defendants are combined with the rules of war, resulting in a reduced set of  defendants' rights. In addition, Luban noted, "the requirements of evidence and proof are drastically weaker in war than in criminal justice."

For more background on the public safety exception and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, see Slate.For an analysis of Democrat reaction to the Senators' push for enemy combatant status, see the Guardian.

For more Neon Tommy coverage of the events in Boston, go here.

Reach Executive Producer Lauren Madow here. Follow her here.



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