Obama Administration Gives Miranda Warnings to Enemy Combatants in Afghanistan, Even Though They Are Not Legally Required

by Hans Bader on June 19, 2009

in International, Legal, Personal Liberty

The Obama Administration is now requiring investigators to give Miranda warnings to some “captured foreign fighters” in Afghanistan, advising them that they have the “right to remain silent” rather than cooperate with American investigators! (Congressman Mike Rogers witnessed this while on a fact-finding mission in Afghanistan). Congress wasn’t told about this bizarre policy shift, which is apparently part of the Administration’s “global justice initiative.” But White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said that this development “would not surprise him.”

This is extraordinarily stupid. As Obama himself once recognized, foreign terrorists do not have Miranda rights.

Miranda warnings are NOT required by international law for anyone, much less enemy combatants who do not follow the rules of war. Most countries not only do not require such warnings, but regard them as being at odds with the goal of getting at the truth. Miranda warnings are not a requirement of customary international law or international human-rights law (unlike torture, which is clearly banned by treaties like the Convention Against Torture). You don’t get Miranda-like warnings even in many European countries. (The word Miranda refers to Miranda v. Arizona, a controversial 5-to-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1966 that for the first time mandated such warnings). Even in countries that do have similar warnings, they are generally mandated only by statute or the common law, not by the country’s constitution, and thus can be rescinded at the will of the national legislature (and thus can hardly be deemed to be a universal or inalienable “human right”). French anti-terror laws are much tougher than U.S. laws like the Patriot Act.

And these captured foreign fighters are neither U.S. citizens nor on American soil at the time of their capture and interrogation, so the U.S. Constitution gives them no right to Miranda warnings, either.

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