Wednesday, May 12, 2010

O's new terror tack

By Ralph Peters
New York Post
May 11, 2010

Why is the Obama administration now taking terrorism so seriously?

In the immediate aftermath of the May 1 Times Square bombing attempt, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano -- in typical fashion -- rushed to minimize the plot, calling it a likely "one-off" attack.

But scarcely a week later, Attorney General Eric Holder is seeking a significant rollback in suspects' Miranda rights -- so as to better head off the next one.

Talk about whiplash.

President George W. Bush was savaged by Obama's liberal allies for supposedly "shredding the Constitution" in the War on Terror, but he never called into question the 44-year-old Supreme Court decision that formalized an American's "right to remain silent" while in police custody.

(Just imagine if he had!)

Attorney General Eric Holder. (AP)

The 1966 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona deemed inadmissible in court any statement a defendant made before cops verbally informed him of his rights.

Yet Holder on Sunday said he wants legislation expanding an exemption to the rule, to apply when investigators interview terror suspects like Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized citizen.

Such authority would let cops immediately grill suspects about other plots and plotters -- without worrying that the questioning would harm their legal case.

It's certainly no coincidence that Holder also confirmed that the Pakistani Taliban was "intimately involved" in the bombing attempt. "We know they helped direct it, and I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence which shows that they helped to finance it," he said.

But is chipping away at Miranda the proper response? Hard to say.

It's an incredibly fraught subject: While one could make the case that the original Miranda decision gave defendants more rights than the Constitution requires, it's a fixture of the US legal system.

Given the nature of all governments to gather power toward themselves, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

What's more, watering down Miranda would start to blur the heretofore bright line between US citizens and foreign terrorists -- who deserve to be treated as enemy combatants, no questions asked.

These are unavoidable tensions for those with the difficult job of fighting terror in a free society.

What's noteworthy -- and welcome -- is that Team Obama seems to be starting to realize that the nature of the threat re quires hard choices to be made.

After all, these were the folks who not too long ago were insistent on trying ruthless foreign terrorists as civilians in Lower Manhattan (though, sadly, Holder still hasn't ruled that out).

So something really must have frightened them.

And that spooks us, too.

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