Tuesday, May 4, 2010

American Citizens, Even Terrorists, Have Rights

There's no one more outspoken than I against terrorist rights supporters, those who claim that alien terror suspects are entitled to U.S. constitutional rights. Extending the rights of Americans to foreign enemies is not only idiotic, it degrades and weakens the protections of individual liberty that we enjoy in this country, and cheapens the entire concept of U.S. citizenship. But when an American -- naturalized citizen or not -- is charged with a crime, even an act of terrorism in support of foreign enemies of the U.S., that person is still entitled to the rights specified under the constitution.

Senator John McCain asserted today that we shouldn't give the NYC car bomber his Miranda rights "until we find out what it's all about." McCain is wrong. Faisal Shahzad is an American citizen and should be treated as such. If the government can take away the constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen because they aren't convenient  in investigating an act of terrorism, then our rights are essentially worthless, subject to being suspended whenever the government decides that an act we are accused of is heinous enough to warrant ignoring the normal constitutional process. American citizenship should mean something. I know it doesn't mean much to terrorist rights supporters, but I'm disappointed to see that John McCain is willing to set it aside as an inconvenient obstacle to investigation. 


  1. I'm so disappointed in McCain. To watch him impulsively lean whichever way he thinks the wind is blowing, and with no apparent sense of the difference between two situations, is cringe-inducing. Of course we can't suspend the civil rights of American citizens. It doesn't matter what their names are or what they are suspected of.

  2. Yeah, it appears that he'll take any position, no matter how ill-advised, if it will help him win reelection.

  3. My initial reaction mirrored yours. However, after seeing debates on the topic what became clear was that no rights would be violated.

    Mirandizing someone places them in a situation where any further talking can be used against them in court. If you do not read them their rights, anything they say can not be used against them in court, so no rights would be violated.

    So what needs to be weighed is not intelligence gathering vs the rights of a citizen; what needs to be weighed is intelligence gathering vs the risk associated with not being able to use anything the citizen says against him in court.

    If you have enough evidence to win the case without any statement, and if getting info could save lives, seems like a good move to go forward without advising him of his rights since he retains those rights whether advised or not.

  4. BTW.. enjoy your blog. Have tried to comment before without luck, glad I was able to find a way to get through :-)

  5. Thinkin'Bout: Sounds like you heard Krauthammer on Bret Baier last night. There is a lot of logic to that line of thinking, but I'm still not sure we really should go where it leads. The debate is not so much about the Miranda warning per se as it is about whether to treat a terrorist as a foreign enemy combatant (with no rights, not even the Geneva Conv) or as a domestic criminal (with all the rights of American citizenship). Another good question, although only tangentially related here, is how in the heck this guy ever managed to get naturalized in the first place. He was naturalized just last year -- the same year he attended an Al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan.

  6. Thinkin',

    That does make sense. Preventing other attacks is more important than getting a conviction anyway.


    "The debate is not so much about the Miranda warning per se as it is about whether to treat a terrorist as a foreign enemy combatant (with no rights, not even the Geneva Conv) or as a domestic criminal (with all the rights of American citizenship)."

    That's how I was reading it, and in that case the question of American citizenship is the key factor for me.

  7. Hi Kelly.. I missed Charles. What I saw was on The Factor (think it was the "Is it Legal" segment... was multitasking while it was on :-)

    I really thought "slam dunk, guy is a citizen, read him his rights". But their point was the case is a win without a confession, so we don't need it. He doesn't lose any rights if they don't use what he says against him.

    Another thought I had (not sure if I've heard this one) is he could technically be tried for treason and/or treated as a spy, assuming we are still believing we are at war. In that case he's looking at the death penalty. Being a citizen has disadvantages too.

  8. Left wing liberals are using the wording in the constitution which states that "citizens are people who have established residence in the U.S." and makes no mention of a legal or illegal status. This is why they feel the Arizona Bill is unconstitutional because the illegals have taken up residency in the US and that gives them the same rights as legal citizens. I disagree and the interpretation should be legal citizens.

  9. you people should be ashamed of yall self we have a black presidents and thats that... OBAMA