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Surprise, Surprise! Reading Faisal Shahzad His Miranda Rights Was Actually a Good Idea

This post originally appeared on Think Progress. As ThinkProgress noted yesterday, after alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was arrested late Monday at JFK International Airport, conservatives began following the political playbook they used to criticize the Obama administration’s handling of the attempted Christmas day bombing: complaining that authorities might read him his Miranda rights. “Don’t give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it’s all about,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ). McCain’s close ally, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), even suggested that Congress should create a process to strip “American citizens who choose to become affiliated with foreign terrorists” of their citizenship and, therefore, their Miranda rights. Lieberman explained to reporters that he believes “that any time we arrest somebody we suspect to be a terrorist the first thing that ought to happen with them is they ought to be interviewed without Miranda Rights being given to them”:
LIEBERMAN: My own feeling about this is that any time we arrest somebody we suspect to be a terrorist the first thing that ought to happen with them is they ought to be interviewed without Miranda Rights being given to them by law enforcement officials to extract from them every piece of information that might help us stop an ongoing terrorist threat. My own feeling is that anybody who we decide there is reasonable possibility that they’ve committed a terrorist act ought to be turned over to our military justice system because though it’s an unconventional war, they are prisoners of a war. A war that Islamic extremists declared against the United States, certainly, on 9/11/01. So, bottom line, I don’t believe somebody like Faisal Shahzad should receive Miranda rights. I don’t believe he’s entitled to them.
Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, did eventually have his rights read to him, but not until after he was questioned extensively under a “public safety exception” to the Miranda rule. Fox News’ Jamie Colby reported today that “a source on the Homeland Security Committee” told her that Shahzad was read his rights “nine and a half hours after questioning.” Watch it: Colby added that she was told that once Shahzad was Mirandized, “he waved his right to counsel, he waved his right to an appearance.” Indeed, Deputy FBI director John Pistole said yesterday that Shahzad continued to cooperate after hearing his rights:
Shahzad was not immediately Mirandized after authorities yanked him off a Dubai-bound flight from New York Monday night. John Pistole, deputy FBI director, said Tuesday that agents interviewed him under the “public safety exception” to determine whether there was an imminent threat. He was later read his rights and waived them, according to the White House. Officials have described the suspect as cooperative and talkative ever since. “He was … cooperative and provided valuable intelligence and evidence. He was eventually transported to another location, mirandized and continued talking,” Pistole said.
So, despite conservative complaints, reading a U.S. citizen his Miranda rights has not impeded information-gathering. But this hasn’t stopped conservatives from complaining. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey told Fox News that despite claims that Shahzad “kept spilling the beans, the question is how many beans he spilled.”
Update New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said today that Shahzad has "continued to be helpful" after being Mirandized.
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