Monday, June 29, 2009

Still Bananas Over Miranda

A few weeks ago, Mike Rogers was making the right-wing news rounds with dire predictions about the dangers of Mirandizing Afghan detainees.

More recently, Mr. Rogers has been spreading the "news" in the local media, like WHMI and the Press & Argus.
"As an American citizen, it chills my blood to think that these foreign fighters from other nations who enter Afghanistan to kill our soldiers and allies are being given the same rights as American citizens accused of a crime," Rogers said in a statement.
CQ Politics' Jeff Stein was intrigued by this story of chilled blood (not to mention the chaos), so he talked with the Michigan Republican about his concerns.

Turns out that Mr. Rogers, on his most recent taxpayer-funded trip to Bagram Air Base, sat in on a meeting to which he had not been invited:

“I’m telling you, it was being implemented,” added Rogers, who slipped his minders at Bagram long enough to join a regular morning meeting of FBI, CIA, Defense Department and other U.S. agency personnel involved in interrogations.

“I saw it. I talked to people who were doing it,” he said.

(As Rhett Butler once noted, eavesdroppers often hear highly entertaining things...)

Stein interviewed some very credible people who were not going bananas over a policy which has been in place since 1998.

“Whether a person is Mirandized or not, he can remain silent,” Marion “Spike” Bowman, a former senior legal counsel to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III , pointed out for me.

“Interestingly, with a good interrogator, most do not,” added Bowman, who was also at one time a legal adviser to the Navy’s elite counterterrorism unit, SEAL Team Six.

“A Mirandized person may be interrogated — whether he responds is a different matter,” Bowman said. “Some, in fact, related details that ratted out relatives. The Arab culture is not like ours and the ‘right to remain silent’ is not a part of their culture.”

FBI Director Robert Mueller wrote to Reps. Rogers and Wolfe (R-VA), stating that there has been "no policy change and no blanket instruction" issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas.
For detainees held in military custody overseas, approval by the Department of Justice is required before Miranda warnings may be given. [skip]

There are cases in which FBI agents have provided Miranda warnings to persons captured and held overseas, at Bagram and elsewhere. In those cases, a determination was made that a prosecution in an Article III court may be in the interest of national security and that providing Miranda warnings (modified to take into account the overseas location of the detainee) was, therefore, desirable to maximize the likelihood that any resulting statements would be admissible at trial. In practice, Miranda warnings have been provided to Bagram detainees in only a small handful of cases out of over 4,000 individuals detained and interrogated by the FBI.
Faced with this, um, discrepancy between Mr. Rogers' allegations and statements by the Director of the FBI and senior DOJ officials, Stein asked the question that so many media types have been dodging:

I asked the former G-man if he was calling the head of the FBI a liar.

He paused.

"I don't know what Mueller's doing," he said. "There's certainly a contradiction between this and what Mueller told me."

If things are really as bad as this self-styled national security expert (and former FBI Guy) says, shouldn't he be leading a House investigation instead of playing games with nonsense amendments?

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