Thursday, March 24, 2011

New FBI Miranda Guidelines for Domestic Terrorism Cases

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the FBI is issuing new rules for agents regarding the reading of Miranda rights to suspects in domestic terrorism instances. This issue was significant in the case of Faisal Shahzad (the Times Square bomber) and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the underwear bomber). In both cases federal agents interrogated the suspects without reading them their Miranda rights which is normally required, however an exception exists to the Miranda rule allowing for questioning in the absence of a reading of the rights in instances of an imminent threat to public safety. The exception is well-recognized, but those calling out agents for their actions in these situations argue that the length of time they questioned the suspects violates the suspects' rights.

These new guidelines are for internal use at the FBI and not new federal law, but their creation is likely to reinvigorate the debate about whether Congress should pass a law codifying the public safety exception and setting up codified guidelines for how it can be used. I've written on this topic at the Progressive Fix before here and here.

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