Senator Lindsey Graham Says Suspend the Constitution For Boston Marathon Suspect And Designate Him An Enemy Combatant
In a series of tweets posted by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham on Friday, the conservative, ‘strict constructionist’ argued that nineteen-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev—suspected of being one of the Boston Marathon terrorists and taken into custody on Friday evening—should be treated as an enemy combatant and denied his due process rights under the Constitution.
Were the Administration to follow Graham’s advice, Tsarnaev would forever be denied his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and to have the counsel of an attorney. Without these rights granted to all defendants pursuant to Miranda, anything this suspect might say to interrogators before being advised of these rights would still be admissible in a court of law.
I say ‘forever denied’ because Mr. Tsarnov will not be getting his Miranda warnings for a period of time even without declaring him an enemy combatant.
As a result of an exception to Miranda called The Public Safety Rule, the suspect can—and will—be questioned without being ‘Mirandized” for the purpose of determining if there is an imminent threat to the public safety. In this instance, any information Tsarnaev provides the specialized team that will be interrogating him will remain admissible at trial, even though he has not received his Miranda warnings.
However, this exception to Miranda begins to ‘fade’ from the moment the questioning begins. And while there is no set time limit for the exception stated in the law, it is generally assumed that the period for such questioning to determine whether an immediate public threat may exist typically cannot extend for more than forty-eight hours.
Beyond this invocation of the Public Safety Rule, Tsarneav will be accorded all the rights of due process prescribed by the Constitution, including a civil trial before a jury of his peers.He will have the right to be silent and will be entitled to a lawyer.
Were Lindsey Graham to have his way, due process rights would never be afforded the bombing suspect who is an American citizen. This would include his right to a civilian trial as, were he to be designated an enemy combatant, Tsarneav would be tried by a military tribunal where the constitutional protections extended to the rest of us are virtually non-existent.
Keep in mind that the horrible crimes that Mr. Tsarneav is accused of committing occurred on US soil and that, no matter how heinous the terrorist acts Tsareav is alleged to have carried out, he remains an American citizen with all the rights that come with the status. Also keep in mind that, in this country, we are all innocent until proven guilty.
For Senator Graham to spend the past few weeks arguing that background checks for terrorists, criminals or anyone else who want to purchase a gun at a gun show violates the Second Amendment to our Constitution only to turn around and seek to strip an American citizen of his constitutional due process rights is nothing short of the epitome of hypocrisy and beyond abhorrent.
Should the accused ultimately be convicted of the charges, we could each creatively dream up any number of punishments we would like to personally administer to such a sick and evil human being. But, until that conviction should occur, he must be given the same rights and protections that we are all privileged to experience as Americans.
I can respect anyone who stands up for adhering to the United States Constitution. But giving effect to that document does not mean picking and choosing when and where to apply it simply because it does not always suit the desires of a United States Senator.
Lindsey Graham needs a good, long time-out.
Maybe—just this once—he should skip his never-ending weekend appearances on the Sunday talk shows and spend some time sitting in the corner thinking about how he has lost touch with reality and what it really means to be loyal to the United States Constitution and the principles for which it stands.
We’ll all be better of for it.
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UPDATE: Saturday, April 20, 2013:
It is the rarest of moments when I find myself in total agreement with Glenn Beck. Early this morning, Mr. Beck tweeted his support for reading the accused suspect his rights and according him all of his due process rights under the Constitution. Beck tweeted, “I despise this terrorist and all he has done but we must not lose sight of who we are. HE IS AN AMERICAN. Read him his rights! We are not in Russia.” Beck added another salient point in an additional tweet where he wrote, “I don’t want that opinion but the constitution is not opinion. Boston. Remember J.Adams. He defended the British. Stand for truth.”
See that…even a broken clock is right twice a day!