The menace of faith healing »« For whom the government works

We love the constitution except when it’s inconvenient

It looks like I was premature in giving the Justice Department credit for reading Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights. It appears that they questioned him for a long time before a judge insisted on reading him his rights on Monday. So once again, we are dependent on the judiciary to intervene to make sure the government does not violate the rights of people. (In a separate case, a federal judge is challenging the government’s claim to broad secrecy powers.)

Judge [Marianne] Bowler convened the brief, makeshift court hearing in the hospital room about 16 hours after the complaint was filed. Her reading of the Miranda warning came as part of the formal presentation of charges to the suspect, an act that would normally take place in court.

Judge Bowler was the first government official to advise Mr. Tsarnaev of his right to remain silent after his capture Friday night, officials briefed on the matter said.

The Daily Show highlights something that I have noticed, that some of the very people who wave the US constitution with pride as evidence of the superior values of the US are the same ones who will discard it as soon as it becomes a hindrance to achieving some short term goal or satiating their fear-based lust for vengeance. When that happens, they throw due process and the protections in the Bill of Rights out the window. There seems to be only one of them that they view as utterly sacred and inviolable. Can you guess which one?

(This clip was aired on April 24, 2013. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post.)

Comments

  1. deepak shetty says

    There seems to be only one of them that they view as utterly sacred and inviolable. Can you guess which one?
    Im guessing its not separation of church and state :)

  2. sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d says

    So once again, we are dependent on the judiciary to intervene to make sure the government does not violate the rights of people. …the very people who wave the US constitution with pride as evidence of the superior values of the US are the same ones who will discard it as soon as it becomes a hindrance

    I’m not a US citizen, but that’s the reason for taking pride in the US constitution, surely: the fact that it enforces rights against powerful hypocrites and blowhards on behalf of unpopular and hated men and that that resistance to power and prejudice derives from articles of the constiution itself..

  3. ollie says

    There is a public safety exemption to the Miranda rights reading in the event that the suspect might know something that can prevent an immediate threat (e. g. another bomb). But…I think that this means that what he said prior to the Miranda warning might be inadmissible in court.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/22/dzhokhar-tsarnaev-miranda_n_3134745.html

    “The delay in reading Tsarnaev his rights may lead to any statements made before he was given the Miranda warnings being ruled inadmissible in court, said Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.

    “There was never a basis for the public safety exception,” Dershowitz said Monday on MSNBC. “As you know, when they announced it, the police had already announced that the public safety danger was over, they had arrested everybody. And if they try to circumvent these rules by not giving him his Miranda rights, I can easily see a federal court saying, ‘You can’t use any of his statements that he gave you in writing in the hospital.’””

  4. steve b says

    Right-wingers sure do love invoking the Constitution. They might consider reading more than one-half of one amendment.

  5. slc1 says

    I don’t think they need to introduce anything he said before he was given his Miranda rights at trial; they have enough evidence to fry him 10 times over.

  6. jamessweet says

    One thing that really bothered me about the resistance to mirandizing Dzhokar is that I didn’t really see there being much of a point. The Brothers Tsarnaev had been living in the US for about a decade, and presumably they watched at least one cop show during those ten years. In all likelihood, Dzhokar had heard the Miranda rights and was at least vaguely aware of them. That doesn’t mean he necessarily understood them, but then again just reading them to a suspect and asking him if he understands doesn’t actually mean he understands them either.

    It seemed like they were trampling due process for a theoretical and in all likelihood nonexistent benefit. Sad.

  7. jamessweet says

    Of course, one angle I heard is that the rights violation allowed Carmen Ortiz, US attorney for the District of Massachusettes, to do some anti-terror muscle-flexing, thereby drawing attention away for the negative press she has been receiving as the driving force behind the prosecution of Aaron Swartz….

  8. Mano Singham says

    I think they did it to create a precedent that they can and will exploit in the future. They used an extreme case to increase government power. It is a common enough tactic, seen in its extreme form in the responses to the events of 9/11.

  9. MNb says

    This is a highly worrying development not typical of the USA. I have noticed the same in my native country, The Netherlands. To give just one example: people seeking asylum are locked up in detention camps (and not allowed to work or get educated); when their request is rejected they are send away (ie have to live on the streets). That’s bad enough, but recently being illegal in The Netherlands has become a crime, so they can be locked up again. On top of it several politicians think it a good idea to make it punishable by law if citizens (like me) actually help illegals by giving them a place to sleep, food or whatever.
    You think the USA suck when it comes to human rights? I suspect the Netherlands, with its entire reputation of being liberal and tolerant very well might beat you to it.
    Yes, the only instance still sorts of protecting human rights is the judiciary. Of course Dutch judges often are branded as leftish neo-Marxist softies and the likes.

  10. sundoga says

    Precisely. The independent judiciary is our only defense against fundamentally untrustworthy government. The guarantee of judicial review and protection is the only true guarantee of freedom, in any nation.

  11. twosheds1 says

    Funny you should mention cops shows and Miranda. TV doesn’t seem to be as fond these days of showing cops reading the Miranda rights as I remember them growing up in the ’70s. It would be interesting to study to see if my impression was true. It seems to reflect a changing mood in the US against the rights of the accused.

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