Via Mark Frauenfelder, here is civil rights and criminal defense attorney Harvey Silverglate explaining why you should never talk to the FBI without a lawyer present AND a tape recorder running.
Earlier I wrote about a law professor and a police chief who both agree that one should always invoke the Fifth Amendment to police until one can speak to a lawyer. I have also written before about Silverglate and how to respond when questioned (scroll down).
I have never been questioned by the police about any crime. I don’t even ‘have’ a lawyer, only friends who happen to be lawyers. I suspect that most of us do not see ourselves as having to protect ourselves from law enforcement officers. Not only that, we want to help them solve crimes. It feels vaguely uncomfortable to think that one should tell the law enforcement that one will not talk freely to them. It is as if one has something to hide.
But it is precisely that sense of unease that they exploit in getting us to talk. What Silverglate reminds us is that being honest and law-abiding and having nothing to hide is no protection against being used as a pawn in order to catch other people. Your rights may be casually sacrificed if they have bigger fish to catch.
When I was writing this post, I started to wonder if I was becoming paranoid. The rise of the national security state and the recent trend towards institutionalizing violations of civil liberties has clearly made me much more accepting of the advice of people like Silverglate than I would have been a decade ago.