The Magical Miranda Warning.

Following up on Adam's discussion of Joe Lieberman's proposal to strip American terrorism suspects of their citizenship so as to avoid having to Mirandize them, there's something odd about this -- and I'm not talking about how profoundly un-American it is (sadly, we've gotten used to that). Conservatives seem to have moved their anti-due-process position over to an anti-Miranda position, which is silly because the reading of Miranda rights doesn't grant them. Suspects have, for instance, the right to a lawyer whether you remind them of it or not. The Miranda warning isn't a magical incantation that brings those rights into being.

If you understand that (and granted, it's not a sure thing that Lieberman or anyone else embracing this new attack on due process does), the other possible anti-Miranda rationale is that it will enable us to pull the wool over suspects' eyes for a while if they remain unaware of their rights. But really? I suppose that foreign nationals might be unfamiliar with the rights granted suspects in the American criminal process, but anyone who has spent any time in this country and been exposed to this newfangled invention called "television" can repeat the Miranda warning verbatim (and let's remember that Lieberman is talking about stripping American citizens of their citizenship for the purposes of avoiding this reading). As though suspects are going to say, "Wait a minute -- you mean I have the right to remain silent?!? Holy cow! I had no idea!"

-- Paul Waldman

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