PETRAEUS ON MIRANDA RIGHTS AT BAGRAM.

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I'm at the Center for a New American Security's day-long conference today to learn a few things about Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. I won't be live-blogging the whole thing, but one interesting note came just after General David Petraeus's keynote speech. Yesterday, Fox News passed along a report from Republican Congressman Mike Rogers that detainees in Afghanistan and particularly at Bagram Airforce base are, on the orders of the Obama administration, being read their Miranda Rights -- the "right to remain silent," etc., afforded to domestic criminal suspects -- which could somehow compromise their intelligence value. (This is, presumably, because 'mirandizing' suspects would make them legally ineligble for "enhanced interrogation," which is already prohibited by executive order.)

A Fox News correspondent at the CNAS conference lucked out after Petreaus' speech and managed to be called on for one of three allowed questions; he asked the general, who supervises Afghanistan as the head of U.S. Central Command, about the Miranda reports. "This is the FBI doing what the FBI does," Petraeus replied. "These are cases where they are looking at potential criminal charges. We're comfortable with this." He denied that his soldiers and other relevant American agents are reading Miranda rights to detainees, some of whom are detained as enemy combatants, while others are high-value anti-terrorism targets. (A U.S. federal court recently ruled that some Bagram detainees have the same habeas rights as prisoners in Guantanamo Bay.)

While it seems that Rogers (and the Fox News correspondent) are happy to play up fears that the Obama administration is soft on terrorism, Petraeus' didn't seem to be concerned by the DOJ practice, which the DOJ denies began with the current administration. In another portion of his speech, discussing the comprehensive strategy launched against al-Qaueda in Iraq as an indirect model of counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan, Petraeus noted the importance of counterinsurgency amoung detainee populations and the need for releasing certain detainees to help win over the populace, noting that by the end of his time in Baghdad the recdivism rate among released detainees was a very impressive 1 percent.

-- Tim Fernholz

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