Sen. Feinstein: Whether Osama bin Laden Should be Read Miranda Rights is a 'Murky Area'

November 23, 2009 - 1:24 PM
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said that whether U.S. troops would have to read Osama bin Laden his Miranda rights upon capture was a "murky area."

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)

(CNSNews.com) –  Would U.S. troops have to read Osama bin Laden his Miranda rights if and when they capture him? It's a “murky area,” Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) told CNSNews.com. She said Americans should trust the judgment of Attorney General Eric Holder who, unlike his predecessors, is“not blemished in any way."
 
Under U.S. law, a person who is arrested or placed in legal custody must be told his Miranda rights, which usually read as follows: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”
 
CNSNews.com asked Feinstein on Nov. 19,  “Attorney General Holder said it wouldn’t matter whether or not – when we caught bin Laden – whether or not he was Mirandized. Do you think we should Mirandize him, if we’re going to try him in civilian court as the attorney general suggested?”
 
Senator Feinstein said: “As far as I’m concerned, the Mirandizing is a kind of murky area. We’re looking into it with some specificity and I’m going to take the word of the attorney general right now.”



 
Feinstein was referring to questions raised by Republicans in Congress, particularly Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who questioned Attorney General Holder on Nov. 18 about how the administration would treat terrorists caught in the future, now that they apparently will be sent to federal court to stand trial. (Holder announced on Nov. 13 that five people being held for their role in the 9/11 attacks would be tried in a federal court and not a military tribunal.) 
 
Graham asked Holder, “If we captured bin Laden tomorrow, would he be entitled to Miranda warnings at the moment of capture?” 
 
Holder did not answer the question directly but said that whether bin Laden would be read his Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent during interrogation and the right to a taxpayer-funded attorney, “all depends.”
 
Senator Graham then said, “Well, it does not depend. If you’re going to prosecute anybody in civilian court, our law is clear that the moment custodial interrogation occurs the defendant, the criminal defendant, is entitled to a lawyer and to be informed of their right to remain silent.”
 
Holder answered that the case against bin Laden would not rest on any statements the al Qaeda leader might make to federal interrogators.
 
“Again I’m not – that all depends,” said Holder. “The case against him [bin Laden], both for those cases that have already been indicted – the case that we could make against him for the – for his involvement in the 9/11 case would not be dependent on Miranda warnings, would not be dependent on custodial statements.”
 
Feinstein told CNSNews.com that Americans, and Republicans in particular, need to give Holder and Obama the benefit of the doubt because Holder was “not blemished in any way.”
 
“This is an attorney general that is not blemished in any way, so I have a very hard time understanding why Republicans don’t heave to, just like many of us [Democrats] did in the early days of the Bush administration,” said Feinstein. “We saw things happening that we didn’t like, but you wait to see. You give the administration a chance.
 
According to the Supreme Court in Miranda v Arizona, all civilian criminal defendants, now including terrorists, have the right to:
 
-- Remain silent during interrogation
 
-- Consult with an attorney during interrogation
 
-- Have an attorney appointed at government expense
 
-- Have an attorney present during interrogation
 
-- Stop answering questions at any time during interrogation