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Another Milestone in Terrorists’ Rights

Our friend Steve Hayes blows the whistle on a real scandal (as opposed to a faux “scandal” like waterboarding): on orders of the Obama administration, terrorists captured in Afghanistan are now being given Miranda warnings:

[T]he Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “The administration has decided to change the focus to law enforcement. Here’s the problem. You have foreign fighters who are targeting US troops today — foreign fighters who go to another country to kill Americans. We capture them and they’re reading them their rights — Mirandizing these foreign fighters,” says Representative Mike Rogers, who recently met with military, intelligence and law enforcement officials on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan.

Rogers, a former FBI special agent and U.S. Army officer, says the Obama administration has not briefed Congress on the new policy.

Think back to the days after September 11, 2001, and imagine how pretty much anyone would have reacted to the suggestion that terrorists captured overseas should be “arrested” and read their “rights.” Those days, obviously, are long gone.

You may wonder what on earth the point is. Evidently, the idea is that we may want to prosecute these terrorists someday in American courts. If you have wondered, like me, why we are talking about criminal prosecutions in the U.S. when a terrorist tries to blow up American soldiers in Afghanistan, it turns out that Congress has passed anti-terrorism statutes that purport to reach overseas, so that someone who commits a terrorist act against an American soldier can, indeed, be brought back to the U.S. and prosecuted.

Of course, if the terrorists are under the jurisdiction of American courts with criminal prosecution as the aim, their rights do not stop with Miranda warnings. On the contrary: among other things, they are entitled to the assistance of counsel. So I suppose we should start shipping planeloads of criminal defense lawyers to Afghanistan to make sure that the terrorists’ “rights” are fully protected.

But why would we even consider criminal prosecution for captured terrorists? In what war have we ever brought enemy combatants–legitimate ones, let alone terrorists–back to America to be criminally prosecuted? None, obviously.

All of this is emblematic of the Obama administration’s return to a law enforcement model for fighting terrorism–the same model that failed so spectacularly in the years leading up to September 11. The best we can all do, for now, is hope that history does not repeat itself.

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