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Reading Terrorists Their Rights

11:26 AM, Feb 10, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The Los Angeles Times reports:

The administration has launched a review of the individual detainee cases, aimed at determining who can be prosecuted in federal courts.

"Miranda is an issue -- it is a potential issue in prosecution," said a senior Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the review is ongoing. "The purpose of the review is to see how much of an issue and to see in what cases it is possible to proceed."

The administration is also reviewing whether the controversial military commission system instituted by President George W. Bush should be retained in some form for detainees who cannot be tried because of Miranda or other legal hurdles.

When Sarah Palin accepted the Republican nomination in Minneapolis, she was criticized for saying of Obama that, "Al-Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America and he's worried that someone won't read them their rights." Obama didn't deny the charge, but instead focused on the habeas issue that had gotten so much attention over the summer. Obama said that the right to habeas "says very simply: If the government grabs you, then you have the right to at least ask, 'Why was I grabbed?' And say, 'Maybe you've got the wrong person.'" He went on, "We don't always catch the right person. We may think it's Mohammed the terrorist, but it might be Mohammed the cab driver. You might think it's Barack the bomb-thrower, but it might be Barack the guy running for president."

When I heard Palin read that line at the convention, I thought it was an exaggeration for rhetorical effect. Obama had never called for terrorists to be read Miranda rights on the battlefield. Now, if the Los Angeles Times is to be believed, his administration is considering doing just that. The obvious consequence of such a decision: terrorists would now have the right to remain silent.