With Miranda, Obama Moves Dangerously to the Right

By Seth Freed Wessler May 11, 2010

A day after Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s working to amend the Miranda law for terrorism suspects, Obama’s chief political adviser, David Axelrod, told CNN that the president is “open to looking at” a change to the rule. The announcement comes amidst aggressive Republican criticism over the Mirandizing of Faisal Shahzad, the American citizen who attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square last week. The Miranda law requires law enforcement officials to inform suspects of their rights to remain silent and to an attorney before interrogation. It prohibits a prosecution from using evidence gathered before a suspect is read these rights. In his move to refashion the Miranda law, Obama is once again positioning himself in the middle, between conservatives who advocate for a wholesale denial of rights to those charged with terrorism and many liberals who remain committed to civil liberties. Obama’s compromised position, though, is unlikely to quell conservative demands that terrorism suspects be broadly denied rights. Even so, it appears the administration has already begun a practice to delay the Mirandizing of terrorism suspects. “Certainly we’re willing to talk to Congress about that," Axelrod said, about changing the rule in cases involving accusations of terrorism. "But they would be in the area of adjustments, not a wholesale revision." Yet the administration may already be fooling with the Miranda law, even without congressional consideration.