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Boston Marathon bomber suspect should get a Miranda warning

April 20, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Did you know that the United States can suspend your civil rights? No, I didn't either.

NBC is reporting that Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old surviving Boston marathon bombing suspect who is currently hospitalized with multiple gunshot wounds, will not be read his Miranda rights when authorities are able to question him. The government plans to question him without first advising him of his right to remain silent or to have an attorney present. There is a legal rule known as the "public safety exception" that the Obama administration is claiming allows them to do this. Authorities have deemed him a public safety threat, as the events of the last days surely suggest.

I am not inclined to be sympathetic to a man who is alleged to have set down a bomb at the finishing line of the marathon on Patriots' Day, killing three people, including an 8-year-old boy, and seriously maiming and crippling nearly 200 people. I'm not sympathetic to a man who allegedly shot and killed a cop who was sitting in a police cruiser and left another cop in the hospital fighting for his life. I'm not sympathetic to a man who allegedly drove over his own brother in his haste to get away and whose alleged actions resulted in the lockdown of a city with a population of more than one million. I am mildly curious about why he might have done these things, but that will probably come out in time. Surely the cops have more than enough evidence of his movements and past travel to find out the how and the why and the when.

My most primitive instincts are all shouting "Who cares?" when I hear that the American Civil Liberties Union has objected to the decision not to Mirandaize Tsarnaev before interrogating him. And yet, our laws only have meaning if they apply to absolutely everyone, even the most evil of criminals who is guilty of among the most heinous deeds. We have lost or given up some of our civil liberties in the desire to stay safe, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks of 12 years ago. I do not want to give up more of my rights in the aftermath of these attacks. It bothers me that the government has this "public safety exception." It bothers me that they are not planning to read Tsarnaev a Miranda warning. I say that he should be advised of his right to remain silent, provided with an attorney, tried in a court of law and sentenced accordingly if found guilty.


Article Comments



Apr-30-13 2:22 PM

I find it troubling that we're losing more and more of our freedoms and protections every year.


Apr-22-13 1:42 PM

They're not required to read you the Miranda warning unless you're under arrest. I've advised people to watch a video called Flex Your Rights about what to do in a traffic stop. Avoiding self incrimination and refusing a search are among the highlights of it. People have every right to remain silent and to insist the cops get a warrant before they open the trunk to their car. In the Boston case this guy IS under arrest and I'm sure the police had no trouble getting a warrant for probable cause.


Apr-22-13 2:07 AM

Although my reasonable inclination is to side with Andrea, a very dark part of me screams out to deny him the Miranda warning, and use that as a basis to release him on a technicality. Follow this up leaking to the public exactly when and where the release will take place, and immediately withdraw all law enforcement upon release, so as to avoid appearance of police harassment. But as I said, this comes from a very dark place inside me, and I would never actually condone any form of mob violence.


Apr-21-13 8:38 AM

If he was awake when he was arrested we know dang good and well they told him of his rights to clear the way for incarceration. That would be automatic to police.


Apr-21-13 8:33 AM

He has the Fifth Amendment without Miranda Rights if he is a citizen. If they declared war against the USA they have no rights except Military Tribunal.

His brother obviously used the Fifth Amendment, Free to Remain Silent. My sympathy goes out to the Family.


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