On Friday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the so-called “public safety” exception to Miranda laws. Under the exception, a suspect like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was not informed of his right to remain silent so that police and investigators may find out if there are more unexploded bombs out among the population.
Miranda rights, of course, are the rights everyone knows from “Law and Order,” the right to remain silent and the right to not be questioned by the police without an attorney present.
“The Obama administration,” said Maddow, “has extended the reach of that public safety exemption, so it essentially can last longer to attend to the type of public safety threats that could accrue in terrorism cases.”
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has not been arrested under enemy combatant status, but is currently on track for a federal trial within the civilian justice system.
“At some point he will be read his rights,” Maddow said. “He’s an American citizen.”
She was joined by telephone by former U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey, who explained that the Obama administration is attempting to firmly establish that the civilian court system is adequate to process terror suspects.
“In this case, there’s been a very high profile announcement that Miranda isn’t going to happen any time soon,” he said.
“Whatever else we can draw from this,” continued Coffey, “it’s going to be a much tougher statement about the administration’s approach to terrorism suspects.”
The former U.S. Attorney explained that the administration is using this case to establish that “we don’t need to ship everyone down to Guantanamo,” that civilian courts are adequate.
While liberals and constitutional scholars may not like it, he said, “the administration may see it as something that’s needed to preserve civilian jury trials.”
Watch the video, embedded below via MSNBC: