WASHINGTON – Giving Miranda warnings to Afghan detainees suspected of terrorism led to a heated discussion between Democrats and Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee.
One such case was a meeting Wednesday,when 13 Democrats outvoted 12 Republicans on a resolution demanding whether to require the Obama administration to disclose sensitive information about whether terrorism suspects captured in Afghanistan were given their Miranda rights.
The Republicans favored the resolution,saying it would reveal whether the administration has changed policies. Democrats opposed the resolution,saying there is no policy change and the information is classified and should not be made public
Because the Democrats prevailed,the resolution goes to the full House with an “adverse” recommendation.
Rep. Steve Cohen,D-Tenn.,argued for the adverse recommendation,saying that “the administration already stated there has been no change in policy on this matter since the Bush administration” and that “any information the administration would have relates to classified or otherwise sensitive case-specific information that should not be publicly released.”
Republicans urged the members of the committee demand that the information about the Afghan detainees should be disclosed.
Rep. Mark Smith,R-Texas.,said the current administration started implementing a new policy for handling the Afghan detainees. As a result of this policy,”increasing numbers of terrorists detained in Afghanistan are being read Miranda warnings.”
Rep. Adam Schiff,D-Calif,said that giving Miranda warnings to foreign nationals suspected of terrorism is “exceedingly rare.”
“We have to allow some discretion for our agents overseas in appropriate cases to give warnings that make sure that the statements that people give can be used against them in a prosecution,” Schiff said. “We shouldn't forbid it under every circumstance,unless we are just going to say we never want to bring these people to justice. I don't think that should be where we are.”
Rep. Daniel Lungren,R-Calif,said,”If,in fact,this administration is making a policy change,a policy shift with respect to the handling of our detainees around the world,we ought to know about that. And if the fact that they are Mirandizing more and more of these detainees is an indication of that,this committee,this Congress,needs to be informed of that.”
Republicans on the committee said foreign combatants suspected of terrorism should not be put in the same basket with domestic legal defendants.
Rep. Ted Poe,R-Texas,said the issue over Miranda rights involves “combatants under no pretext of wearing uniforms,no military,not responsible to any organized state…. They have limited rights under all international law. And for the United States to say we are going to give these folks the Miranda warnings is absurd.”
FBI career agents and prosecutors,in consultation with other agencies,determine whether to apply the Miranda rulings on a case-by-case basis,Dean Boyd,a spokesman for the National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice,said in a statement.
“If,based on that consultation,it appears that national security may be best served by prosecuting that detainee,or at least preserving the prosecution option,the detainee may be Mirandized to ensure that his/her statements are admissible at trial and that the detainee can be brought to justice,” Boyd said.
“There has been no policy change with respect to the use of Miranda warnings with terrorism detainees,” he said.
Miranda warnings have been provided to detainees in Afghanistan in only a handful of cases out of more than 4,000 individuals detained and interrogated by the FBI,Boyd said.