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How John McCain Thinks Faisal Shahzad Should be Handled

May 4, 2010 - by Donny Shaw

As you no doubt have heard, federal agents last night arrested Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen suspected of planting the failed car-bomb in Time Square on Saturday. There isn’t a lot of information out yet on how the arrest went down or whether Shahzad is connected to foreign terrorist groups, but Sen. John McCain [R, AZ] today is saying that if the agents read Shahzad his Miranda rights, informing him that he has a right to remain silent until he goes to court, they made a big mistake.

The Hill reports:

It would have been a serious mistake to have read the suspect in the attempted Times Square car bombing his Miranda rights, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday. […]

“Obviously that would be a serious mistake…at least until we find out as much information we have,” McCain said during an appearance on “Imus in the Morning” when asked whether the suspect, 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen from Pakistan.

“Don’t give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it’s all about,” McCain added.

Thanks to a bill McCain introduced earlier this year, we know exactly how McCain thinks the arrest should have been handled. The bill is called the Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention and Prosecution Act and it empowers federal authorities to hand over terrorist suspects, called “unprivileged enemy belligerent” in the bill, to the military for interrogation and indefinite dentition without trial, even if they are an American citizen. Miranda rights would be specifically waived, denying the detainee a right to a lawyer and a right to refuse to cooperate.

The bill would establish “high-value detainee interrogation groups” that would be in charge of deciding whether or not a terrorist suspect is in fact an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” (definition here). If there is any disagreement about a suspect’s status as an unprivileged enemy belligerent, the final decision goes to the President. The bill text states that “an individual, including a citizen of the United States, determined to be an unprivileged enemy belligerent […] may be detained without criminal charges and without trial for the duration of hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.”

While McCain’s bill deals with the constitutional protections associated with U.S. citizenship by just flat-out removing the rights for terrorism suspects, his friend Sen. Joe Lieberman [I, CT] thinks terrorist suspects should have their U.S. citizenship revoked so federal authorities can detain and interrogate them the same way they do foreign enemies.

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