Comment to politics blog at care2.com
I like what Holder said and how he said it. I think it was carefully put, unlike political barbs that over-simplify. Holder said that the “public safety exception” to the Miranda requirements allowed police to delay giving Miranda warnings for a few hours when the officers needed information about a crime in progress to protect the public. If they caught a suspect in the course of a bank robbery, for example, they getting information quickly and was more important than providing a lawyer quickly. The warning against self-incrimination and the lawyer would still be provided as soon as the emergency was over.
Holder is saying that in the terrorism context, the “public safety exception” should give law enforcement more time to interrogate a suspect and get information about ongoing terrorist activity before providing Miranda warnings and legal representation. There are a number of issues to be looked at about treatment of a suspect, but there is nothing wrong, in my book, with being practical and facing changing circumstances. Holder is saying that Congress and the administration, working together, can craft a law that will meet constitutional requirements while updating the public safety exception to meet the needs of law enforcement in facing terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. This is an incremental approach, respecting the laws and constitution, but also asserting that law enforcement needs new procedures to deal with current problems.