Today on MSNBC, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) told Andrea Mitchell that Christmas bombing suspect Umar Abdulmutallab should not have been read his Miranda rights.
Specter also went a step further, saying that the FBI should not, in general, read Miranda rights to terror suspects.
I do not believe he should have been read his rights. I think the most important thing is to find what information he has, in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. After the questioning is finished, then the attorney general can make a decision whether to try him in a civil court or in a military commission. Whatever statements he makes would be inadmissible in a civil court if they are admissions or confessions, but he could still be tried before a military commission. If the attorney general thinks he can prove his case in the civil court, without using the admissions or confessions, then I think that is preferable, if he can make his case there. I think that shows the world the quality of our judicial system, and how fair it is. But the most important thing is to get whatever information he has, to prevent future terrorist attacks. More important than his conviction.
Specter, a former district attorney, added that he thought Abdulmutallab could have been convicted in a criminal court even without having his Miranda rights read to him.
You act on the intelligence, then you make a decision as to whether you have enough evidence, without the admissions or confessions. Listen, you can convict that guy without anything he said by way of an admission or confession.
Specter then said that the FBI’s entire approach to Miranda rights in terror cases needs to be rethought.
It’s a little different issue as to whether the FBI automatically gives Miranda warnings. I don’t think they should. If that is their practice, I think they aught to rethink it when they have a terrorist, because information that the terrorist would give is more important than the conviction. And you can still get the conviction in a military commission.
Specter then brushed off Mitchell’s question asking him to compare the Obama administration’s approach to the Bush administration’s.
Whatever anyone has done by way of practice, let’s focus on the core problem: you got a terrorist, he may have information. Don’t do anything by way of giving him Miranda warnings which would discourage him from giving that information to us.