US may amend Miranda rights for terror suspects

The debate on Miranda rights was sparked in the US after Faisal Shahzad`s arrest.

Updated: May 10, 2010, 13:02 PM IST

New York: The Obama administration may consider modifying Miranda rights to deal with terror suspects and to make questioning easier for investigators, an official has said, amid a raging debate over protections offered to alleged terrorists.

Following the foiled bomb plot attempted by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad in Times Square, there has been a debate over whether the Miranda rights should be loosened for terror suspects.

Miranda rights refer to a warning given by the police on arrest that the suspect has the right to remain silent, and any information collected minus this warning is inadmissible in court.

The administration has received flak for reading out Miranda rights to terror suspects like Shahzad and Nigerian bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day.

Speaking on the ABC channel, United States Attorney General Eric Holder noted that Obama administration may consider modifying Miranda protections to deal with the terror threat.

"We`re now dealing with international terrorism.... I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying that public-safety exception," Holder said.

"And that`s one of the things that I think we`re going to be reaching out to Congress, to come up with a proposal that is both constitutional, but that is also relevant to our times and the threats that we now face," he added.

Constitutionally, the police have to tell the arrestee that he or she "has the right to remain silent, and that anything the he or she says will be used against that person in court," and the suspect "must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning".

The law comes from a 1966 Supreme Court ruling which found that the rights of Ernesto Miranda, who was later convicted of rape, had been violated during this arrest.

Under the public safety exception, Miranda warnings can be ignored if there is an imminent threat to public safety.

The debate on Miranda rights was sparked after the arrest of Shahzad, who tried to blow up Times Square with a car bomb.

In his first TV appearance after Shahzad`s arrest, Holder also confirmed that the Pakistan Taliban was behind the attack.

"We`ve now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack," Holder said.

PTI