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Reading Miranda Rights Remains Hot Button Issue in Terrorist Cases

hot buttonBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — It’s not surprising that some politicians on the Hill — including Sens. John McCain and Joseph Lieberman — started to loudly complain the other day when they learned the FBI read Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad his Miranda rights.

And it’s not surprising the government has been hesitant to jump into the public debate.  On Wednesday Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd  issued a statement when asked by ticklethewire.com whether Justice Department procedures on issuing Miranda rights in terrorist cases had changed since the underwear bomber incident in Detroit in December.

“There has been no change in the long-standing law on Miranda or in the FBI’s current policy governing use of Miranda, which was issued during the prior Administration,” Boyd said.

“Obviously, the facts and circumstance of each particular terror case are different and the government’s actions in each case will depend entirely on the immediate circumstances of the threat and the case.

“In this case, Shahzad is a U.S. citizen and, by law, may not be prosecuted in a military commission. The suspect continues to talk to agents and continues to provide useful information. The agents and officers who took Shahzad into custody and questioned him did precisely what they are trained to do, what their policies require them to do and what this nation expects them to do.”

Then on Thursday, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. told a Senate panel “the giving of Miranda warnings has not been a deterrent” and the suspect was continuing to cooperate.

The Associated Press reported that administration had learned lessons from the December underwear bombing incident by having a team ready, which knew when to read the suspect the Miranda rights.

Reading Miranda rights — the right to remain silent — became a controversial issue back in December when agents Mirandized the underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who has been cooperating with authorities. A boat load of politicians felt Abdulmutallab should never have been read his rights and argued the case should have gone to military court.

This week, the buttons were  pushed all over again.

Sen. Lieberman/senate photo

Sen. Lieberman/senate photo

“My own feeling is that anybody who we decide there is reasonable possibility that they’ve committed a terrorist act ought to be turned over to our military justice system because though it’s an unconventional war, they are prisoners of a war,” Lieberman told Fox News. ” A war that Islamic extremists declared against the United States, certainly, on 9/11/01. So, bottom line, I don’t believe somebody like Faisal Shahzad should receive Miranda rights. I don’t believe he’s entitled to them.”

FBI deputy director John Pistole, at a press conference on Tuesday, explained that the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force first interviewed New York car bomber Shahzad under the “public-safety exception to the Miranda rule”, and said Shahzad was very cooperative. The exception  allows investigators to interview a suspect to find out if there’s an imminent threat to people before Mirandizing them.

“He was eventually transported to another location, Mirandized; and continued talking,” Pistole said.

LA FBI Offers $100,000 Reward for “20 Questions Bandits”

fbi photo

fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI in Los Angeles is offering a bigger than normal reward — $100,000 — for information leading to the arrest of a violent group of bank robbers dubbed the “20 Questions Bandits”.

The FBI said Wednesday that agents and police detectives from Ventura, Orange and Los Angeles counties have been on a hunt for the robbers who are believed responsible for 11 “takeover” robberies. Authorities said the group consists of at least four men and got the name “20 Questions Bandits” because of the multiple questions they asked while inside the banks.

Authorities say the men have assaulted bank employees and robbed individuals during the heists that date back to March 3, 2009.

The FBI said the men during the robberies have been ” extremely violent and, in some cases, displayed weapons.”

Meanwhile, just south of Los Angeles in Sand Diego County, authorities have been stumped by the “Geezer Bandit”, who last week hit his eighth bank.  The bandit, who appears to be in his 70s, has been robbing banks since August 2009. His reward is only up to $16,000.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Senate Gives Nod to New Philly U.S. Atty. Zane Memeger and Conn. U.S. Atty. David Fein

Zane Memeger/law firm photo

Zane Memeger/law firm photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday gave the final nod to Zane D. Memeger to become U.S. Attorney in Philadelphia and David Fein to become the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut.

Memeger replaces interim U.S. Attorney Michael L. Levy, who had been in that position since 2009. Levy will work for Memeger as an assistant U.S. attorney. The confirmations were reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Hartford Courant.

“I am honored and excited to be returning to the office that I proudly served as an assistant, engaging again with respected colleagues, and helping the Eastern District build even further on its reputation of excellence,” he said in a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

David Fein/law firm photo

David Fein/law firm photo

Memeger has been a partner in Philly firm Morgan Lewis and has worked in the Litigation Practice section. He has also been a member of the firm’s Corporate Investigations and White Collar Practice.

Fein is a former assistant U.S. Attorney and White House lawyer under the Clinton administration.

U.S. Attorney For Western District of Pa. Could Be Nominated Soon (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

A Good Week for Atty. Gen. Eric Holder Jr.

For many months now, Attorney Gen. Eric Holder Jr. has been the pinata for some Republicans, who have seldom missed an opportunity to bash him, to use him as a point man to try and prove that the Obama administration is not tough enough on terrorism, and that trying to hold the 9/11 trial in New York was just another sign of bad judgment. This week, he had reason to celebrate with the swift arrest of the New York car bomber. Could his political fortunes be changing?

holder times-square-remarks

By Anne E. Kornblut
Washington Post Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — When Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. stepped up to the lectern at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, it was more than an unusual middle-of-the-night appearance trumpeting the swift arrest of an alleged terrorist. It also marked a rare moment of glory for the attorney general.

Holder has been on rocky ground for months. His decision last November to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-declared mastermind behind the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, in federal court in Manhattan was quickly opposed by New York lawmakers, then reversed by the White House. He was criticized for having the suspect in the failed Christmas Day bombing read his Miranda rights soon after his arrest — and then later for quipping that the same would not happen to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden because officials would be “reading Miranda rights to a corpse.”

A good week doesn’t necessarily make for a turnaround. But with the arrest of Faisal Shahzad in connection with Saturday’s attempted bombing in Times Square, Holder and the law enforcement agencies he oversees were able to claim a victory for the administration.

To read full story click here.

Judge Rejects Fed Prosecutors Appeal to Detain Michigan Militia Members

Christian Militia Hutaree patch/from website

Christian Militia Hutaree patch/from website

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

In another blow to prosecutors, a federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday denied a request by the U.S. Attorney’s Office that she reconsider her ruling to release nine jailed members of the Michigan-based Hutaree Christian militia on bond  pending trial.

As a result, the jailed members could be released as early as Thursday.

“The Government did not demonstrate serious questions going to the merits, nor did it demonstrate that there is irreparable injury to the Government, or to the public, which outweighs the harm Defendants would suffer if a stay is granted,” U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts ruled  Wednesday in a written ruling.

Roberts on Monday ruled, against the government’s objections, that the members be freed on bond. The government, which has alleged that the members were plotting to kill cops, filed an appeal of that ruling, asking the judge reverse her ruling to release the defendants.

On Wednesday, she denied that. The government could appeal that ruling.

On Monday, Roberts ruled that the defendants be released and said: “The United States is correct that it need not wait until the people are killed before it arrests conspirators. But defendants are also correct: their right to engage in hate-filled, venomous speech, is a right that deserves First Amendment protection.”

Read Judge’s Ruling

NYPD Tries to Distance Itself From FBI Surveillance Lapse in Bombing Case

nypd badgeBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The talk among law enforcement on Wednesday was that the New York police were trying to distance themselves and blame the FBI for losing the surveillance of  car bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad.

The media was also pointing to it as a flaw in what still remains a remarkable case for the short time it took to arrest the suspect.

Still,  some current and former law enforcement members pointed out that it is not uncommon to lose a surveillance target. And they said it was often better to lose someone temporarily than to blow the surveillance and get spotted.

Newsweek reported that Shahzad was at JFK airport on Monday for more than three hours without FBI surveillance, and that agents had apparently lost track of him. Shahzad had gone to the airport to catch a flight to Dubai. He was arrested after he had already boarded the plane, but it had not yet taken off.

One law enforcement source on Wednesday defended the FBI’s work.

“This situation was extremely fast-moving, involving multiple locations. The FBI identified him and within a few hours had already located him and begun surveillance, which, by its nature, involves risk-benefit considerations with respect to potential effects on the course of the investigation if the surveillance is detected,” the source said, commenting on the condition that he not be named.

“Risks can be mitigated by building in layers of redundancy, especially in a situation such as this where the subject was aware of the numerous media reports which alerted him to the fact he was being pursued by law enforcement. In this case, he was added to appropriate watch lists and was caught as he tried to escape.”

N.Y. Bomb Suspect Triggers Tougher “No Fly” Rule

plane window2By Allan Lengel
For AOL NEWS

WASHINGTON — From an evil deed comes some good.

By slipping onto a Dubai-bound plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday night despite landing on the “no-fly” list, suspected would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad highlighted a major gap in airline security — one that federal officials vowed today to close.

The Transportation Security Administration announced it will require airlines to check no-fly lists within two hours of being electronically notified of an urgent or “special circumstance expedited no-fly name,” as was the case Monday. The previous policy called for airlines to check the list within 24 hours of getting such a notice.

“As we saw with Faisal Shahzad, in an expedited no-fly nomination the airline is responsible for manually checking the name against the no-fly list within 24 hours,” an administration official said.

“In his case, the airline seemingly didn’t check the name, and the suspect was allowed to purchase a ticket and obtain a boarding pass.”

To read more click here.

White House Begins Search For New FBI Director to Replace Mueller

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

Robert Mueller III / file fbi photo

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

WASHINGTON — The White House has started interviewing candidates to succeed the stoic FBI Robert S. Mueller III, who is set to step down next year, the website Main Justice reported.

The website reported that it was uncertain who was being considered but it mentioned possible candidates: Ronald Noble, the head of Interpol; Chicago U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald; James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General; New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and ex-LA police chief William Bratton.

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

NYPD Commissioner Kelly/nypd photo

Mueller, 65, a former U.S. Attorney, took over the FBI Sept. 4, 2001, just before the Sept. 11 attacks that forced the agency to reorganize and commit far more resources to counterterrorism.