We must defend civil rights... even for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
After a day-long manhunt, and the lock-down of a major American city, the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was finally taken into custody on Friday. A Watertown resident tipped police after noticing blood on a boat in his backyard, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found hiding out inside. Authorities report that he was severely wounded before agreeing to surrender.
According to the New York Times, a federal law enforcement official stated that the FBI is invoking a “public safety exception,” which allows them to delay reading the suspect his Miranda rights. The Supreme Court ruled in 1984 that the FBI has a “narrow” right to delay mirandizing a suspect in “exceptional cases,” where the FBI believes there to be an imminent threat to public safety.
However, this exception is only temporary, and the FBI must read a suspect their rights once it becomes clear no additional threats exist. Information obtained by questioning the suspect during this “exception” period may also be considered as evidence during a future trial.
This legal loophole is a concern for many civil rights advocates, even when the suspect in question is a potential terrorist. Yet, some in our media and political arena aren't concerned with civil rights, and are calling for Tsarnaev to be held as an enemy combatant, and taken to Guantanamo Bay. But we must not circumvent our justice system simply because of the horrific nature of these crimes.
When we deny one individual their civil rights – no matter how evil we may believe them to be – we chip away at the civil liberties that protect all of us. We must defend these rights at all costs....even when it means defending the rights of Dzhokar Tsarnaev.