Attorney General Eric Holder on Saturday defended the decision to read the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon terror bombings his Miranda rights.
Holder said the decision was “totally consistent with the laws that we have.”
He also pointed to the federal magistrate on the case.
“The decision to Mirandize was one that the magistrate made,” Holder told CNN as he arrived at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in Washington.
Early on Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler showed up at the hospital unannounced with a federal prosecutor and public defender while the suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was being questioned by the FBI.
He was under interrogation for about 16 hours when Bowler read him his Miranda rights, according to news reports. The FBI thought it had 36 to 48 hours to question Tsarnaev under the pre-Miranda public-safety exemption.
The 19-year-old suspect was arrested four days after the April 15 blasts and was transferred on Friday to Federal Medical Center Devens, an all-male prison outside Boston.
Tsarnaev is being treated for gunshot wounds to the neck and leg sustained in a fierce shootout with police earlier on April 19 that killed his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan.
“We had a two-day period under where authorities questioned him under the public-safety exception,” Holder told CNN on Saturday, referring to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. “Everything was done appropriately, and we got good leads.”
Let’s count the ways he dances:
1. “It’s completely consistent with the laws that we have”. This is quite a dance. Of course, it is not inconsistent with the laws to Mirandize Tsarnaev earlier than one had to in this case. It’s also stupid, unwise, and counter to the best interests of the security of the people of the United States.
2. “The decision to Mirandize was one the magistrate made”. Hogswallop. No magistrate is going to hunt down a suspect in a hospital without prior request and arrangement with the prosecution, in this case, Holder’s team. Holder is simply hoping no one has any sense of procedure and/or he will not be pressed on this point. Someone have a conversation with the magistrate as to how she came to be at the hospital.
3. “We had a two-day period under where authorities questioned him under the public-safety exception”. Well, now, no, you didn’t, did you? You had a 16 hour period, after which investigators were abruptly, inappropriately interrupted. Why did the DOJ want to cut off questioning early? Was someone getting cold feet about the public safety exception? Concern because some on the left was beginning to talk about the suspect’s Miranda rights? Based upon the accounts of the evidence supposedly in the hands of the prosecution, prosecutors did not need to worry about the admissibility of statements from Dhzokhar, they would have enough evidence for prosecuting him. Thus the only real concern should be the safety of the citizens of the United States.
4. “Everything was done appropriately, and we got good leads.” The FBI brought in a special interrogation team. During the 16 hours, Tsarnaev’s story changed from, “we are going to party in NYC”, to “we were planning on taking our bombs to NYC”. He said they got info on how to make the bomb from online. Indications show that to be unlikely, according to Congress members now speaking out. What might investigators have found out, given proper time?