There has been much debate about whether the hospitalized suspect in the Boston bombings should have been given his Miranda warnings as soon as possible. As we have seen in other terrorism cases, the knee-jerk reaction by the public and government alike is often to take measures that erode away at our protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
Such is the case, once again. The FBI and DOJ say they are using the “public safety exception” as a legal way to interrogate the suspect without advising him of his Miranda rights to remain silent and his right to an attorney. I was joined today by Alan Dershowitz, one of the most renowned attorneys and legal scholars in the nation to discuss the case.
First off, what is the “Miranda warning?” In the1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court laid out six very specific warnings that police must give suspects in a custodial situation before they are interrogated: "The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him."
There are a few valid exceptions to the Miranda requirement, with the public safety exception (‘PSE’) being one of them. The 1984 case of New York, v. Quarles, the Supreme Court carved out this exception for situations “where concern for public safety must be paramount to adherence to the literal language of the prophylactic rules enunciated in Miranda." The court ruled that for statements gathered under the PSE to be later admissible in court, the questioning must involve a scenario "in which police officers ask questions reasonably prompted by a concern for the public safety."
Many of our listeners, and quite a few public officials, have said over the last week that the suspect not only should not be Mirandized, but actualy deserves NO typical constitutional protections, and should be tried by a military tribunal as an ‘enemy combatant.’ However, Dzhokar Tsarnaev is an American citizen accused of setting off bombs and murdering a police officer on American soil. Obama’s DOJ has repeatedly said that terror suspects arrested inside the U.S. should be handled within our criminal justice system. And, the White House announced today that there will not be a military tribunal.
Dershowitz told me in no uncertain terms that investigators should read the bombing suspect his rights as soon as possible in order not to jeopardize the case.
“They should give him his Miranda warnings, because there’s no public safety exception that’s applicable here,” Dershowitz said. “The police have told the people of Boston, ‘go about your business, we’ve got the two suspects, there are no bombs around.’ The public safety exception is designed not to gather information to prevent future crimes, but for immediate ticking-bomb situations.”
There appears to be a large amount of evidence implicating the two brothers in the bombing, including videos and photos. So, what’s the worry with not Mirandizing them right away?
“The reason is because they have to prove intention. It’s not enough to prove that he planted the bombs in order to be convicted of federal terrorism, which carries the death penalty,” according to Dershowitz. “They have to be able to prove that he intended to commit an act of terrorism. They may get that information from his statements that are un-Mirandized, and the courts may keep them out. This may deny them the death penalty.”
And, Dershowitz told me that it sets a very bad precedent.
“I think it expands the PSE beyond where it was intended by the courts, and it basically shows contempt for our constitutional rules, and an attempt to circumvent the Constitution. We can prosecute this man within the Constitution and within the Miranda rules, and I think we can do it successfully.”
I also asked Dershowitz why should we should be worried about a suspected terrorist's Miranda rights, when persons summoned before a federal grand jury in ANY case have zero rights.
"Well, it’s a terrible rule…They were never intended to be that by the framers of the Constitution. You have no rights in front of a grand jury,” Dershowitz said. “You don’t have a right to a lawyer in front of a grand jury. It’s awful, it’s really an inquisition.”
You gotta help me here. I don’t understand. Terrorists writing in their online magazine Inspire, claim they will force America into bankruptcy by detonating bombs that costs them hundreds of dollars, but costs us billions of dollars via continual increases in security. Terrorists call it "Death by a Thousand Cuts." (Foreign Policy magazine, 11-23-10, David Gartenstein-Ross.)
One of the terrorist bombs that we caught and defused on a UPS jet allegedly costs $4,200.00 for them to make and deliver. This initiated our first purchase of hundreds of body scanners and additional national security carrying a price tag of billions of dollars. Al Qaeda points to the bankruptcy of the Soviet Union because of their war in Afghanistan as evidence that they can do the same to America.
This is what I don’t understand. Why do we keep adding anymore security? Why don’t we eliminate the security we can’t afford… the security costs that are hurting all American industries? It’s called the “Friction Economy.” (The Friction Economy American business just got the bill for the terrorist attacks) and even TEN YEARS AGO, it cost us a minimum of $151 billion dollars a year! How much do you think it is today?
The odds of being on a plane which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 for over ten years. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000!
So what are the chances of being hit by a bomb at a marathon, a Super Bowl, or a Mardi Gras? Infinitesimal. So, why don’t we just go about our business and expand the economy with the money we would spend on security and not make the terrorists predictions (U.S. bankruptcy) come true?
I still don’t know, but I do have a suspicion...fear. Fear sometimes causes the human animal to do dangerous things, in order to avoid danger.
The photo above on the left is me in August of 2011. I was going through chemo to fight a life-threatening disease. I was bloated, overweight, and had no energy.
The photo above on the right is me, more recently. It's the product of living healthier and keeping the right attitude...and never, never, quitting.
We all have ups and downs. But please know that living healthier is more than just physical.
As I mentioned in my other blog today, Mr. Alan Watts, a counselor for young graduating students who still don’t know what to do with their degree or their lives. His concept--“it is better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” Please, indulge me for three minutes and listen to his talk. It’s perfect for the “Think Tank” process…I promise you, it’ll make every parent (and, hopefully, their children) think…
1.30.13 - How many of us worry about sending our children to universities…even if we’ve put the money away? Do you cringe like I do, when you hear reports that claim the cost of a college education may not be worth the price? My guess—the answer for most of you is YES.
Well, let’s explore the debate. First, let’s consider a very interesting approach by Mr. Alan Watts, a counselor for young graduating students who still don’t know what to do with their degree or their lives. His concept--“it is better to have a short life that is full of what you like doing, than a long life spent in a miserable way.” Please, indulge me for three minutes and listen to his talk. It’s perfect for the “Think Tank” process…I promise you, it’ll make every parent think…
And how interesting; I just read a report in the New York Times by Milton Friedman, that expresses doubt that our current education system will deliver the future we need. In one paragraph I think Friedman points to the future problem that Mr. Watts may have the, or at the least the partial answer to the threat. Friedman asks, “How do we adapt? It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the right education than less, that we will need top development skills that are complementary to technology rather than one that can be easily replaced.” Friedman’s talking about technology takeover and how we must constantly change and educate ourselves just to keep up, or we become obsolete. More jobs, fewer people needed. But, what about jobs that robots and lower pay can't compete with…jobs we produce with our creativity…jobs that can't be exported?
I guess the immediate questions are simply this: if we have a child who likes horses, do we encourage them to open a dude ranch? If we have a child who loves to kayak, should we open a river guide tour group? Isn’t that what Mr. Watts is saying, you need a passion to find your bliss. You can wake up every day dying to get to work because you have a like that will make your very short life carry a rare state of bliss. Many times history points out a, like also attracts fame and fortune. So, if we encourage our children to make a living doing something they like, even if it means little or no college…could that a better pathway toward success?
At this point I don’t know if I have the parenting skills to know if the Watts line of action is a good idea. But I do know that Mr. Watts thinks in a direction I’ve never considered…and that, my friend, is the bottom line, of a Think Tank. I hope this makes you think too.
Garland@wwl.com - 2.18.13 Louisiana I love you, but you confuse me sometimes. You don’t want to pay any more taxes. You want a reduction in crime. You don’t trust government and law enforcement. BUT, you’re all for a system that does almost none of the above…It’s called THE WAR ON DRUGS.
Let’s take a look at the “benefits” of this on-going war:
1. You don’t want to pay more taxes. Well, yes, you do. You love the fact that we’re tough on crime. It costs a WWWWwhole lotta money, but that’s o.k., because we get?????
2. Reduction in crime. Oh wait, sorry, we’ve got the promises, but few results. It’s only been that way about 40 years, but we’re assured salvation’s coming every day.
3. You don’t trust government? Well, yes, you do. Who the hell do you think backs the plan that costs you so much in taxes?
4. You don’t trust law enforcement? Ohhh yes you do. You’ll back a system that has the potential to put your children in the world’s biggest prison system for a chemical addiction.
OK, given all the above…Your favorite conservative Governor must be making you feel schizophrenic. Here is Bobby Jindal’s latest headline: “Jindal seeks release for nonviolent drug offenders.” That’s right. Bobby Jindal will agree to “let some nonviolent drug offenders out of prison early if they complete an intensive treatment program." http://www.wwl.com/pages/15547262.php?contentType=4&contentId=12407071
Now, before you go calling him “Pyush-liberal-commie-Jindal,” how about we check to see if this idea has ever been implemented.
Portugal July 2001: Decriminalized every imaginable drug from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. . (Did not make legal…decriminalized. Distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense.)
Many thought Lisbon would become a drug-tourist haven. Others predicted usage rates among youths to surge. Studies from 2001-2007 suggest they were wrong on both.
Let’s compare Portugal’s decriminalization to the “benefits” of incarceration:
1. 17% reduction in HIV cases among drug users. Sounds like a reduction in health costs.
2. Drug use among adolescents declined.
3. Street value of drugs decreased. Sounds like a reduction in the kill-for-profit motive.
4. The number of drug addicts in Portugal was cut in half over the study period.
5. Police say that they’ve been freed from focusing on low-level users, which gave them the chance to focus on dealers and importers, the kingpins.
6. In the mid-to-late ‘90s, at the peak of the Portugal drug problem, about 1 percent of Portuguese were a problematic drug user, was hooked on heroin or some other drug. The studies show a drop of 50%, while the population has gone up about 10 percent.
But unlike conservative-liberal websites, let me direct you to the converse of this argument. NPR: “Mixed Results For Portugal’s Great Drug Experiment,” January 20, 2011. http://www.npr.org/2011/01/20/133086356/Mixed-Results-For-Portugals-Great-Drug-Experiment
According to this report the number of drug users in Portugal went down, but as of today have gone back up. The author gives a detailed report on both sides, but some evidence does suggest that when Portugal’s citizens are interviewed about their lifetime drug history they are more forthcoming because they know they won’t be prosecuted, thus an increase in honesty, not usage.
The fact of the matter is any arguments can be culled from the internet to fit your dogma. This website tries not to do that.
But let’s go back to lists. Are these really the “benefits” you want? Do you really not care to trade violence, incarceration and the attendant costs for addiction treatment?
Do you really believe law enforcement, when they trot out the media for a look see at the latest cache of weapons, drugs, and derelicts, and tell you this is evidence that the war on drugs is working?
Do you really think non-profit prison corporations and their behind-the-scenes power brokers are going to allow a reduction in crime that would allow a reduction in corporate-shareholder profits?
Now, explain this one to me. We are a society that said “hell no” to the prohibition of alcohol. After prohibition was lifted, you would think everyone would get drunk much more. The CATO Institute, specifically Policy Analysis No. 157, showed drinking declined after booze was made legal. We know that in large amounts booze often leads to violence and destructive activity. WE KNOW THIS, but we have no problem with its legality. We know that lots of people used to kill, wound and beat others during prohibition, but they don’t now (unless they’re drunk). WE KNOW THIS, but it’s still okay.
Now, it’s all right to put someone in a very expensive cave for smoking a plant or swallowing a pill. The plants and pills make one mostly stupid and sleepy. WE KNOW THAT non-violent drugs do make people kill, wound and beat others because of the profit. Is this okay, too?
We took the profit out of liquor. Drinking went down and they stopped the killing.
Now, we want to keep the profit in drugs for fear we will take more drugs while killing each other?
Does this make sense to you? In particular, that “while killing each other” part? Really?? Tell me how.
Saints fans are still understandably fuming about how NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled the whole "bounty" investigation into the team's pay-for-performance program. Fans and players alike maintain that Goodell never provided any evidence that there was any intent to injure other players. I still get angry calls and texts about it almost every day on the "Think Tank" by fuming Black & Gold fans.
It was cold comfort late in the season when former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue vacated the suspensions of four current and former Black & Gold players. Though none of the players actually served any suspension time during their appeals, the whole saga was yet another off-field distraction for a team without their coach.
Now, Goodell is coming to New Orleans, as the biggest sports and media spectacle in the world gets ready to crank up. And many fans say they are far from "over it." On WWL's Facebook page and across other social media sites, many fans gleefully boast about what they would do if they had the chance to run into Goodell next week.
Really? I mean, REALLY?
We've seen what happens when fans in other cities are, to quote Hokie, "turds." Saints fans have told us of ugly treatment received on the road in some cities. And the enduring memory of the 2007 NFC Championship game is a Bears fan holding a sign reading, "Bears finishing what Katrina started."
Har-har. Very funny. 1,800 people died, and this clown stood grinning outside Soldier Field. The memories of those days and months still cause nightmares for many.
Look, it's impossible to transfer or transplant Southern Hospitality to other parts of the country. It's just not in their genes. Visitors from other parts of the country often give you a double-take when you say "Yes Sir" or "Yes Ma'm." For us, it's just part of how we were raised and how we live our lives. Tourists come to our region for our warm and open engagement, something many of them are sorely lacking in their hometowns.
There are practical, pragmatic reasons to not say something stupid or embarrassing to Roger Goodell. While he is in New Orleans, he will be tailed and trailed by a mob of media, waiting for *something* to happen with the locals. And any negative image (or videos) of locals dissing Goodell will wind up on the evening news, and will also likely go viral across the internet and social media.
We talked to Michael Bayham, the Saints fan who took the infamous picture in Chicago. And even he agrees it's time to move on.
"This game is far too important to this city and region," Bayham said. "I understand the frustration of fans, but I think Who Dats need to also remember the spotlight we're in this week."
The Super Bowl is an extremely rare opportunity to showcase a city's vitality in any year. This is the first one we've had since before Katrina, and it will be an unprecedented opportunity to let the world know just how far our city and region have recovered from one of the worst natural (and man-made) disasters in history.
So, those are the practical reasons not to act an ass around Goodell. But the basic, bottom line reason: If you do something stupid around Goodell, you will come across looking like that Bears fan in 2007, now and for years to come.
Tone down the rhetoric. Just like the Saints are more than just a football team to our area, this Super Bowl is more than just a football game. It would suck if one or two "fans" doing something stupid become the face of a city that has come so far in a few short years.
12.20.12 - After the Newtown school massacre President Obama said, “If there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation to try. The fact that this problem is complex, can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence, doesn’t mean that we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.”
To me that sounds very reasonable. If you stood in that school looking down on the 20 slaughtered babies and someone said what the President said and then someone disagreed…I think that person who disagreed would very quickly become a victim of violence. But it all has to do with the ratio of distance from the horror.
I say that because I’ve experienced a similar range of emotions in war. I know the difference between the real-time, close-up horror, the anger, the immediate thirst for revenge followed by a slow change back to just trying to survive.
I hope the President is right, but I doubt it. The tower of babel has begun, each group shouting over each other with no intention of listening to the other side. “Change over time” will push the issue to the background, just as any other mass slaughter has in the past. The war of liberals and conservatives covers all issues these days, with a proud determination from both clubs to defend their dogma…regardless of what the other side says or requests, regardless of the consequences. We are proud of gridlock in Washington and in our ultra-partisan worlds.
I watched some of the Piers Morgan show…a town hall meeting of journalists, how to manage your life gurus, and politicians, plus an audience of regular folks. It was the tower of babel. Everyone screaming at and over each other…in particular everyone with their own set of facts and statistics. I was just looking for real information to use on my show, not anti-or-pro guns, just information. There was none that I heard.
This is the image I see. 20 babies slaughtered in a room, the liberal and conservative groups walking into the distance…screaming at each other, threatening, insulting….then slowly the screaming stops and the two groups begin to go back to their clubs, but someone runs in and says “fiscal cliff”….and the hate begins all over again and the same cycle repeats…military funding debates, social programs, big government, small government, no change...b-u-t there will be at least one change guaranteed, the families of the babies lives are forever changed. They will be the few who remember what was done and what was NOT done.
I truly hope I am totally wrong. But that’s what I think. How about you?
On November 15, I was honored to broadcast from an annual event at Tulane University that has grown year after year.
James Carville and Mary Matalin started “Beyond the Ballot: A Government in Transition” four years ago. After an initial turnout of a hundred or so people the first year, the event has grown to attract more than 1,000 of the nation's top political leaders, journalists and other experts Thursday at Tulane University.
During the broadcast, James and Mary sat down with me, and our conversation turned to a top all three of us care about passionately: Coastal wetlands loss.
Click the window below to view the video of our interview. As usual, James doesn't hold back.
11.6.12 email@example.com - It’s hard to believe and admit that for decades I was not interested in politics and elections...at all…nada….zero….no interest.
Katrina changed all that. What the government does to and for us is of much interest, especially having a teenage daughter who has to live in what my generation leaves.
I am told this is one of the most important elections in our nation’s history, but for the life of me I can’t understand why. I’m thrilled to be here with our political experts, because I suspect they can explain.
Here is why I don’t see the importance of who gets elected. I call it the “two-year” syndrome. For two years Mitt Romney will tell us he would do what he promised, if Barack Obama hadn’t left him such a mess. President Obama will have just two years before he becomes a lame duck. How do problems get solved in that scenario?
And, this may be the biggest reason for my inability to see tonight’s importance…the pride, the pomposity, the ignorance of pure dogma. Democrats are proud of their beliefs…they are absolutely correct. No wait…Republicans are proud of their beliefs…they are absolutely correct. Those against abortion, gay marriage, and sex education not only know they’re right, but that those issues are even more important than paying our debts, infrastructure, and education. Those who disagree know they are right and agree that no other accomplishments are as important. How do I know? Seven years in this seat listening to members of the two clubs say they will never compromise. Seven years of listening to Senators and Congress men and Congress women who can’t go five minutes into an interview without explaining why the other side has caused gridlock.
I ask you. How is tonight so important, if we are assured of gridlock? Since the clubs think moderates are simply people with no convictions, no back bones…why would they moderate? Why would they compromise? The partisan media screamers know that moderation would evaporate their ratings, their private jets and beach mansions. The partisan politicians know their partisan states will return them to Washington regardless of how bad Congress’s record becomes.
How does a leader lead? How does a leader do great things? How does a leader motivate a nation in proud gridlock? And, what evidence do you see that gridlock is being unlocked? Perhaps I’ll see that evidence tonight and then I can join those of you who believe tonight is one of the most important moments in our and our children’s LIVES.
10.30.12 firstname.lastname@example.org - Monday on the Think Tank I was joined by Dr. Ryan Teten, Assistant Professor of the Political Science at ULL, who specializes in elections and campaigns. Dr. Teten will join me election night to offer analysis; we talked today to preview the race between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney.
However, in a race that is already razor-thin in terms of polling, Dr. Teten brought up something that floored me.
Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy could wreck serious havoc across one of the most densely-populated areas of our country. Millions may not be able to vote, and the ensuing confusion could also escalate already-simmering charges of voter fraud between the campaigns.
What happens if the whole thing gets tied up in the courts into January, or there's not a majority winner in the Electoral College, or both? Well, according to Dr. Teten, it might mean Joe Biden becomes the next President.
You read that right. Not Obama… not Romney. Biden.
"It's one of the most interesting things that's in the Constitution," Dr. Teten told me. "If there is a delay in picking the president, there is a failsafe. If no one got a majority of the Electoral College, it would go to the House of Representatives. If we don't have results by Inaugural Day (January 20, 2013,) the sitting Vice President of the United States becomes president."
So, if the matter isn't settled by January 20, Smilin' Joe becomes president.
Dr. Teten explained further: "In the Constitution, there's actually separate balloting for president and Vice President. So, what they had assumed, and what the 20th amendment speaks to, if there was some kind of dispute that wouldn't allow the President to be chosen, that the vice-president-elect (would assume the Presidency). But the problem is, because they're on the same ballot right now, we wouldn't have either one. So what happens is you default to the sitting Vice President, because they knew the President could be in the competition. And so you'd be looking at the Vice President becoming the President of the United States until the mess was sorted out.”
Here's the full text of Section 3 of the 20th Amendment:
If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
The text above says Biden would be President "until a President shall have qualified." While that would presumably be when the House of Representatives (or court system) settles on the "winner." Dr. Teten says it may not be so clear-cut.
"Nobody has ever done this before. If we go this route, it could be a serious Pandora's Box."
And, here's an even stranger twist: Could we have a Romney-Biden White House?
The scenario of Joe Biden becoming president outlined above is if there is no majority winner in the Electoral College (a tie,) which is either tied up in the courts and/or isn't resolved by the House of Representatives. The Constitution provides that if there is a tie, then the House chooses the President. (More on this at LATimes.com.)
OK, so let's assume there is a tie...and it's NOT locked up in the courts...and the GOP-controlled House does choose Romney. Who chooses the VP? Well, it's the Democrat-controlled Senate. And if they pick Biden, we'd have a Romney-Biden White House.
Tune in to Garland’s Think Tank Tuesday/today at noon. He’ll follow up with a Constitutional expert about this intriguing possibility.