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Terrorists and Whether They Deserve Miranda Rights

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“We must not consider these attacks on our homeland in isolation, but rather recognize them for what they are: acts of war” (McCain). Terrorism in the United States is a real issue, it is no longer something far off in another country. It is a first world problem that the United States need to prepare for accordingly, and something its citizens need to acknowledge and consider while voting. It is an act of war (McCain), yet it is currently not treated as such. Terrorists currently do not receive the rights of war criminals, but rather are tried in standard practice, like every small-time thug on the streets. One of the biggest differences among the two is that the latter receives Miranda Rights. The Miranda Rights that cited to those when they are arrested are: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and to have a lawyer present with you during questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you” (“Miranda Rights”). Terrorists should not receive Miranda Rights for the following reasons: terrorists often have dangerous and time-sensitive information; anything terrorists say before being read their Miranda Rights is inadmissible in court; the rights in and of themselves are not directly constitutional.

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First, anything a terrorist says before being cited his/her Miranda Rights is inadmissible in court (Editorial). This means that if a terrorist gives any verbal confession before cited the Miranda Rights, it is utterly and completely unusable in court. In many active terrorist situations, time is of the absolute essence. Sometimes, even the seconds it takes to read the Miranda Rights could take seconds needed for authorities to obtain the information regarding an active threat. If the authorities priorities are to make sure that whatever a suspect says in usable in a trial against them, it could differ the jury’s decision whether one is guilty or not.

Moreover, Miranda Rights are not directly constitutional. There is no “Miranda Right Amendment” to be found in the United States Constitution. The right to not self-incriminate and the right to a lawyer are both amendments in the constitution (“The Constitution”), but they are not exactly the Miranda Rights. The most deceivingly similar among the two are the right to not self-incriminate and the right to remain silent. The right to remain silent means that no matter what, one does not have to talk until one consults with a lawyer (Editorial). Giving terrorists the right to remain silent means potentially holding off on information that could cost lives.

Finally, terrorists are dangerous individuals, sometimes even while in custody. What if a bomb went off? Would the authorities be able to arrest the man responsible for its detonation? The suspect claims that there is another bomb in position to detonate within the hour, but he/she demands a lawyer before any further information is to be revealed regarding it. Is this a privilege the authorities can afford in a situation like this? Should they be able to have the luxury of consulting a lawyer to make sure that they can get the best court trial results? No. Authorities should have the right to demand whatever information they need from them whether they have a lawyer present or not. This may seem like some kind of crazy third world problem, but in 2017 alone, there were ten total terrorist attacks throughout the world, many of which were in modern countries including the United States (Singman). In terrorism situations, authorities are more concerned about having guaranteed neutralizing the threat than gathering sufficient evidence for a court trial.

Some may argue that not giving anyone in custody Miranda Rights is unconstitutional, that all peoples held by authorities should be held to the same standard. The Miranda Rights are a relatively new idea, with the supreme court trial occurring just 52 years ago in 1966 (Editorial). The Constitution and its Amendments are much older than the Miranda Rights, which were written in 1787 making them 179 years older than the Miranda Rights (“The Constitution”). The Miranda Rights are absolutely no part of the Constitution. Prior to the Supreme Court case in 1966, Miranda Rights were not something considered when anyone, let alone war criminals, were arrested.

All this supports the idea of a United States where terrorists are treated as what they are: war criminals. Every syllable they utter before being read their Miranda Rights, is completely inadmissible in court. This may not seem like a huge deal immediately, but this costs both time and evidence that can be presented in court. Miranda Rights are not directly constitutional. There is no amendment in our constitution that gives war criminals the rights to remain silent and consult a lawyer. Terrorism is more than a petty crime, it is an act of war, and it deserves to be treated as such. Terrorists are dangerous individuals, often possessing intelectual information that could impact dozens, or even hundreds of innocent lives. It is simply dangerous and unlogical to give Miranda Rights to such dangerous individuals due to the reasons stated. 

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