Ex-agent questions Mueller's silence on Miranda
Joe Navarro, a retired FBI agent who has interrogated scores of spies and terrorists, says Miranda rights don't inhibit the questioning of suspects, and he wants FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to stand up and say so.
Longtime pressure to change the statute appeared to gain new momentum after the Times Square bomb incident, when Attorney General Eric Holder said the law could benefit by being made more “flexible.”
But Navarro says the law -- which requires suspects be informed they have a right to silence and a lawyer -- works fine as it is.
“In 25 years working as an FBI agent, I found that the Miranda decision did not interfere with me in either obtaining usable information or making prosecutable cases,” Navarro wrote in an opinion piece in the weekend Tampa Tribune.
“Miranda doesn't interfere with making cases,” he added. “Incompetent investigators do.”
Navarro is also the author of "Hunting Terrorists: A Look At the Psychopathology of Terror."
The Miranda law “is not to be trifled with by newscasters, the well-meaning but ignorant, or by politicians, especially those running for office,” he wrote.
In 2008, Navarro joined with other former FBI and CIA interrogators to denounce the use of waterboarding and other so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which they called ineffective, counterproductive and unethical.
Now he’s trying to shame Mueller into declaring what the director has only suggested to date, in the case of the alleged Detroit airline bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab: The FBI can make cases without “modernizing, clarifying [or] making more flexible the use of the public safety exception” in the Miranda law, as Holder suggested.
“It is unfortunate that the current head of the FBI has refused to step forward and say, ‘This is the law, and FBI agents will abide by it, end of story. We can do our job with Miranda,’ ” Navarro wrote.
“Sadly, few people in government have risen up to set the record straight and demand respect for the law.”
No direct defense of the Miranda law by Mueller could be found in news accounts or in his speeches and testimony, posted on the FBI’s Web site.
An FBI spokesman said he didn’t think Mueller had made any.
UPDATE: The American Civil Liberties Union and about three dozen human rights and antiwar organizations sent a letter to Attorney General Holder Monday urging him to leave the Miranda rule untouched.
"In the nearly nine years since the attacks of 9/11, the Department of Justice has obtained convictions in more than 400 international terrorism or terrorism-related cases without weakening Miranda or risking the safety of Americans," the ACLU letter said. "The ‘public safety exception’ is exception enough."
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