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The Public Safety Exception

We’re hearing a lot of talk lately about the so-called public safety
exception. And it should come as no surprise to us that, once again, the
federal government wants to interpret (i.e., distort the meaning of) the law
in its favor.

In the name of the (unending) Global War on Terror, of course.

It seems that the Obama administration now wants to be able to arrest


and detain U. S. citizens suspected in acts of terrorism without first
reading them their Miranda rights and without producing them in court,
promptly, for arraignment.

Once again, our rights are disappearing. But I suppose that most
Americans look at it this way: “Hey, if you’re not doing anything wrong,
then you don’t have anything to worry about do you? . . . Can you please
stop bothering me? I’m trying to watch the game . . .”
The so-called public exception clause to Miranda v. Arizona, the case
which gave us the protection of being informed of our rights upon our
being arrested, comes from the U. S. Supreme Court case of New York v.
Quarles), in which the court stated that, in certain circumstances, in which
public safety is a concern, evidence that is obtained by police officers
before the suspect is read his Miranda rights can be allowed as evidence at
the suspect’s trial. In particular, the evidence that was obtained, in this
case, was a gun; a suspect with an empty shoulder holster having been
asked by police “Where is the gun?” This is somewhat reasonable, because
the police officer was concerned with his own safety at that moment. Once
the suspect told police where the gun was, he was arrested and read his
Miranda rights. The gun was allowed as evidence in court.

Perhaps, technically, the gun should not have been allowed as evidence.
But then people who commit crimes should know not to tell the police
anything, especially the location of the evidence of their crimes.

This public safety exception to Miranda allows only for a very small
window of time before the suspect is read his rights, and not the indefinite
window of time the Obama administration is now seeking.

Once again, the federal government is seeking new ways to rid us of our
rights. No doubt the public exception will now be expanded, in the name of
the (unending) Global War on Terror, to include an indefinite amount of
time between the time of a suspect’s arrest and their arraignment before a
judge in order to allow sufficient time for interrogation and interrogation
methods.

But this was precisely what Miranda v. Arizona is supposed to prevent:


a suspect being interrogated without being told first that they have the
right to remain silent, that anything they say can and will be used against
them in court, that they have the right to an attorney to be present before
questioning, and that if they cannot afford an attorney one will be
appointed for them.

In short, the federal government now wants to get rid of these rights.

But hey, the Obama administration has already decided that it can
assassinate U. S. citizens anyway. So who cares, right?

“Please be quiet . . . I’m trying to watch the game . . .”


Perhaps you don’t fear being arrested, or what may happen to you if you
are. But you should.

It’s not always “the bad guys” who get arrested you know. Sometimes
innocent people get arrested too.

These days, the bad guys are being defined rather nebulously as “terror
suspects”. But what do those words mean anyway? Terror? Suspects?

In America, suspects have rights. And terror can, eventually, be


defined-down to fit practically anyone (e.g., political activists, dissidents,
agitators, reporters, journalists, sympathizers, printers, bloggers).

Perhaps even a fourteen year old autistic kid who draws a picture of a
gun.

Governments always begin by first removing these rights from those of


whom we might not approve (Jews, communists, criminals, terrorists), but
we will, eventually, find that everyone has lost their rights. Which is why
we should be concerned about terror suspects losing theirs. If they do,
then we’ve really lost ours.