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You Have the Right to STFU

Watch out—I feel a big ol’ rant coming on. Republicans have been making the argument that the biggest problem with the way we go about dealing with alleged terrorists is that we read them their Miranda rights, and the so-called journalists who interview them are treating this as though it’s a legitimate concern. That leaves it to obscure bloggers like me to point out how mind-bogglingly retarded that claim is (sorry, Sarah) and call them out on what they really mean.

The argument is obscenely simple, which is necessary for the peanut-sized brains of their Tea Party constituents to understand it. When the authorities read a suspect his rights, they tell him he has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. Presumably, any suspect in his right mind would immediately decide to take advantage of those rights and refuse to give up any information until they get a lawyer. Thus giving ample time for any of their terrorists friends who may have been involved in their sinister plot to escape, or possibly detonate another bomb that the authorities don’t know about.

Is that logical? Sure. But if you think about it for more than two seconds, you can see what utter bullshit it is.

First of all, so far these guys have only built one bomb at a time, and they haven’t seemed to be doing a very good job of it. Second of all, they seem to be acting alone except for some training and/or financial support from terrorist groups abroad. But even if there were other bombs or other people involved, reading a suspect his Miranda rights does not decrease the likelihood of the suspect talking.

Why? Because there’s a fucking difference between reading someone his rights and giving someone his rights. These sons of bitches have the right to remain silent whether you tell them or not. And honestly, do you really think any of these assholes actually don’t know what rights they have under American law? All they have to do is watch one episode of Law & Order or any other crime show on television, or watch just one action movie, and they’ll know. It’s not some big secret. And anyone who takes months to plot and plan to commit a crime in the United States probably knows what his rights will be if he gets caught. Just because they might be Arab doesn’t mean they can’t understand English.

Furthermore, the police have ways of getting people to talk in spite of their right to an attorney. All they have to do is explain to the guy: “Look, we caught you red-handed. You are going to be convicted, and you’re going to be executed. The only chance you have of being shown any leniency at all is to tell us everything you know. Cooperate now and we may show you some mercy later on.” Stunningly enough, this has seemed to work so far. It worked with the Underpants Bomber and it worked with the Times Square bomber, both of whom have given up very valuable information even after being told—as they already fucking knew—that they could remain silent if they chose to.

When I heard Attorney General Eric Holder say that they were going to consider the possibility of no longer Mirandizing terrorism suspects, my head nearly exploded. What the fuck, Obama? Is there no republican talking point, no matter how insane or ridiculous, that you won’t kowtow to if they shout loud enough? Seriously—has this country ever had a more pussy-ass administration? It actually makes me respect Dick fucking Cheney, who never gave a shit what the other side was saying. He may have done the wrong thing 100% of the time but he just went ahead and did it, criticism be damned. Here you have an administration that has actually gone and legitimized the right-wing’s brain-dead moronic cries of Miranda putting our national security in jeopardy, even though they could destroy this argument with one two-minute statement.

Of course, what republicans really want is not just to stop reading suspects their rights but to actually deny them these rights in the first place. We’ve now got Joe the cold-blooded murderer Lieberman introducing legislation that would strip alleged terrorists of their American citizenship. Great idea, Joe. Let’s just revoke someone’s citizenship if they’re accused of terrorism before we actually have a trial to determine if they actually are terrorists. You know, I could probably get enough people—mostly unhealthy Americans between the age of 55 and 65—to bring a terrorism case against you. It may be groundless, but it would be enough to strip you of your citizenship if your disgustingly un-American legislation actually passed.

But it’s completely pointless anyway, as the right to remain silent is not exclusively for American citizens in the first place. If a British citizen commits a crime in the United States, he gets the Miranda rights too! Why? Because this is America, asshole, and that’s how we roll. We have a system of justice based on principles of fairness and due process. You are innocent until proven guilty, no matter what nationality you are. If we want to grant these rights exclusively to ourselves, we’d be the biggest nation of hypocrites on the face of the earth.

Why don’t Joe and the republicans just come out and say what they really mean? It’s not about Miranda rights at all. What they really think is that we should be torturing the shit out of these people, wringing every last bit of information from them as we possibly can before allowing them to lawyer up. Why won’t they say that? I honestly have no idea. Apparently they think that might be going too far. Don’t worry, republicans, after eight years of Bush’s war on terror and eight seasons of 24, you’d be surprised at the percentage of Americans who believe that torturing suspects is a great idea.

And if you want to make the argument that we ought to use torture to get information from terrorists, then by all means have at it. I’ve already ripped this argument to shreds as well, but at least it makes more sense than the brain-dead proposition that reading a terrorist his Miranda rights makes us less safe.

Look republicans, I understand it’s your job to find fault with everything the administration does, but in cases where it’s clear that they’re actually doing a good job—as in catching and extracting information from terrorists—you may just want to hold your tongue until they actually make a mistake. This is America, guys, and you have the right to shut the fuck up. I suggest you use it.

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