The big question emerging from Attorney General Eric Holder's hearing Wednesday was whether we could be sure Khalid Shaikh Mohammed will be convicted. But a smaller question posed by Sen. Lindsey Graham has picked up traction among bloggers, particularly conservatives. Graham asked, "If we captured bin Laden tomorrow, would he be entitled to
Miranda warnings at the moment of capture?" Holder, caught off
guard, fumblingly said it "depends." Here's the exchange as reported by NPR:
SEN. GRAHAM: If we captured bin Laden tomorrow, would he be entitled to Miranda warnings at the moment of capture?
ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Again I'm not -- that all depends. I mean, the notion that we --
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, it does not depend. If you're going to prosecute anybody in civilian court, our law is clear that the moment custodial interrogation occurs the defendant, the criminal defendant, is entitled to a lawyer and to be informed of their right to remain silent.
The big problem I have is that you're criminalizing the war, that if we caught bin Laden tomorrow, we'd have mixed theories and we couldn't turn him over -- to the CIA, the FBI or military intelligence -- for an interrogation on the battlefield, because now we're saying that he is subject to criminal court in the United States. And you're confusing the people fighting this war.
What would you tell the military commander who captured him? Would you tell him, "You must read him his rights and give him a lawyer"? And if you didn't tell him that, would you jeopardize the prosecution in a federal court?
ATTY GEN. HOLDER: We have captured thousands of people on the battlefield, only a few of which have actually been given their Miranda warnings. With regard to bin Laden and the desire or the need for statements from him, the case against him at this point is so overwhelming that we do not need to.