On Boston, bombs and Miranda

Monday April 29, 2013

Los Angeles Times, April 23, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen suspected of planting bombs at the Boston Marathon, was charged Monday with using a "weapon of mass destruction" against people and property, and he faces an aggressive prosecution and the possibility of the death penalty.

But that’s not good enough for Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.). Because Tsarnaev and his brother, Tamerlan, "were not common criminals . but terrorists trying to injure, maim and kill innocent Americans," the two senators would rather see Tsarnaev plucked from the judicial system, classified as an enemy combatant, deprived of a lawyer and placed in military detention.

To its credit, the Obama administration rejected the senators’ counsel. ...

The U.S. attorney in Boston said the Justice Department was invoking a "public safety exception" to the Miranda rule that in most cases requires police to advise suspects in custody of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney. Under the exception, announced in a 1984 Supreme Court decision, police may forgo reading a suspect his rights in the interests of public safety -- and if the suspect then makes an incriminating statement, it can be used at trial.

In that case, police asked a suspected rapist who had entered a supermarket where his gun was, and the suspect said it was "over there." The court allowed the use of that statement even though the suspect hadn’t been advised of his rights because police were motivated by a desire to protect shoppers and employees from being harmed by the weapon.

It would have been a legitimate use of the public safety exception in the Boston case if law enforcement officials had refrained from reading Tsarnaev his rights only for as long as it took to establish whether other bombs had been planted. ...

On Monday, a federal magistrate finally informed Tsarnaev of his rights. We hope that, in the days and hours before that intervention, his interrogators didn’t exploit his ignorance to build their case. A public safety exception so broad that it swallows the Miranda rule would be bad for the constitutional rights of all Americans. FAA furloughs
not necessary

Boston Herald, April 24, 2013

President Barack Obama and his team don’t have to worry about commercial flight delays. Maybe that helped secure the decision to begin furloughing air traffic controllers this week, leading to delays at the nation’s airports and the Democrats’ finger of blame pointed at tax-averse Republicans.

The administration claims that, because of the sequester-related budget cuts, it has no choice but to furlough all 47,000 Federal Aviation Administration employees, ordering them each to stay home one of every 10 days between now and September. That is, we are told, the only way the agency can achieve the required $500 million in cuts.

It’s nonsense, of course.

The agency has refused to consider reducing its workforce to help achieve the savings, in areas that would not directly affect air safety. Nope, not a single deputy-assistant to the deputy-assistant can be spared. Not an ounce of fat in the personnel budget.

As for sparing the 15,000 air traffic controllers the furloughs, instead imposing them solely on non-safety-related jobs, well, they’ve said no to that, too.

Meanwhile Democrats in the Senate have refused to consider legislation that would allow the administration more flexibility in imposing the sequester-related cuts. Offered an escape hatch, they’ve chosen to wallow in the inconvenience.

Because, of course, it’s all about the inconvenience. The inconvenience is what furthers the cause -- another major tax increase.

Forget the impact on the economy when business travel is stalled, airline schedules up-ended, shipments of inventory delayed or canceled, or when a family heading on a summer trip decides to avoid the hassle and stay home.

According to House Republicans, the FAA’s $10 billion operating budget has increased 110 percent since 1996, and includes $2.7 billion in non-personnel costs. By no means should these cuts cripple the commercial aviation system, but in the interest of scoring political points, they might.


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