Over at the Washington Independent, Spencer Ackerman's been diligently live-blogging General David Petraeus' keynote address to the third annual Center for a New American Security conference. You should go read it! But here's something that jumps out:
9:55. A Fox News reporter asks about a Weekly Standard report that detainees were getting read Miranda rights. Petraeus says he has "No concerns at all. This is the FBI doing what the FBI does. ... The real rumor yesterday is whether our forces were reading Miranda rights to detainees and the answer to that is no." Sorry, Steve Hayes.
This is apparently a thing! Stephen Hayes heard that the Obama administration might be Mirandizing terror suspects and straight up got the vapors, because sage genius George Tenet said that Mirandizing terrorists would be a bad idea in his memoirs!
If Tenet is right, it's a good thing KSM was captured before Barack Obama became president. For, the Obama Justice Department has quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high value detainees captured and held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according a senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. "The administration has decided to change the focus to law enforcement. Here's the problem. You have foreign fighters who are targeting US troops today -- foreign fighters who go to another country to kill Americans. We capture them...and they're reading them their rights -- Mirandizing these foreign fighters," says Representative Mike Rogers, who recently met with military, intelligence and law enforcement officials on a fact-finding trip to Afghanistan.
Shorter Stephen Hayes: Oh my stars and garters! Surely no one is attempting to use this wussy-ass law enforcement stuff in the war on terror! We are winning the war with military force. IS HAMMER! EVERYTHING IS NAIL! NAIL!!!@11!!
Oh, but guess what? As it turns out, it wasn't Obama who started Mirandizing terror detainees:
This "scandalous" policy actually began during the Bush administration. One of the worst mistakes the Bush administration made was paying absolutely no attention in the early days to building cases against the people it detained. Evidence was improperly collected or not collected at all. Statements were elicited through torture and other coercive means. So when the Bush administration later decided that it wanted to try its high-value detainees, it had virtually no evidence to work with.
So to build cases for trial, the Bush administration sent in FBI "clean teams" to re-interrogate suspects without reference to prior statements. Here's what the Washington Post reported on February 12, 2008:
The Bush administration announced yesterday that it intends to bring capital murder charges against half a dozen men allegedly linked to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, based partly on information the men disclosed to FBI and military questioners without the use of coercive interrogation tactics....
FBI and military interrogators who began work with the suspects in late 2006 called themselves the "Clean Team" and set as their goal the collection of virtually the same information the CIA had obtained from five of the six through duress at secret prisons.
To ensure that the data would not be tainted by allegations of torture or illegal coercion, the FBI and military team won the suspects' trust over the past 16 months by using time-tested rapport-building techniques, the officials said....
Officials said most of the detainees talked to FBI and military interrogators, some for days, others for months, while one or two rebuffed them. The men were read rights similar to a standard U.S. Miranda warning, and officials designed the program to get to the information the CIA already had gleaned by using waterboarding, which simulates drowning, and other techniques such as sleep deprivation, forced standing and the use of extreme temperatures.
And Greg Sargent got the following statement from the Justice Department:
"There has been no policy change and nor blanket instruction issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas. While there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas, at both Bagram and in other situations, in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees."
So there you have it. No, American troops are not walking around Afghanistan reading Miranda rights to people. It's the FBI's doing, in appropriate instances, following a policy change made by the Bush administration, which Obama has not changed. There's no reason to panic, the end.