Former Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Friday that he had a very straightforward policy on when and whether to read Miranda Rights to people captured by the FBI and suspected of terrorism.
"When you have a person in the criminal justice system, you Mirandize them," Ashcroft said flatly, when asked by HuffPost about the reading-of-rights that has conservatives outraged at the Obama administration.
Federal agents read the Christmas Day bomber his Miranda Rights after he was taken into custody. That such a straight forward statement from Ashcroft, who now sounds like a voice of reason, is at odds with his party's loudest critics indicates just how far the political conversation has drifted in the past several years.
Conservative speakers at CPAC and elsewhere have been hammering the administration for attempting to try terrorism suspects in the United States using criminal courts. Ashcroft declined to join them with regard to 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"I'm not privy to all the facts," he said of KSM, who was captured while Ashcroft was Attorney General. "I think, look, you adjudicate different kinds of charges in criminal court than you do in military commissions. Military Commissions adjudicate non-citizen violations of the laws of war. Criminal courts adjudicate violations of the titles of the criminal code in the criminal law of the United States. And the kind of publicity and exposure and transparency of one poses certain kinds of challenges in terms of the maintenance of the integrity of intelligence and the like that others don't."
Earlier Friday, Ashcroft told HuffPost that criminal courts can have "use and utility," but whether to try a particular terrorism suspect criminally should be decided on a case by case basis.