Gingrich says it's "unimaginable" to Mirandize suspects in Afghanistan, but Bush reportedly did so

››› ››› TOM ALLISON

Discussing a Weekly Standard article, Newt Gingrich said that reading Miranda rights to detainees in Afghanistan is "unimaginable." But the author of the article reported that the FBI also Mirandized people at "specific bases" during the Bush administration.

On the June 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich characterized "[t]he idea that we pick up, in a war zone, a terrorist" and read them Miranda rights as "unimaginable. It's worse than anything Jimmy Carter ever did. It's worse than anything that President Bill Clinton ever did." Gingrich made the comment while discussing a June 10 Weekly Standard article reporting the claim of Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) that "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." However, neither Gingrich nor host Sean Hannity noted that hours earlier on Fox News, the author of The Weekly Standard report, senior writer Steve Hayes, reported that the FBI also Mirandized people at "specific bases" during the Bush administration.

On the June 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report, Hayes stated: "Well, it's interesting that back in the campaign, if you remember, this was a punch line for Republicans. You know, Barack Obama would like to read detainees their Miranda rights. And now we find out that this is, in fact, happening." Hayes then added: "There are reports that this was happening on specific bases as going back as early as July 2008. But what Mike Rogers seems to be saying is that this is happening on a more consistent basis, and that the FBI and the Justice Department don't want to talk about it."

Additionally, on Special Report, Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported that "[t]he Justice Department saying tonight that detainees at Bagram have been Mirandized in the past." Griffin also stated that Justice Department Dean Boyd stated that "[t]here has been no policy change nor blanket instruction issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas" and that "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."

From the June 10 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: You know, the Obama administration terrorist relocation program, because the first Gitmo detainee is now on U.S. shores.

But The Weekly Standard is reporting tonight that the Obama Justice Department -- and now we're gonna show tape of Obama saying he'd never do this, that's coming up a little bit later on the show -- that he quietly ordered FBI agents to read Miranda rights to high-value detainees captured or held at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan, according to Mike Rogers.

GINGRICH: This is -- Congressman Rogers on the Intelligence Committee was in Afghanistan. This report in The Weekly Standard is unimaginable. It's worse than anything Jimmy Carter ever did. It's worse than anything that President Bill Clinton ever did.

The idea that we pick up, in a war zone, a terrorist, and the first thing we do is say to them, "We want to make sure you understand your rights. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney."

First of all, that's just not true. They are not American citizens. They are not in the American criminal justice system. These are enemy agents in a war. I think this is -- we have got to recognize these folks are going to get a lot of people killed if we continue down this road of crippling our intelligence capability, crippling our military capability, crippling our FBI, and pretending that terrorists are Americans.

HANNITY: Well, it's frightening on a scale that I never thought possible in America.

From the June 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

GRIFFIN: Bret, Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd has just issued a statement saying that there has been no policy change. I'll quote: "There has been no policy change nor blanket instruction issued for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas." But he adds, "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, Bret. The Justice Department saying tonight that detainees at Bagram have been Mirandized in the past -- Bret.

[...]

[begin video clip]

ROGERS: It's already in the field. I have witnessed it myself, talked to the people on the ground. It's obviously there. We have talked to the FBI. They said, yes, we're trying to rule this out.

I don't think it's, as I said, well thought through. We think this is a DOJ initiative. But it hasn't been well advertised, it hasn't been well talked about. And, certainly, I'm not sure it was all that well coordinated amongst all the agencies.

ROBERT GIBBS (White House press secretary): I have no reason to disbelieve a member of Congress, but I don't know any of the circumstances that are involved around it.

REPORTER: Would it come as a surprise to the White House if that's what would be happening?

GIBBS: It's not a surprise to me.

[end video clip]

BAIER: What are they talking about? Senior House Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Rogers from Michigan -- he is also a former special agent for the FBI -- just returned from Afghanistan and said that suspected terrorists at the detainee facility in Bagram were being read their Miranda rights by FBI agents there.

Let's bring in our panel on this. Steve Hayes, senior writer for The Weekly Standard; Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio; and Jeff Birnbaum, managing editor digital of The Washington Times.

Steve, you broke this story on The Weekly Standard. I should point out the DOJ released a statement -- Department of Justice -- saying, "There has been no policy change 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 at other institutions or situations in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees."

What about all of this?

HAYES: Well, it's interesting that back in the campaign, if you remember, this was a punch line for Republicans. You know, Barack Obama would like to read detainees their Miranda rights. And now we find out that this is, in fact, happening.

There are reports that this was happening on specific bases as going back as early as July 2008. But what Mike Rogers seems to be saying is that this is happening on a more consistent basis, and that the FBI and the Justice Department don't want to talk about it.

They are not eager to have this become a public issue, because I think, you know, largely, the American public is not going to be in agreement that detainees, especially detainees overseas, should be read Miranda rights -- you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to a lawyer. The government will provide one for you if you can't afford one, what have you.

So, what I think we're seeing now is confusion, as Mike Rogers says. Nobody knows what's going on. The CIA apparently did not know how often this was happening or that it was happening at all. Really very few people know a lot of the details of this. Mike Rogers is somebody who seems to.

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