For the first time since the Justice Department relaxed the requirements in December on when federal law enforcement have to inform terrorism suspects of their Miranda rights, a reporter has seen a copy of the guidance issued by Attorney General Eric Holder and reports it gives FBI agents more latitude and flexibility in delaying informing suspects of their right to remain silent.
Evan Perez of the Wall Street Journal got a look at the memo and reports that interrogators can more easily avoid reading suspects their Miranda rights in “exceptional cases” where they “conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat.” Prior approval is needed from FBI supervisors and Justice Department lawyers, according to the report.
The memo was issued after a proposal first floated last year by Holder on NBC’s Meet the Press to reform Miranda through the legislative process stalled in Congress. As Justin Elliott reported, the Obama administration applied an old exception to the Miranda rule in a new way so they could interrogate suspects without letting them know about their right to remain silent.
Perez writes that the Miranda change “leaves other key procedures in place, notably federal rules for speedy presentation of suspects before a magistrate, normally within 24 hours.” Writes Perez:
Legal experts say those restrictions are bigger obstacles than Miranda to intelligence gathering. The FBI memo doesn’t make clear whether investigators seeking exemptions would have to provide a Miranda warning at the time of such a hearing.
Also unchanged is the fact that any statements suspects give during such pre-Miranda questioning wouldn’t be admissible in court, the memo says.