The Times West Virginian

Breaking News


April 28, 2013

Should bombing suspect be treated as ‘enemy combatant’?

Anyone who has watched a cop show or two probably is familiar with a Miranda warning. Every state has variations with the exact phrasing, but it typically sounds like:

• You have the right to remain silent.

• Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.

• You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.

• If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.

• If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.

• Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?

The warning, or otherwise referred to as “Miranda rights,” is read to suspects taken into police custody so that their statements will be admissible in court. It dates back to a 1966 Supreme Court case when the high court found that failing to advise a suspect of their rights was a violation of the fifth and sixth amendments and that if a suspect is not made aware of those rights, anything said may not be used against them in court.

It does not mean that a suspect must be Mirandized. And in the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, while he was properly charged within 48 hours of being taken into police custody, he was not read his Miranda rights prior to being questioned by federal officials?

Why? There are things the American public will never know about the alleged acts of these brothers. But it’s likely that between evidence collected after the suspects were identified and surveillance footage taken at the bombing sites and the subsequent police chase in Watertown, Mass., they probably didn’t need Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to say whether or not he was responsible for the crimes to successfully prosecute him.

“First and foremost, your priority is to stop other threats and protect the public,” Michael Rosensaft, a former federal prosecutor in New York, told the Los Angeles Times. “After that, you can focus on the prosecution.”

It’s possible that federal officials wanted to know about the plot first, to determine if the threat level had been eliminated, or whether there needed to be further steps taken to protect the American public.

But though many have criticized the decision, all questioning stopped after 16 hours in detention when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arraigned by federal Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler in his hospital bed. He was then moved to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to be treated for the four bullet wounds he sustained during the police chase. It is a high-security medical detention facility.

The only way to have stopped the process of arraignment and the legal steps that had to be taken by law enforcement officials and the courts would have been to declare Dzhokhar Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant.” And would the courts look favorably on that? An American citizen committing crimes on American soil being tried as an enemy combatant? It may have set some very frightening legal precedents.

We asked our readers about this issue, the ones who log on each week to to weigh in on how suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be treated by the court system. On our online poll question, we asked “Should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev be tried as a terrorist by the federal government, which limits his legal rights, or by Massachusetts authorities?”

And here’s what you had to say.

* The crimes happened in Massachusetts and should be prosecuted as such — 5.34 percent.

* Federal charges offer the death penalty as a sentence — something that must be considered — 10.69 percent.

* He is an American citizen, not an enemy combatant, who deserves the legal rights afforded to citizens — 15.27 percent.

* This was an act of war, and he should be tried by the feds as a terrorist — 68.7 percent.

Of course, this case isn’t over. In fact, analysts say it may take years for the process to play out. So keep on reading, it’s sure to come up again.

This week, let’s talk about West Virginia’s Feed to Achieve program, which is getting some national attention. What are your thoughts on the program, which would blend private donations and federal funds to feed every child in school breakfast and lunch?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor


Text Only
  • Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives

    A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
    Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
    The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.

    April 17, 2014

  • State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary

    Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
    For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
    Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.

    April 16, 2014

  • Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better

    When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
    So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.

    April 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable

    That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
    But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
    Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!

    April 13, 2014

  • Decision to be an organ donor can save lives

    Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
    So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.

    April 11, 2014

  • Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community

    Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
    Marion County is full of volunteers.
    They read to our youth.
    They assist nonprofit agencies.
    They serve on boards and committees.
    And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.

    April 10, 2014

  • Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law

    West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.

    April 9, 2014

  • Strong Fairmont General Hospital badly needed to serve our region

    Mere minutes often matter when it comes to emergency health care.
    That’s why we need a strong Fairmont General Hospital.
    When patients need the services of health-care professionals, having family and friends close at hand is often essential, and their presence may even lead to a better outcome.

    April 6, 2014

  • COLUMN: Fairmont General Hospital vital part of community

    There’s nothing better than holding a newborn baby. It gives you a little feeling that not only is everything right in the world, but this perfect little human represents hope of a future where things will be better than they are today.
    I had that blessed opportunity to hold that hopeful future in my arms last week when I visited my dear friend Jen and her newborn son Tristan at Fairmont General Hospital.

    April 6, 2014

  • Putting a cost on safety issue has been culprit in 13 traffic deaths

    Would you believe that an item costing just 57 cents — less than the price of a can of pop — is being cited as the culprit in 13 traffic deaths?
    A simple 57-cent item.
    That’s how much fixing the fatal ignition switches that General Motors installed in new automobiles would have cost, and 13 lives would probably have been saved.

    April 4, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads