“No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” Those are the words of the Fifth Amendment. It says nothing about a “public safety” exception. And what the government can do to the most serious offenders, it can do to you or me too.
Justice demands that the suspect be read his rights, and have access to counsel, from the beginning of custodial interrogation.
As Emily Bazelon in Slate points out
[The] FBI will surely ask 19-year-old Tsarnaev anything it sees fit. Not just what law enforcement needs to know to prevent a terrorist threat and keep the public safe but anything else it deemed related to “valuable and timely intelligence.” Couldn’t that be just about anything about Tsarnaev’s life, or his family, given that his alleged accomplice was his older brother (killed in a shootout with police)? There won’t be a public uproar. Whatever the FBI learns will be secret: We won’t know how far the interrogation went. And besides, no one is crying over the rights of the young man who is accused of killing innocent people, helping his brother set off bombs that were loaded to maim, and terrorizing Boston Thursday night and Friday. But the next time you read about an abusive interrogation, or a wrongful conviction that resulted from a false confession, think about why we have Miranda in the first place. It’s to stop law enforcement authorities from committing abuses. Because when they can make their own rules, sometime, somewhere, they inevitably will.
Let’s repeat that last part. WHY do we have Miranda? It’s to stop law enforcement authorities from committing abuses. Because when they can make their own rules, sometime, somewhere, they inevitably will.