Maddow Barely Hides Disdain Over Miranda Exception For Marathon Bombing Suspect

Not to worry, horribly misunderstood jihadist community, Rachel Maddow's got your back.

Doing her part for MSNBC's weekend coverage of the capture of marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhav Tsarnaev, Maddow appeared peeved that the Miranda warning usually extended to criminal suspects had been waived after Tsarnaev was taken into custody, the FBI justifying the waiver under a public safety exception. (Video clip after page break)

After reading the actual wording of Miranda and exhaling heavily for effect, Maddow said this --

It is not always exactly like that and in the movies the person saying it usually has a much cooler accent, but that's pretty much the idea. The idea is that your statements are only admissible in court if they come after you have been told that list of things about your rights. There is, though, a public safety exception for questions that just had to be asked of you (Maddow saying this sarcastically, waving balled fists in front of her for emphasis) urgently for a legitimate public safety need, even if those questions came before you got read the Miranda.

The Obama administration has extended the reach of that public safety exemption so it essentially can last longer (more sarcasm) to attend to the type of public safety threats that could accrue in terrorism cases. Terrorism cases, presumably they will argue, like this one. This man is not being treated as an enemy combatant. He will be on track for a federal trial, as best as we can tell, but right now he's on track to be questioned by a federal high-value detainee interrogation group and at some point he will be read his rights. He is an American citizen and he will face American justice.

Don't you love the theatrical flourish from Maddow when she describes the exemption as the legal basis for "questions that just had to be asked of you urgently for a legitimate public safety need" -- as if this could possibly be in a case like this. A person on the rational end of cognition might respond differently, seeing this case as a textbook example of the need for the exception. While Maddow wrings her hands that the accused jihadist might be deprived of beauty sleep and his Miranda warning, those involved in the investigation and not pontificating about it from a safe remove are more concerned with preventing other atrocities.

Notice also how Maddow addresses her concern about this to "you" -- as in, you, MSNBC viewer watching her show in such predominantly liberal locales as, oh, Cambridge, Mass., to cite an obvious example. The public safety exception to Miranda, she warns, can be invoked in case "you" -- MSNBC viewer -- are ever accused of being a jihadist bomber, "even if those questions came before you got read the Miranda."

In fairness to MSNBC viewers, I doubt that most of them and a majority of the network's former primetime hosts are at risk of becoming jihadist bombers. I am equal confident, however, that many MSNBC viewers have adorned a bumper on their vehicle with a "Co-exist" bumper sticker -- like the one placed on the Mercedes allegedly carjacked by the Tsarnaev brothers.

Maybe the brothers saw the sticker, maybe they didn't, but I hope this detail gets pinned down at Tsarnaev's trial, regardless of where it's held. The owner of the vehicle was sending a message with that sticker, along the lines of -- let's all get along, shall we? That's not how the sticker would be interpreted by predators like the Tsarnaevs. Their reading of it would be this -- unarmed driver who won't put up a fight.

Residents of the vastly diverse and solidly liberal enclave of Cambridge would be much safer affixing NRA stickers to their bumpers -- but they'd rather risk their lives than the opprobrium that would follow such extremism.

Jack Coleman
Jack Coleman
Ex-liberal from People's Republic of Massachusetts