CNN's Piers Morgan absurdly claimed on Thursday that "senators and congressmen" want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev "tortured" and the "interrogation lasting for months." The only prominent call for torture came from one New York state senator who had argued his case on Morgan's show on Monday.
"So when you hear these senators and congressmen leaping up and down saying we want to have him tortured and we want to have the interrogation lasting for months, you're straying into Guantanamo Bay territory for somebody who is an American citizen," Morgan said of Tsarnaev. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
Aside from the lone New York state senator advocating for torture, several Republican U.S. senators have called for Tsarnaev to be treated as an enemy combatant. That was in response to him being read his Miranda rights by authorities, when the senators argued for him to be further interrogated to gather national security intelligence.
However, Morgan was clearly exaggerating their position by framing it as "we want to have the interrogation lasting for months" and claiming it strayed into "Guantanamo Bay territory."
The senators' statement argued that "A decision to not read Miranda rights to the suspect was sound and in our national security interests," but added the following:
"However, we have concerns that limiting this investigation to 48 hours and exclusively relying on the public safety exception to Miranda, could very well be a national security mistake. It could severely limit our ability to gather critical information about future attacks from this suspect."
Nowhere is the desire made manifest that Tsarnaev be interrogated for "months." The statements asks for more time to gather arguably vital intelligence about possible terror plots. Morgan framed their argument as outlandish when it in fact is a valid national security concern.
Below is a transcript of the segment, which aired on Piers Morgan Live on April 25 at 9:29 p.m. EDT:
PIERS MORGAN: John, so many twists and turns to this. Let's get into when Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is taken to a hospital and his life has been saved, he's not dead, so he can be interrogated. The FBI get in there, and they start interrogating him. But after 16 hours and plenty of information coming out, they suddenly have to stop because the magistrate turns up and he's read his Miranda rights.
Was that done too soon? Or was there a duty of care, if you like, to an American citizen, as Dzhokhar is, to give him his Miranda rights at that time?
JOHN MILLER, CBS This Morning: Well, I think you framed the argument there. Now, who's doing the interrogation at the hospital? It's the HVDIG. That's the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group. These are specialists. This is what they do. You have cases where you have caught Somali al Qaeda operatives at sea, they have been transported by Navy SEALS to a U.S. destroyer where the HVDIG has been waiting and they've questioned them and unraveled terrorist groups and plots from Somalia to Kenya.
But we're not out at sea and we're not on a battleship. This is in the city of Boston, in the United States of America, under the rubric of the criminal justice system. And what you have there is you've got the HVDIG is questioning him in the hospital, but there's also a United States attorney, the federal prosecutor, and there is also a U.S. magistrate, which represents the court. And in the American system, within usually one business day of your arrest, you are supposed to be brought before a magistrate and arraigned.
And at that point, the court is saying to the U.S. attorney, you've got an arrest, he's in custody, he's not free to go, so we either have to charge him or do something, we're going to have to arraign him on that charge. They charged him on Monday and they came into the arraignment. Now I think if you go to the interrogators, they would have said we'd love to interrogate him for another month. But there is the Constitution. There are laws. There's a criminal justice system –
MORGAN: Right. And you have to remember this guy, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, unlike his older brother, who's dead, he's an American citizen, living in America, and committed a crime in America. So when you hear these senators and congressmen leaping up and down saying we want to have him tortured and we want to have the interrogation lasting for months, you're straying into Guantanamo Bay territory for somebody who is an American citizen.
MILLER: This is the conundrum, which is, this is a political debate. There's a bunch of people on one side who say he should have been an enemy combatant and taken to Gitmo, and we wouldn't have to worry about the niceties of the Constitution. Then you have got other people saying, it's a criminal act in the United States, we have a system for this. But let's skip the politics of it, because I don't have an opinion. I'm a journalist and the politics don't matter to me.
But if you get down to the practical mechanics, you say Guantanamo Bay, the military justice system, enemy combatants, they have been at it 10 years. They have tried four cases. Two have been reversed. And one that I testified in under oath, that guy is sitting home in Yemen sipping tea right now. And he was bin Laden's bodyguard during the planning of 9/11.
Switch over to the other side. The U.S. federal courts, criminal justice system, has tried and dealt with over 500 terrorism cases since 9/11. So you can argue about which system fits into your political box, but from a strictly mechanical sense, one system has a depth of experience and is working, and the other system is struggling to figure out how it could work, if it ever did. That's kind of what it is.