‘Disgraceful’ decision to end Boston suspect’s interrogation, GOP lawmaker says
April 28th, 2013
03:27 PM ET
10 years ago

‘Disgraceful’ decision to end Boston suspect’s interrogation, GOP lawmaker says

(CNN) - The decision to read Miranda rights to Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in the midst of an interrogation was called “disgraceful” Sunday by a leading Republican, who took aim at U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for not opposing the decision.

U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-New York, told CNN he “totally disagreed” with the decision of a magistrate judge to administer the rights during a hearing last Monday, more than two days after Tsarnaev was captured in Watertown, Massachusetts. On Saturday, Holder told CNN the move was “totally consistent” and appropriate.

“This was not required by American law,” King said. “The fact is the FBI was only 16 hours into an interrogation. They had already gotten some significant information, but much more was still not there. Who else was involved? What was his mother's role? Did his father have any role? Where did the radicalization start? How did it start? Are there any other conspirators out there? Who was part of it? Who assisted him in any way?”

When he was first captured, Tsarnaev wasn’t immediately read his Miranda warnings, which advise criminal suspects of their constitutional rights of remaining silent, access to an attorney regardless of financial circumstances, and the warning that any statements can be used to aid their prosecution.

The government was able to delay the reading by using the “public safety” exception, which allows for limited questioning by law enforcement of a suspect to determine if there as imminent danger to the public of attack.

The weekend interrogation period from Saturday evening into Monday morning was 16 hours, but questioning was off and on because of the suspect's medical condition, according to a government source.

Since being read his rights, which came the day after charges were formally filed against him, Tsarnaev has not answered "substantive" questions from investigators about his alleged operational role in the attack, sources have indicated.

King said the silence following the reading of the Miranda rights was a major problem.

“It is the matter of life and death. I don't know of any case law which says that magistrate has a right to come in to a hospital room and stop an interrogation,” King said. “And I don't know why the attorney general of the United States consented to that.”

When asked about the timing of the Miranda rights, Holder told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on Saturday night that the decision, made by the magistrate, was “totally consistent with the laws that we have.”

"We have a two-day period to question him under the 'public safety' exception. So I think everything was done appropriately, and we got good leads,” he said.

Holder has been asked to explain the decision to allow a magistrate judge into the hospital room by Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

"Specifically, I would like more information as to who determined that the proceedings would occur at that specific time and place while questioning was still ongoing," Rogers wrote in a letter dated April 24.

On Sunday, another Republican, Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana, argued the public safety exception should have been prolonged to gather more information from the suspect.

"I was very surprised that they moved as quickly as they did," Coats, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union.” "We had, I think, legal reasons and follow-up investigative reasons to drag this out a little bit longer. We could have done that."

CNN’s Bill Mears, Nunu Japaridze and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Boston Marathon bombing • Peter King
soundoff (60 Responses)
  1. Thomas


    Perhaps the clock starts at the time of arrest and not the time of the start of an individual interrogation. I don't think the intent is to allow each LE organization 48 hours.

    April 29, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  2. keven

    Amazing. Republicans would have us stoop to scum level of terrorists. WE ARE BETTER THAN THEY ARE !!!
    We can protect ourselves and still be AMERICANS !
    Don't let fear mongering Republicans scare us into denying our values and humanity

    April 29, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  3. Garrett

    The law, which is highly questionable in a constitutional sense to begin with, is meant for law enforcement to find out specific information regarding immediate threats. Are there other bombs? Are any of your associates planning any further attacks? How he became radicalized, while certainly of interest, does qualify as information regarding immidiate threats. In this case, it seems there is little reason to believe that these acts were perpetrated by anyone other than the brothers. There is no further basis to interrogate him under the Public Safety exception, any more than it would be ok to interrogate a man suspected of shooting someone without due process, because you want to find out why he did it, who sold him the gun, and whether or not he's a member of the NRA.

    We are increasingly passing these laws that try and create workarounds to that pesky constitution of ours and then using them to claim that our methods are "legal." The entire reason for the fifth ammendment was to keep ourselves and our government in check, especially when emotions are high and our security threatened, not accepting those times.

    I believe it was Benjamin Franklin who sais, "those who are willing to sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither." If we allow our fear and anger to supercede our desire for justice, decnency, and fair treatment under the law, then we have failed as a people and failed as a nation.

    April 29, 2013 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  4. Tom

    When does the 48 hours start? From when he is arrested, or when questioning begins? If he was taken into custody Friday night, and that's when the clock starts, the 48 hours had already expired by Moday morning.

    April 29, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  5. Chris in Texas

    It does not give them a total of 48 "under the lights", but 48 from the time of arrest.

    April 29, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  6. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So what would you do, Pete? Waterboard the guy? Use a cattle prod on him? Beat him until he talks? Those and other "enhanced interrogation" methods do nothing to get additional information from anyone that was of any use. You want to use the same extra-legal techniques the Regulars used against your IRA buds? That didn't work either, did it?
    How about this – for every enhanced technique you want them to use against him, you let them use it on you first. Let you see how it feels. Then you will shut up.

    April 29, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  7. Michael Wallace

    Typical Republicans... Trying to expand the size of government and curtail individual freedoms.

    April 29, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. James

    Pretty sure Saturday morning until Monday afternoon is longer than 16 hours.

    April 29, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  9. Ancient Texan

    The present administration was livid that the previous administration has used "enhanced interrigation" (squirting a little water up a terrorist's nose) but we achieved useful intelligence to protect America. The present administration doesn't have any interest in securing intelligence facts, just killing the terrorist without trial or questions. Wouldn't you expect the bad guys to opt for the water instead of the drone? "Rule of Law" also includes trial and representation before execution.

    April 29, 2013 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  10. ghostriter

    I don't know who's worse, the politicians who don't seem to know the 1st thing about miranda rights or the loser posters.

    I'll go with the posters. At least the politicians are paid to act like this.

    April 29, 2013 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
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