9/11 families oppose Holder proposal to modify Miranda

During an interview Sunday on ABC television's current affairs talk show This Week, Attorney General Eric Holder suggested creating an exception to so-called Miranda rights established in a 1966 Supreme Court ruling that forbids prosecutors from using statements made by suspects before they have been warned that they have a right to remain silent.

"We're now dealing with international terrorists," the attorney general told NBC television. "And I think that we have to think about perhaps modifying the rules that interrogators have and somehow coming up with something that is flexible and is more consistent with the threat that we now face."

Monday morning, an anti-war organization for survivors of the September 11, 2001 attacks along with friends and family members of the victims, blasted the proposal.

Donna Marsh O’Connor, spokesperson for September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, issued the following statement:

Last week law enforcement agencies including the FBI and the NYPD successfully aborted an attempt to kill Americans by following the rule of law. According to Attorney General Holder the suspect Faisal Shazad was apprehended, read his Miranda rights, and began to proffer information vital to US interests, continuing to speak to this day. There is already room in Miranda for postponing the reading of rights in the interests of public safety and this was, indeed, invoked. Surprisingly, in the face of this success, Holder now maintains that we should "revisit" Miranda laws for those apprehended for alleged terrorist activities. We urge caution and we invoke reason: we have laws that work to protect our citizens and our security. We should not proceed down a road that may become a slippery slope towards the curtailment of fundamental due process rights that have served this nation well.

The group's website states its goals: "By developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice, we hope to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism. Acknowledging our common experience with all people affected by violence throughout the world, we work to create a safer and more peaceful world for everyone."

A core group of 200 family members directly affected by loss on September 11th have joined our group, and thousands of supporters have joined our mailing list. Our family members live in 31 states and seven foreign countries. In accordance with our bylaws, our co-directors and steering committee members are also 9/11 family members.

In 2006, the Washington Post's Michael Powell reported that, with regards to 9/11, "unreasonable questions resonate with the reasonable."

Colleen Kelly's brother, a salesman, had breakfast at the Windows on the World restaurant on Sept. 11. After he died she founded September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows to oppose the Iraq war. She lives in the Bronx and gives a gingerly embrace to the conspiracy crowd.

"Sometimes I listen to them and I think that's sooooo outlandish and bizarre," she says. "But that day had such disastrous geopolitical consequences. If David Ray Griffin asks uncomfortable questions and points out painful discrepancies? Good for him."


Further downward

Good for Donna Marsh O'Connor in making this strong and eminently common-sense statement. They've already reduced due process and civil liberties to so much rubble since 9/11 (with some precedents going back even earlier), and now they want to take a sledgehammer to what bits remain. In fact, that's where I'd offer a slight revision to her statement: Where she says:

'We should not proceed down a road that may become a slippery slope towards the curtailment of fundamental due process rights that have served this nation well'

sounds as if we should only be concerned with the potential for damage still to come. What would be more on target, in my opinion, would be something like:

'We should not continue any further down a road that has already proven to be a slippery slope, resulting in the curtailment of fundamental due process rights that have served this nation well.'