A Detroit federal judge’s decision yesterday to let prosecutors use a terrorism suspect’s incriminating statements — even though he wasn’t read his rights — has triggered a legal debate, says the Detroit Free Press. Some say it was the right call, because agents needed to find out quickly whether other suicide bombers were in the air. Others say the ruling sets a dangerous precedent that could open the door to coerced confessions.
The case involves Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, 24, who goes on trial Oct. 11 on charges that he tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009 with a bomb hidden in his underwear. U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds ruled admissible Abdulmutallab’s statement, which he sought to have suppressed. “This is a slippery slope,” Andrew Patel, a New York City defense attorney, said of the FBI agents’ decision to question a suspect without reading him his rights. Patel, who has represented terrorism suspects, said he fears Miranda rights could eventually be ignored in run-of-the-mill cases. “Where do we stop? Where’s the line in the sand? How about the drunk driver?” he said, arguing that the decision could give police too much leeway in deciding what constitutes an emergency.