Thursday, February 11, 2010

Chris Hayes Tries to Educate Morning Joe on the Constitution

Remarkable exchange between Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe and Chris Hayes of The Nation. Chris was on discussing the ongoing issue of the Christmas Day Bomber and whether or not he should have been given a Miranda Warning, this conversation taking place within the larger discussion of whether or not President Obama is handling the "war on terror" appropriately.

One moment in particular struck me as an obvious effort on the part of Joe Scarborough to - per the Republican methodology - build a strawman to argue rather than actually discuss the issue.

Joe: "Did we Mirandize Nazi prisoners of war?"
Chris: "I don't know if we Mirandized Nazi prisoners of war."
Joe: "Noooooo. I mean we've never done this before. I know Bush did it, but that doesn't make it right."

Why is this important? As Joe very likely already knows, there was no Miranda warning during the Nuremberg Trials. In the period 1945-1946, a full 20 years before Miranda, a series of military tribunals tried 22 of the most important captured Nazis and then later a second series of trials for "lesser" war crimes. These trials were not 1) in the United States, or 2) under the United States justice code, thus any question of Miranda or Constitutional protections are beside the point.

Just as an example of what a military tribunal is supposed to look like, the Nuremberg Tribunals were established by the three allied powers (Britain, the Soviet Union, and the United States) and the legal guidelines were established within the documents of surrender of Germany. Its jurisdiction was limited to Axis countries (Germany and its allies), for war crimes only, and only crimes commmitted after the official start of the war (Sept. 3, 1939).

 The Miranda Warning became embedded in Constitutional law on June 13, 1966 when the case of Miranda v. Arizona was decided. Ernesto Miranda was convicted of robbery, kidnapping, and rape, to which he had confessed during interrogation. He later claimed that the confession was made under duress. Miranda was ultimately convicted of these crimes, but because his later trial was fair and included witness testimony and evidence, that conviction was upheld. Escobedo v. Illinois in 1964 ensured the right to counsel.

So, another strawman. No, the Nazi war criminals were not Mirandized. We did not have the Miranda warning in 1945. The Nuremberg trials took place in Europe, the legal basis was agree to by the three allied powers, and coordination was conducted by the four Allied nations (France, no longer occupied was included). Each of the four countries provided one judge and one prosecutor. So, no one country's constitution, justice system, or military court applied.

Oh. By the way. Scarborough is a lawyer and before becoming a talking head, was a Congressman, so I think he knows that he was making it up.

Thanks for stopping by. Come back soon.

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