In this country, when a defendant is arrested, they are given what are called "Miranda" warnings. If you watch TV, you know those warnings. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
We are in a time of national stress over a type of criminal called the "terrorist." Much like the "communist," of the 1950s, and the "anarchist" of the 1920s, the "terrorist" is defined as being not limited to one nation, not clearly identifiable since they blend into society, they are almost mystical because they can fool all of us, much like the Invisible Man, they can put on a cloak and become invisible and move among us spreading their evil.
When the "enemy" is so diffuse, so hard to identify, their national identity uncertain, then law enforcement tends to overreact. They want to suspend civil liberties. Take away the rights of "them." Joe Lieberman, a despicable viper who does nothing for this country, has now introduced a law to take away "their" citizenship if they are accused of having done something. Stern punishment for vague accusations.
A few weeks ago a naturalized citizen, originally from Pakistan, allegedly packed a car full of what could have been explosives and parked it in Times Square. Luck prevented the bomb from detonating, but good old fashioned police work led to the arrest of the suspect.
But that's not good enough for the fascists among us. Instead of applauding the police and the federal government for doing an excellent job, they are now clamoring that the suspect should not have been read his Miranda warnings. Because, you know, if he was, then ... something. I'm not even sure what they think would happen.
I don't think these people want to get rid of the Miranda warnings for "terrorist" citizens originally from Pakistan. I think they want to get rid of the Miranda warnings, and all limits on the police state, which exist for the protection of the citizens of this country. They don't care about the Times Square bomber having rights. They care about the rest of us not having rights.
Most of the restrictions on the police power of the state are not really for the benefit of the defendant or the accused, although they certainly do benefit. But the restrictions are put into place for the benefit of our country, our society, all our citizens.
The reason we have a law that requires a person who is arrested be immediately advised that they do not have to speak, they have a right to an attorney, is because the police in this country (and throughout history in every country) sometimes are so convinced of the defendant's guilt, so eager to get the bad guy, that they will beat him until they get a confession.
Most of the restrictions on the police are the direct result of the police abusing their authority, beating prisoners, tricking prisoners, lying, planting evidence, sneaking into people's homes without warrants or reasonable cause. The police do what is almost inevitable, given the pressures they are under. Our constitution pushes back, telling the police that no matter how much pressure they are under, no matter how horrible the crime, they will respect the civil liberties of people in this country. This is not a police state and it is not a dictatorship.
Historically the people who are members of less popular groups are the ones who are most likely beaten, tortured into confessing, sometimes killed while in jail. Who are these unpopular people? It varies over time. In the 1920s, when the U.S. Attorney General, Palmer, worked with the cross-dressing J. Edgar Hoover to enhance their own power, they led a nationwide assault on foreigners who they called "anarchists," and deported them all. These were called the Palmer Raids. In the 1950s, it was the "communists" they were after, which led to the execution of the Rosenbergs in what might have been the first Cointelpro case of the despicable and murderous Mr. Hoover.
Homosexuals have always been denied rights by the police, often brutalized and demeaned and humiliated because they are considered inferior. Black people certainly have been beaten and murdered by the police, framed, imprisoned, sometimes hung. The entire Black Panther Party was targeted by J. Edgar Hoover for elimination, and many were falsely imprisoned, many were simply murdered. Hispanics have been routinely denied any civil rights in our country.
Chinese people were so hated at one point in our country that they were routinely deported or detained without rights. There was a special law called the Chinese Exclusion Laws specifically intended to keep Chinese out, get rid of the ones who are already here. No civil liberties for Chinese Americans, even those who had been here for generations. Native Americans have been simply slaughtered when the dominant state could not find a legal crime, the nation's leaders declaring them all to be savages who needed to be executed.
Usually these barbarities are carried out to "defend white womanhood and Christian society." It's pretty funny, in a sick way. Here we are again: the Christian Nation wants to kill everyone. We learn nothing.
The bush-cheney regime went a long way to take away all the legal protections that exist for the benefit of the people in this country. And don't kid yourself for a minute: the Muslim from another country who is tortured today could be your cousin from Kansas tomorrow. Abuse of power and violence by the state tends to spread, not to contract. The main question is whether Obama intends to restore the constitution or to further destroy it. It's not looking good.