The Slatest

Holder Says He Has No Regrets About Handling of Dzhokhar’s Miranda Rights

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during the Anti-Defamation League Centennial Summitl in Washington on Monday.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Attorney General Eric Holder says he has no regrets about how the FBI handled the pre-Miranda interrogation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (via CNN):

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.

The exact timeline of when investigators interviewed Tsarnaev in his hospital bed remains unclear, but NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly (who stressed he got his information secondhand from officials in Boston) suggested last week that Dzhokhar was interrogated twice, the first time on “Saturday evening into Sunday morning” and the second on “Sunday evening into Monday morning.” According to previous reports, the questioning lasted a total of 16 hours before Dzhokhar stopped cooperating upon being informed of his right to remain silent. That second interview appears to have ended somewhat abruptly once Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler entered the room and informed the younger Tsarnaev brother of his rights.

The Obama administration has taken heat from both sides for its handling of the “public safety” exception that it used to question the Boston bombing suspect. Slate’s own Emily Bazelon, for one, has argued that 16 hours was too long and unnecessarily stretched what is supposed to be a very limited exception. A number of congressional Republicans, meanwhile, are upset for the opposite reason, arguing that the FBI should have been given more time with the suspect. “This is the Eric Holder crowd basically refusing to embrace interrogation techniques available to us to make us safe,” Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a Fox New interview last week, adding, “This was a big mistake.” U.S. Rep. Peter King, meanwhile, offered an even harsher critique, saying that the decision to Mirandize was “disgraceful.”

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