A senior Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is accusing the Obama administration of quietly ordering the FBI to start reading Miranda rights to suspected terrorists at U.S. military detention facilities in Afghanistan.
The move is reportedly creating chaos in the field among the CIA, FBI and military personnel, according to Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich. The soldiers, especially, he says, are frustrated that giving high value detainees Miranda rights — the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney — is impeding their ability to pursue intelligence on the battlefield, according to a story first reported by the Weekly Standard.
“What I found was lots of confusion and very frustrated people on the front lines who are trying to, well, make Afghanistan successful for the United States and its allies,” said Rogers, who serves on the House Intelligence Committee.
Rogers, a former FBI special agent who served in the U.S. Army, just returned from Afghanistan and a visit to Bagram Air Base, where he said the rights are being read.
“I witnessed it myself, talked to the people on the ground,” he said. “What you have is two very separate missions colliding in the field in a combat zone. Again, anytime that you offer confusion in that environment that’s already chaotic and confusing enough, you jeopardize a soldier’s life.”
U.S. commanders told FOX News soldiers are not reading Miranda rights to detainees, but those commanders could not speak to whether the FBI was doing so. The practice has not been instituted at detention facilities in Iraq or at Guantanamo Bay, according to U.S. senior military officials.
Asked if the Obama administration had ordered that Miranda rights be read to certain detainees, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “I have no reason to disbelieve a member of Congress. But I don’t know any of the circumstances that are involved around it.”
But Gibbs acknowledged that it wouldn’t be a surprise to find out that it was happening.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd denied there has been a policy change covering detainees.
“There has been no policy change nor blanket instruction for FBI agents to Mirandize detainees overseas,” he said in a statement, adding, “While there have been specific cases in which FBI agents have Mirandized suspects overseas, at both Bagram and in other situations, in order to preserve the quality of evidence obtained, there has been no overall policy change with respect to detainees.”
Some senators wonder what would have happened if Khaled Sheikh Mohammad, a self-confessed architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, had been read his Miranda rights.
“I’d be very concerned if we’re sending FBI agents over to Bagram Air Base in the middle of a military operation to start reading Miranda rights to detainees caught on the battlefield,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said.