Miranda revisited: you have the right to remain silent

Citation metadata

Author: John Haberstroh
Date: Summer 2011
From: The Forensic Examiner(Vol. 20, Issue 2)
Publisher: KSA Media, LLC
Document Type: Article
Length: 12,905 words
Lexile Measure: 1410L

Document controls

Main content

Article Preview :


Arguments still rage in the hue and cry of the recent attempted Christmas Day (2009) "underwear" bombing of Northwest Flight 253 and the subsequent Mirandizing of the alleged bomber, in lieu of delivery to the U.S. military's court system. To clarify this incendiary situation and shed further light on substantive details, it is appropriate to review the history of the now famous Miranda rights, how and when they apply, as well as the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). The fundamental question is asked of the reader: was Mirandizing both terrorists, one of whom is a U.S. citizen, the right thing to do?


This paper first reviews the recent terrorist actions of attempting to destroy a U.S. passenger jet over sovereign U.S. airspace (Detroit) and territory, as well as a brief overview of the Times Square bombing which was also thwarted. The next section, Part 2, contains an in-depth review of the strange and serpentine case of Ernesto Miranda and how his incarceration and subsequent successful Supreme Court appeal led to what quickly became known as the Miranda rights, a fundamental aspect of the civil liberties granted to all Americans. Part 3 discusses the intermingling of lave enforcement and intelligence operations, the USA PATRIOT Act, aspects of the Homeland Security Act, the surprisingly relevant aspects of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and the imbroglio of treating terrorists caught in the United States as combatants or as civilians and whether or not it was appropriate to Mirandize these terrorists.


A Delta Airlines A330-323E twinjet Airbus operated by Northwest Airlines as Flight 253 was inbound from Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, Netherlands for a routine landing at Detroit Metro Airport. There were 290 people on board including the flight crew; local arrival time in Detroit was 11:40 a.m. On board the flight was the alleged bomber, Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian engineering student who had concealed a plastic explosive inside his underwear, later determined to be Pentaerythritol Tetranitriate (PETN) (Shane, 2009; Bohn, 2009).

Witnesses later revealed that as the plane was approaching Detroit, Abdulmutallab retired to the plane's bathroom and remained there for close to 20 minutes. He eventually returned to his seat, #19A, later determined to have been selectively chosen due to its proximity to the plane's fuel tanks, wing, and inner fuselage. Witnesses reported that Abdulmutallab began complaining of an upset stomach, which explained why he pulled a blanket over himself (Herridge, 2009). Later, as the plane was on its final approach (approximately 20 minutes before actual touchdown), Abdulmutallab ignited the explosive device sewn inside his underwear. The PETN contained a plastic explosive and a liquid acid. The idea was to inject the acid into the plastic explosive, causing a chemical reaction to ensue. As it turned out, there was a small explosion, a small fire, and smoke all underneath the blanket he kept over his body; however, the device failed to properly explode. Passengers later commented on the fact...

Source Citation

Source Citation   

Gale Document Number: GALE|A263249958