Political Animal


April 21, 2013 11:37 AM Who’s Doing the Terrorizing?

Lindsey Graham takes a page from the Bush-Cheney playbook

By Jamie Malanowski

Apparently on Friday, before Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was apprehended, Sen. Lindsey Graham was already torquing up the hysteria by taking the position that Tsarnaev not receive his Miranda warning before being interrogated. Graham—who, not to imply anything from this, is one of those lucky men who can go into any barbershop and the get the exact look he wants simply by saying, “I’d like the Adolf Hitler haircut”—tweeted “If captured I hope [the] Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as [an] enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.” He then added “The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to ‘remain silent.’”

The Brothers Tsarnaev will never be known as anything but terrorists, but Boston certainly doesn’t look a town that has been terrorized to me. Defiant? Sure. Inspired? Definitely. There’s a kind of a civic euphoria arising from the realization that town came through this blow with strength and intelligence and courage. From the first responders on Monday, to the individuals who opened their homes to stranded runners, to the full-throated expression of patriotism that infused the way Bruins fans sang the national anthem, to an exemplary performance by the law enforcement authorities, Boston has a lot to be proud of. They don’t look terrorized to me.

It’s the Lindsey Grahams who are terrorizing people by suggesting that this threat maybe might possibly be so enormous that we have to deny Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights as an American citizen. This is a page straight out of the Bush-Cheney playbook, the idea that we have to start throwing away our most important values and traditions in order to be secure.

It’s nonsense. Denying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights won’t improve my safety. Let’s face it: if I really wanted to improve my safety, I would lose twenty pounds.

Jamie Malanowski is a writer and editor. He has been an editor at Time, Esquire and most recently Playboy, where he was Managing Editor.


  • Jim Hill on April 21, 2013 12:18 PM:

    I'm no fan of Sen. Graham, but the "barbershop Hitler haircut" line does nothing but distract from the point you were trying to make and undermine the Monthly's credibility as a journalistic enterprise.

    Humor is a dangerous weapon to wield carelessly because it frequently misfires.

  • andrew johnson on April 21, 2013 12:39 PM:

    Sen. Graham is as loathsome a toady Republican as can be found in today's Senate, but it's incredibly inappropriate to slur him with the Hitler reference. It's not worthy of the Monthly's usually-high standards.

  • Rick B on April 21, 2013 12:52 PM:

    The national Republican Party has a detestable domestic policy to run on since it is run by self-centered plutocrats. That's been true as far back as the 1920's.

    So they continually try to build up existential external and internal threats to America and the American way of life and promise they can "fix" the threats "ignored" by the opposition Democrats.

    Communists in the 1920's and 1930's, nazis and the Japanese in the 40's, and then the USSR expanded, got the "bomb" and created a real threat. When the French pulled out of Vietnam the American Republicans stupidly sent U.S. troops to replace them in the 1950's. The domino theory was a lie designed to get votes for the national Republican Party. Reagan's build up was another lie. There was no real threat to the U.S. 1989 and the collapse of the USSR was a disaster for the Republicans so they had to find something new.

    They discovered the irritant of the Muslim extremists. An irritant, yes, but like a hive of bees. The bees are not going to take over your house, but don't go poking at them to see what they will do, either.

    Lindsay Graham needs to get reelected in spite of his sexual identity, so he is over-blowing the threat of terrorism. Terrorism is a real problem, but it is no existential threat to the U.S. - except to the christianist fundamentalists who fear that Islam can out-evangelize them.

  • Don SinFalta on April 21, 2013 1:12 PM:

    The Bush-Cheney playbook? Yes, it is a page out of that playbook, one that didn't work the last time it was tried. So is it better that the current administration only plans to remove our civil rights incrementally by expanding the "Miranda exception"?

    “There may be exceptional cases,” the DOJ memo read, “in which, although all relevant public safety questions have been asked, agents nonetheless conclude that continued unwarned interrogation is necessary to collect valuable and timely intelligence not related to any immediate threat, and that the government’s interest in obtaining this intelligence outweighs the disadvantages of proceeding with unwarned interrogation.”

  • LouisM on April 21, 2013 1:19 PM:

    In an interview today on NPR, John Ashcroft had no problem at all with the way this case is being handled. So there, Lindsey Graham.

  • thebewilderness on April 21, 2013 1:24 PM:

    This is absurd. Telling a person they have the right to remain silent is not the same as telling him to remain silent.
    How does Senator "five rugs for five bucks" think he can prevent a suspect from remaining silent?
    We know from experience what the answer to that question is. Torture.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on April 21, 2013 1:26 PM:

    Miss Lindsey is setting the administration up for another Benghazi scandal. A dozen Krispy Kremes says he'll be demanding to know how soon and how much Obama's folks investigated possible terrorist links and why they didn't inform the people 3 hours after the bombing.

    I haven't been watching the news since the younger brother was caught, so I'm still speculating that these were rebels without a cause but sufficient bomb-building skills.

  • c u n d gulag on April 21, 2013 1:30 PM:

    Poor, poor, poor, Senator Limpseed Cornpone Grahamcrackers (R - Closet), he has to channel his inner Reich-wing peckerwood to make sure no one can primary him from the right next year, for being insufficiently Cro-Magnon enough.

    You'd think a JAG would be a little less of a fraidy-cat, wouldn't you?

    Conservatives like him are the ones terrorizing the country, since they run around all of the time, petrified by someone or something or other.

    Don't worry, Senator, SC is probably very safe.

    People don't leave restrictive and backwards countries to move into a restrictive and backwards American state. Not even to terrorize them.
    Why bother?
    Apparently, you're already terrorized enough on your own.

  • biggerbox on April 21, 2013 1:41 PM:

    Graham presumes a lot by suggesting that the kid even fits the definition of enemy combatant. Personally, I think they are pushing it trying for the 'public safety' exemption after life has gotten back to normal in the city and the Red Sox are already playing their second game since his capture. The 'ticking time-bomb' scenario is getting pretty threadbare.

    Besides, he's an American citizen, a smart kid who's grown up in the US. If he doesn't know enough to say "I want a lawyer" as soon as he wakes up, hours of TV drama are for naught. They should just Miranda him. It's not like there isn't plenty of evidence if he never says a word.

  • j on April 21, 2013 2:07 PM:

    I've been reading gulag's comments for a long long time, he seems to be on the mark as usual -gulag you are a national treasure!

  • Citizen Alan on April 21, 2013 2:09 PM:

    I don't have the slightest problem with "Hitler jokes," anymore. Not a one. It should be obvious to everyone that the GOP is a demonstrably fascist organization that has no respect for any part of our Constitution except the 2nd Amendment and the 10th Amendment, both of which they twist and deform in order to undermine our democratic society.
    Does anyone really doubt that if Lindsay Graham had been around in the 1930's, he'd have been one of the Republicans calling FDR a bolshevik while praising Hitler and Mussolini for all their great accomplishments?

  • Robert Waldmann on April 21, 2013 2:30 PM:

    This is my usual comment on this subject. "Dzhokhar Tsarnaev his rights as an American citizen." is an attack on the actual US Constitution as actually written. The due process rights established by the bill of rights are the same for citizens and non citizens. The fifth and sixth amendments are very clear -- they describe things that the US government must not do to anyone. Citizenship.

    Here they are. I am alarmed by how many times I feel the need to quote them in comment threads, because people claim they say something which they clearly don't.

    V. "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

    VI "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."

    Note the absense of the word "citizen" or the phrase "the people" or any way in which the framers could have made it clearer that non citizens have the same fifth and sixth amendmend rights as citizens.

  • Robert Abbott on April 21, 2013 2:43 PM:

    I am dismayed that we've started up the ideological wars within two or three hours of D. Tsarnaev's arrest, namely over whether he should be read his Miranda rights before questioning. As an attorney, you must know that if Tsarnaev asks for an attorney at any time, he cannot be questioned any further, forever. So not reading the Miranda warning might forestall a request for an attorney. The cops NEED to talk to him about this conspiracy to find who else might be involved. But w/o Miranda, his constitutional rights won't have effectively been violated because a judge can find his statements inadmissible at trial. No harm, no foul. And in this case, there is likely enough evidence that a confession to police may not be needed. The prosecutor can call the owner of the SUV the suspect and his brother highjacked. The statement made to him is admissible. And in a conspiracy, the acts of one participant are the acts of all in the conspiracy. Besides, the right wants him treated as an enemy combatant, not a criminal. The President said yesterday that he will be tried in criminal court. He is going to be given the full panoply of rights all criminal defendants enjoy, including the presumption of innocence and the requirement of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. All in all, this Miranda warning business is a tempest in a teapot. So I'd ask that you and others quit trying to gin up an ideological crusade against the right. It is not something that we have to take sides over.

  • Wapiti on April 21, 2013 3:43 PM:

    "So I'd ask that you and others quit trying to gin up an ideological crusade against the right. It is not something that we have to take sides over."

    It's not just about Miranda. Senator Graham, a trained lawyer, tweeted: “If captured I hope [the] Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as [an] enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes.”

    That's worth taking a side against. Methinks Graham is making the ideological crusade, not the people pushing for Constitution protections.

  • Robert Abbott on April 21, 2013 4:13 PM:

    Senator Graham may want Tsarnaev held as an enemy combatant, but the President has said he'll be tried in civilian courts. So, his rights aren't going to be violated on that account. But I think the guy should be interviewed for intelligence purposes. His rights won't be violated on that account either because a judge can rule them inadmissible at trial and because the prosecution may not need his statements to secure a conviction. That is why we don't need to get exorcised over Graham's demands. That's all I'm saying.

  • Bruce Rosner on April 22, 2013 8:42 AM:

    There was an interesting similar event in 1911. The brothers McNamara blew up the Los Angeles Times building (with dynamite - the explosive technology of the era) killing over 20 and wounding over 100 newspaper employees.
    While the suspects were doubtless deprived of a modern suspects rights and perhaps even subjected to physical abuse Clarence Darrow was able to plea bargain the penalty down to life for the elder brother and 15 years for the younger.