Attorney General Eric Holder's belated admission that Miranda warnings are unsuitable for terrorism suspects could be one of those flip-flops worth cheering. Emphasis on could be.
Until Sunday, Holder had a fetish for treating terrorism as an ordinary crime and putting hardened battlefield captives through the criminal-justice process, which involves the right to remain silent and other protections. His plan to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, in lower Manhattan smacked of a dangerous ideological agenda.
Yet after months of defending the 44-year-old rule on Miranda warnings, Holder used the Times Square bombing attempt to suddenly say Team Obama would seek greater exemptions in terrorism cases. He called it a "new priority" and said in a TV interview, "We're now dealing with international terrorists" and need something "more consistent with the threat that we now face."
His two uses of the word "now" are informative and troubling. Informative, because they suggest he gets the rising level of danger. Troubling, because you have to wonder why he didn't get it before he discovered the Times Square bomber had ties to a Pakistani group.
Even his use of "international terrorists" is suspect. Who did he think we've been fighting since 9/11?
While it's far better that he wake up late than never, there are two clear tests that will tell us whether Holder really gets it or is just seeking political cover.
First, instead of new suspects being offered the Miranda rights, they should be held and questioned as military detainees. That's where most belonged all along.
Second, he should once and for all announce that the Khalid Sheik Mohammed trial will not be held in New York and that the mass murderer will be tried in a military tribunal.
By acing both tests, Holder can show he finally understands the threat facing the nation. Anything less is coddling-as-usual.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.
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Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.