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Posts Tagged ‘questioning’

      There is a terrible abuse of power, allegedly, in the investigation of a double murder case in Arizona.  A young 8 year old child was being interviewed by the police in the murder case of his father and a houseguest/friend of the father who were shot and killed. The interview was recorded; thank God, because it shows the leading questions being asked by the officers; as well as the answers given by the child.

      This is outrageous; children are very easily led by those in authority.  This child was a potential witness and was being interviewed as such.  The officers allegedly said to the child, what if we had someone who ‘saw’ something?  Then, when a series of questions was put to the child and he was led to say that he ‘might’ have shot the gun that day, then he might have shot his father, then he might have shot the friend…before long he was shooting the gun that day and he didn’t know…if maybe he shot his father.  You see what i am saying…this line of questioning was done without an adult advocate for the child being present.

       There was no attorney in the room who represented the child…there was no parent present (father was killed…but the child had a mother who lived out of state) there was no friend or clergy present…no teacher…no person who could stop the interview when it allegedly (and in my opinion was) turned into coersion to get the child to confess to murder.  This is an 8 year old child.  Clearly, he was anxious, fearful and wanting to give them answers…he was wanting to be pleasing to the authority figures in the room so that the questions would stop.  Whether he is guilty of murder or not…this is not how questioning should have been conducted.

        Even if it is true that this child committed murder (it would indeed be a terrible thing)…the case will probably be thrown out because the ‘evidence on tape’ was done without the child being read his rights/and in lieu of not being able to comprehend his miranda rights (or to have anyone unbiased explain it to him)…there was no adult advocate present to prevent him from implicating himself in the taped ‘confession’.  What if this child confessed to a crime that he did not commit?

        This is a huge problem in our court system.  People who conduct police interviews with children, or with people who are disabled/special needs….should be required to have special training.  It is very easy to lead a person to ‘confess’ to a crime when they are being questioned by a person who is viewed as an authority figure when they are at a disadvantage intellectually (disabled) or if they are not of an age of understanding…a young minor child.

          This case will have long term repercussions in the legal system; as it should.  It was an outrageous abuse of power and the impact on police procedures should be addressed.  What do you think of this situation?  You can watch part of this interview on cnn.  http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/11/19/boy.confession.tactics/index.html#cnnSTCVideo

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        Guantanamo Bay or Gitmo, as it is often referred to, has been infamous since it was turned into a detention center for suspected terrorists.   Those who have been detained there have been allegedly branded as enemy combatants to the United States.   Now there are questions regarding the standard operating procedures; have they been trashed to get confessions?

           Some people feel that the rights of the detainees have been violated since the Bush administration stated that the Geneva Conventions protection did not have to be provided to the prisoners.  The US Supreme court disagreed with the Bush administration and future prisoners will NOW be afforded those protections.  The question is, what happens to those already in custody?  Those in custody have to prepare some kind of defense if they hope to get released. 

         In the meantime, much concern has been raised about those in legal limbo in the detention center. There are some detainees who could be released if the US could find countries willing to take them.   After all, what country is going to want to take in someone who has been accused of terrorism, whether it was proven or not?   Some detainees have already been released; but, many are still awaiting trial. 

            Questions have been raised about some of the interrogation techniques used to get confessions.  Were the confessions legitimate; or, were they obtained because of abusive or harsh treatment during questioning?  What if a person truly was guilty of the charges…but, the evidence was gotten because of hard interrogation techniques…is that acceptable; after all, some of the crimes alleged are pretty horrific?  Or, as a “civilized nation” are we bound to provide “humane” conditions; do the ends justify the means?

        Lawyers charged with providing legal representation for their clients are alledging that a standard operating procedures manual from the Pentagon had instructions to “destroy or trash” hand written notes or documents from the interrogations; in case the interrogators were called to testify, regarding harsh treatment of those kept in the detention center.  The lawyers claim that not having those handwritten notes makes representing their clients difficult because it is hard to prove that their “client’s confessions” were gotten in an intimidating way or through an abuse of power.

       If evidence has been suppressed by the government…that carries serious legal consequences for anyone in this situation.  While terrorism is a huge concern and we all want those involved in it to be apprehended…we have to examine the limits to the methods that we allow interrogators to use to get that information. 

          Detainees proven to be guilty, without a shadow of doubt, of alleged terrorist activities should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  That is why it is so very important about the way the information is gathered….we wouldn’t want a true terrorist to get away with it legally, because of an illegal method of gathering that evidence.

           Where should the line be drawn between the war on terrorism and humane treatment of suspected criminals?  Or should we have limits at all?  If we don’t have limits…how do we discern the difference between ourselves and those considered to be terrorists?   What about national security; what if releasing some of that information jeparodizes the safety of American citizens?  These are not simple questions, nor are the answers easy to come up with.  What do you think?

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