The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brenda Bowser Soder,,O -202/370-3323, C - 301/906-4460

Former FBI Interrogators Tell Obama Miranda Modifications May Do "More Harm Than Good"


Troubled by reports that the Obama administration is considering
modifications to the Miranda rule, three of the FBI's most experienced
interrogators and terrorism experts today told President Barack Obama
that changes are not necessary to protect national security. In a letter sent to the President,
former FBI interrogators Jim Clemente, Jack Cloonan and Joe Navarro
warned that legislating changes to this time-tested rule may do "more
harm than good."

"Miranda rights are important and play a vital role in our work. As
interrogators who have sat across the table from those who seek to harm
our nation and its citizens, we assure you that existing Miranda rules
are nimble enough to handle situations as they arise," the
interrogators noted.

According to the letter, sent as Attorney General Eric Holder is
slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and will likely
face questions related to recent reports that the administration is
considering changes to Miranda, legislation to modify Miranda could
very well result in rules that unnecessarily constrain law enforcement
officials and hinder their ability to adapt to unforeseen
situations. The interrogators, who have collectively interviewed
thousands of individuals in connection with perceived terror threats,
urged President Obama to "stand up for the rule of law and the ability
of interrogators to effectively do their job" by standing up for
existing Miranda rights and not seeking changes to these rules.

The interrogators wrote, "In our decades of working in law
enforcement, including the years following 9/11, Miranda rights never
interfered with our ability to obtain useful information or make
prosecutable cases. Miranda doesn't undermine the ability to bring
criminals to justice, incompetent investigators and untested laws do.
We must not abandon our nation's fundamental rule of law in the name of
preserving public safety and convicting terrorists. If we abandon our
laws and apply draconian methods in response to terrorist threats, then
the terrorists and their quest for lawlessness will have won. What's
more, their victory will jeopardize our ability to bring those
terrorists to justice later."

About the signers:

  • Jim Clement spent 25 years as a FBI Supervisory
    Special Agent. Clemente was a member of the National Center for the
    Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC) Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), an
    integral part of the Critical Incident Response Group, which provides
    behavioral support during all FBI crisis incidents.
  • Jack Cloonan, a 25 veteran of the FBI, was
    a special agent for the Bureau's Osama bin Laden unit from 1996 to
    2002. During that time, he played a lead role in the FBI's efforts to
    stop Al Qaeda.
  • Joe Navarro spent 25 years working as an
    FBI special agent in the area of counterintelligence and behavioral
    assessment and is a founding member of the National Security Division's
    Behavioral Analysis Program. Navarro authored the book that the FBI
    uses to train advanced interrogators. He is author of a number of books
    about interviewing techniques and practice including Advanced Interviewing, which he co-wrote with Jack Schafer, and Hunting Terrorists: A Look at the Psycopathology of Terror.

The former FBI interrogators signing today's letter are available
for comment and may be reached by contacting Brenda Bowser Soder at
(202) 370-3323.

Human Rights First is a non-profit, nonpartisan international human rights organization based in New York and Washington D.C. Human Rights First believes that building respect for human rights and the rule of law will help ensure the dignity to which every individual is entitled and will stem tyranny, extremism, intolerance, and violence.