Foreword By Janet Napolitano, Governor of Arizona
Table of Contents
  Miranda's Confession
  Right to Counsel
  Privilege Against Self-Incrimination
  Miranda and the Arizona Supreme Court
  Birth of the Miranda Warnings
  John Frank as Architect of the Miranda Doctrine
  John Flynn's Oral  Argument at the Supreme Court
  Gary Nelson's Oral Argument for Arizona
  Thurgood Marshall's Oral  Argument at the Supreme Court
  The Opinion
  The Miranda Warnings
  The Ongoing Debate
  The Dickerson Case
  Miranda's Global Reach

Miranda and the al Qaeda Terror

  Padilla and Hamdi
  False Confessions and the Tuscson Four
  Political Ideology and the Supreme Court
  Dickerson's Legacy
  Gideon's Legacy
  The Evolution of Miranda


from Chapter 7

Miranda and the al Qaeda Terror

Excerpts from pages 132-136

America’s sense of security was seriously shaken on September 11, 2001, when terrorists, using three hijacked commercial airliners as flying bombs, attacked New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The reality of the attack became even more numbing when CNN told the world, in early December, that a young American had been captured among Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in the ensuing armed conflict in Afghanistan.

When John Philip Walker Lindh’s bedraggled figure began to appear on television monitors all over the country, it was to the horror of a people who had just come to sense that, despite all their divisiveness, they were truly a society united by common ideals and facing a common foe. And Lindh, in the minds of most Americans, was betraying his country at the very time when patriotism was most needed. It did not seem unjustified when the Washington Post headline blared “Walker Charged with Treason,” and, in slightly smaller print, noted “He Could Be Sentenced to Life for Fighting Alongside Taliban.”

It was also inevitable that Lindh quickly became nearly as hated in the United States as Osama bin Laden, and many were happy to oblige his apparent renunciation of American citizenship. Legally, however, the idea that he was anything other than an American and thus potentially not subject to American justice, on American soil, was equally distasteful. Thus, while other Taliban fighters who may have participated in the reign of terror against America would face military tribunals outside the United States, Lindh, the so-called “American Taliban,” would have a chance to exercise his privilege as an American citizen: his right to be tried in an American court, with the aid of counsel and the right to remain silent.

The case at first seemed simple enough. Lindh was charged with conspiracy to kill nationals of the United States overseas, providing material support and resources to designated foreign terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, and engaging in prohibited transactions with the Taliban. As evidence the prosecution would have Lindh’s own confession, given freely to the FBI after he had been informed of his Miranda rights, including his right to speak to counsel. Furthermore, he had acknowledged that he understood each of his rights and he had chosen to waive them, both verbally and in a signed document. As Attorney General John Ashcroft told the nation on January 15, 2002, “The charges filed against Walker are based on voluntary statements made by Walker himself.”


On July 15, 2002, USA Today reported, “The biggest battle in United States of America vs. John Walker Lindh begins today as defense attorneys and prosecutors face off over using the American Taliban fighter’s incriminating statements to the military, media, and FBI against him.”

The trial - the arguments on both sides to determine just how Miranda should apply in this extraordinary situation - would have been interesting, to say the least. On July 15, 2002, however, Lindh himself rendered moot his pending motion to suppress his confessions and in so doing rendered his Miranda challenge unnecessary as well: He pled guilty to reduced charges in exchange for a stipulated prison term, and Judge Ellis accepted the plea and signed an appropriate order to that effect.

Miranda: The Story of America's Right to Remain Silent
Copyright © 2004, Gary L. Stuart. All rights reserved.
Available at Alibris,, Barnes and Noble, and your local bookseller
page last revised: 10/25/04