July 24, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Terror Suspect Triggers Hill Debate

Tom Williams/Roll Call
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (center), seen Tuesday with former Sen. Jim Talent, unleashed a broad assault on President Barack Obama’s national security policies.

House Republican leaders punted questions on the matter to Homeland Security ranking member Peter King (R-N.Y.), who issued a statement praising law enforcement for its efforts but was silent on the issue of whether Shahzad should be read his Miranda rights.

But Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) ripped Obama’s national security policies more broadly, saying they have weakened the United States’ reputation abroad and represent a “rapid state of retreat” from strong policies of the past. And House Judiciary ranking member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said Shahzad’s alleged terror plot is an example of why Congress should not pass immigration reform that includes a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants.

“It appears that even the background checks conducted prior to naturalization did not identify Shahzad as a national security risk. If we cannot detect a potential terrorist who submits himself to our security process, how can we expect to identify other potential terrorists or criminals who have been hiding behind their illegal status?” Smith asked.

House Democratic leaders and top administration officials shot down the GOP attacks and defended authorities’ use of Miranda rights in the case of Shahzad.

“This is a U.S. citizen, arrested on U.S. soil and subject to the constitutional protections and constraints of every U.S. citizen,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday.

Hoyer noted that his view was shared by conservative television host Glenn Beck. “Nothing says we can’t convict and give an appropriate punishment to people just because we give them their Miranda rights under the Constitution,” Hoyer said, adding that Timothy McVeigh, the home-grown terrorist convicted of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, received similar treatment before his prosecution.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called it “an affront to law enforcement” that McCain and others would question the decisions of counterterrorism officials who are “vested in getting every last bit of information from an interview or an interrogation.”

House Democrats also pounced on Cantor for going after Obama in the wake of a near-attack. “The American people are not impressed during these challenging times of our nation at war by simplistic jingoism as demonstrated by the Republican Whip,” said Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.), who sits on the Armed Services Committee.

There is a glimmer of bipartisanship to come, however. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) announced plans to introduce legislation to strip the citizenship rights of Americans who commit acts of terrorism, a proposal already drawing support from both parties.

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