This is astonishing. Here’s a transcript, courtesy of Media Matters (since the cheapo version of WP won’t embed iframe):
KILMEADE: But when we get the guy, we can’t say — first we’re going to tell them you have the right to remain silent. Fantastic. So the bombs that could be exploding and the plots unfolding, we can’t ask ’em.
JOHNSON: Sure we can. We did.
KILMEADE: And they have a right not to answer.
JOHNSON: We did. It’s the public safety exception.
KILMEADE: Yeah but how long did it last? Three hours?
JOHNSON: But Brian, we’re a nation of laws, we’re not a nation of [inaudible].
KILMEADE: We are a nation to stay alive. It is not a death sentence.
JOHNSON: So what do we do?
KILMEADE: What do we do? We sit there — F.B.I. Interrogators sit down with him for a week or two until they feel as though they got accurate information.
JOHNSON: Do you believe in indefinite detention of Americans? Because I don’t. I don’t believe we should detain — No matter how loathsome, disgusting, vile, contemptible.
KILMEADE: Two different issues.
JOHNSON: No, it’s the same issue, an American issue. No, no, no. Either we believe in the Constitution or we don’t believe in the Constitution.
KILMEADE: Not everyone is worthy of the constitutional rights that we have.
When you’ve positioned yourself in such a way that Peter Johnson, Jr. (peruse some of his fine work here) is clearly the more reasonable, sensible person on camera, you’ve really gone out to lunch. The above jaw-dropper comes only a day after Kilmeade proposed bugging all mosques in the United States and offered that he “understood the sentiment” behind torturing terrorism suspects, AGAIN letting Johnson look sane in pointing out that this would be unbelievably inappropriate (with a “we don’t torture, we use enhanced interrogation” obfuscation thrown in there).
As an aside, I know Brian isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, but does he just seem utterly clueless here on concepts like “rights” and, in the mosque bugging video, “leads”? Reading a suspect his or her Miranda rights doesn’t “give” those rights to them, it informs them that they have those rights. Dzhokhar could still refuse to talk (though he seems not to be availing himself of that right), regardless of whether or not we tell him he can. In the bugging video, he seems to think that the existence of a mosque and the existence of Islamic terrorism constitutes a “lead” that would permit authorities to bug all mosques, everywhere, all the time. This is not only un-Constitutional, it would be a logistical nightmare and actually make investigators’ work harder by virtue of the massive amounts of noise they’d suddenly have to sift through in the hope of finding something interesting.
This is all it takes, I guess, to make Real American Conservative He-Men wet themselves and have a conniption. The Boston Marathon Bombing was a terrible thing, and we are right to demand that the government pursue every legal pathway to determine what happened and to try to keep something like it from happening again. But, and I can’t believe this even needs to be said, we don’t scrap the entire American system because we’re scared. We don’t start deciding that some people are unworthy of constitutional rights, or else:
JOHNSON: But what [Sen. Lindsey Graham]’s saying is, let’s suspend civil rights and constitutional law.
KILMEADE: For public safety.
JOHNSON: In this particular case and then later we’ll reinstate it. Now, what if someone decides to do that to Brian Kilmeade, or maybe his family?
KILMEADE: What if? I’m not blowing up the subway! I’m not doing it — neither is your family.
JOHNSON.: It’s not the president’s determination nor Senator Graham’s nor anyone else other than a U.S. attorney to decide how someone will charged or will they be charged. I believe in the public safety exception. I believe in doing everything we can to get terrorists. But at the same time, I’m saying: don’t let the terrorists trample our rights going forward.
That’s really the nut of it. Once we decide those rights don’t apply to some people, it’s only a matter of time before we identify some other people who should be excluded, and some others, and some others. Notice how Kilmeade would never consider the idea that this kind of thing might snowball. “Well I’m not going to do anything wrong, so what difference does it make to me?” is the kind of halfwit rationalization that has justified every encroachment on civil liberties we’ve experienced over the history of this nation. Excluding anyone, particular American citizens, from the rights and protections enshrined in the Constitution is contrary to our foundational principles, and there’s simply no need to do it.
This is fear talking. Blind, uncontrollable fear. If it’s not fear on the part of conservative figures themselves (e.g., Kilmeade, or Lindsey Graham’s bizarre focus on clamping down on undocumented immigrants in response to an attack perpetrated by two documented immigrants), then it’s the manipulation of fear in order to generate the desired audience response (see Glenn Beck’s ongoing conspiracy-mongering over the Saudi national who was falsely fingered as the culprit by the New York Post–this strikes me more as a manufactured grift than any real fear on Beck’s part). Islamophobia? Xenophobia? Both, I guess, although Islamphobia basically is a specific form of xenophobia. The Tsarnaev brothers came from a part of the world Americans never think about, even in the normal course of Middle East fear-mongering. They were Muslims, the older brother apparently “radicalized.” They used bombs, which are loud and scary and kill multiple people all at once. They had names, which something something bad. Somewhere in this whole mash of details is the magic detail that made this bombing an act of “terrorism,” where Newtown, Aurora, abortion clinic bombings, even the 2002 beltway sniper case (which does seem to have had some radical Jihadi elements to it), are just “crimes.” This magic dividing line is why the 17 American deaths due to terrorism last year generated vastly more media attention and right-wing interest than the 30,000 or so people who died last year from gun violence. It’s why the attack raises the specter of “illegal immigration” for some on the right despite the fact that our immigration policies literally had nothing to do with this attack; people are just scared of anything foreign.
So, anyway, Brian, have a cookie. If it makes you feel better, the cookie seems scared too.