CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday evening spoke to CNN legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin about Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the Times Square bomb plot and his Miranda rights.
Below is a transcript of the conversation. It has been edited for clarity and length.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: Explain to our viewers about the Miranda rights. He was cooperating, he was answering questions. Then they read him his Miranda rights and now he's still cooperating, Jeffrey. It sounds a little strange - but explain the legal process under way.
Jeffrey Toobin: The Miranda rule says nothing you say can be used against you in court unless you first have been read your Miranda rights.
That doesn't mean that the police can't use the information, that they can't follow leads, that they can't go get search warrants, that they can't use the information that they give you before you get your Miranda warnings.
It just means that if you go to trial, information cannot be used against you.
Now, once he did receive his Miranda rights and the statements that he made afterwards, those certainly would be used against him if he goes to trial.
Blitzer: So as far as you can tell, everything is being done according to the books right now. We heard from law enforcement - the acting FBI director, we heard from Eric Holder, the attorney general - that they were authorized to start asking him questions as soon as they picked up him and effectively arrested them. Then, they eventually read him, formally, the Miranda rights and continued to ask questions.
Toobin: I think the conventional thinking is, when you have a situation involving terrorism, the most important thing is to get the information to stop further events. Then, you worry about Miranda, then you worry about whether information can be used in a subsequent court case.
But, certainly, in a situation like this, which is a rapidly unfolding investigation where there were explosives involved, you certainly would want to get the information first and then worry about its admissibility. It sounds like the government will have its cake and eat it too, here. It got the information and then it got it again post-Miranda warning.
Blitzer: The fact that he's a naturalized U.S. citizen, became a U.S. citizen about a year ago, what, if any, impact does that have as far as the law is concerned as opposed to being a native born American citizen?
Toobin: I think it makes no difference at all. You have no different rights in the criminal justice system whether you are a natural-born citizen or a naturalized citizen. He has all the rights of an American citizen … and will be able to exercise them. It makes no difference.
Blitzer: The fact that he's cooperating might help him as far as the sentence is concerned. But based on what we heard [Attorney General] Eric Holder say earlier, leveling all those charges, it looks like he could get at least life.
Toobin: Well, certainly he could get at least life. But I think that's all he could get.
The Supreme Court has never said specifically that you need to kill someone in order to get the death penalty, but that's certainly been the implication of a lot of Supreme Court opinions over the years and fortunately there were no deaths resulting from this act. So I think it is very likely that the most he could get is life in prison, but certainly given the range of charges against him, life in prison is a real possibility.