Justice Department Will Not Try Boston Bomber as an Enemy Combatant

Tsarnaev brothers

Much to the chagrin of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ), the White House announced yesterday that the Justice Department would not try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing:

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill three people and injure more than 200, would be tried as a terrorist in the federal court system.

“This is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go,” Carney said at Monday’s White House press briefing.

Carney said the department of Justice and Attorney General Eric Holder, as well the entire national security team, support not trying the terror suspect as an enemy combatant.

You can read the complaint against Tsarnaev here and the transcript from the court hearing held in his hospital room yesterday here.

Graham, McCain, and other Senators believe that Tsarnaev should not be read his Miranda rights and instead be held as an enemy combatant so that interrogators can gather more information about any other explosives he may have left, any affiliations with foreign terrorist organizations, and the possibility of other attacks.

Law enforcement were free to hold Tsarnaev through the “public safety exemption” provided that they didn’t submit any of his statements as evidence in the court case against him. As mentioned, Tsarnaev is an American citizen and, despite terrible crimes he’s alleged to have committed, is entitled to the right of due process.

While we may feel more vulnerable to acts of terrorism inside the United States in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, the push to have Tsarnaev detained and denied due process highlights the danger of the “indefinite detention” language of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which allows an administration to hold American citizens merely on suspicion that they are a terrorist.

We cannot continue to put our liberties on the line because of fear and intimidation. The crimes Tsarnaev is alleged to have committed were indeed terrible, but he should have his day in court just like any other accused murderer.


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