Republican lawmakers urge Obama administration to try surviving Boston bombing suspect as an enemy combatantKaren Greenberg in The New York Post, April 21, 2013
A group of Republican lawmakers said yesterday that they want the Obama administration to consider trying the surviving bombing suspect as an enemy combatant — just like the suspects in the 9/11 attacks.
“It is clear the events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city,” said a statement signed by Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (SC) and Kelly Ayotte (NH), and Rep. Peter King of Long Island.
“The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise, but terrorists trying to injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans.”
“The suspect, based upon his actions, clearly is a good candidate for enemy-combatant status.”
Prosecutors were mum yesterday on their plans to prosecute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, who was nabbed in the Boston area Friday night after an intense manhunt.
But the GOP lawmakers were pleased that the government planned to question Tsarnaev without first reading him his Miranda rights in hope of learning more about whether others were involved in the plot.
They called the decision not to advise Tsarnaev of his right to a lawyer “sound and in our national security interests.”
But legal experts cast doubt on the idea that Tsarnaev, an American citizen, should be tried as an enemy combatant.
“My view is that criminal court is OK for this,” said Doug Burns, a former federal prosecutor.
The rationale for trying suspects as enemy combatants in military tribunals is that they were “seized on the field of battle.”
Burns was confident the courts would ultimately seek the death penalty for the teen, “unless prosecutors conclude that he was compelled by his older brother.”
Karen Greenberg, director of the Center of National Security at Fordham Law School, also said the federal courts are the best place to try him.
She noted the government is having difficulty trying the 166 enemy combatants now held in a prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. “The military commissions are struggling to be able to convict the individuals they are trying to try right now,” she said in an phone interview. “The system is still clogged.”