Boston Bombing Suspect Won’t Be Charged As ‘Enemy Combatant’


boston-bomber-dzhokhar-tsarnaevDzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the Boston bombings, has been charged while recovering in his hospital bed. The federal complaint was filed under seal, but White House press secretary Jay Carney says Tsarnaev won’t be tried as an enemy combatant.

“Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions,” Carney told reporters.

Sen. Lindsey Graham and other Republicans have been pushing for enemy combatant status.

Carney said today that Tsarnaev will not be classified as an “enemy combatant,” despite pressure from some congressional Republicans to do so. Speaking during his daily press briefing, his first since the Boston bombing, Carney said Tsarnaev will be tried in civilian court.

Democrats, along with at least one leading voice of the GOP’s libertarian wing, have resisted the “enemy combatant” argument.

Tsarnaev has not been read Miranda rights, but so far the stated justification is the so-called Public Safety Exception, which allows law enforcement to delay Mirandizing a suspect until it can be determined whether he or she knows of further threats to public safety. Tsarnaev is communicating in a limited fashion with investigators, but remains in serious condition and has a gunshot wound to the throat, authorities said.

Given Tsarnaev was a U.S. citizen engaged in terrorism on home soil, there continues to be disagreement about whether he can be held as an enemy combatant – a term generally used for someone acting on behalf of a state with which the United States is at war.

Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) said Sunday that he agrees with Graham, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), and Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) that Tsarnaev shouldn’t be read his Miranda rights – at least for now.

But Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the ranking Democrat on the House homeland security committee, said on “This Week” that while he agrees that Tsarnaev shouldn’t have been Mirandized when apprehended, he also said he should not be held as an enemy combatant.

Asked whether the man should be held as an enemy combatant, though, Thompson said “no.”

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) agreed, saying Sunday that Tsarnaev was not eligible for enemy combatant status.

“I do not believe under the military commission law that he is eligible for that,” she said on “Fox News Sunday.” “It would be unconstitutional to do that.”

{Andy Newscenter}