Investigators believe that two brothers suspected in the Boston Marathon bombing were likely planning other attacks based on the cache of weapons uncovered, the city’s police commissioner told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on today.
As Boston-area residents came together in prayer and reflection after a tumultuous week, the lone surviving suspect in the bombing lay hospitalized under heavy guard apparently in no shape for interrogation.
What 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will say and when are unclear. He remained in serious condition two days after being pulled bloody and wounded from a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard. The capture came at the end of a tense Friday that began with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, dying in a gun battle with police.
Federal prosecutors are working on bringing charges but there was no immediate word on when Tsarnaev might be charged and what those charges would be. The twin bombings killed three people and wounded more than 180.
The most serious charge available to federal prosecutors would be the use of a weapon of mass destruction to kill people, which carries a possible death sentence. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer that authorities found an arsenal of homemade explosives after Friday’s gun battle between police and the two suspects.
“We have reason to believe, based upon the evidence that was found at that scene – the explosions, the explosive ordnance that was unexploded and the firepower that they had – that they were going to attack other individuals,” Davis said. “That’s my belief at this point.”
The scene of the gun battle was loaded with unexploded bombs, and authorities had to alert arriving officers to them and clear the scene, Davis said. One improvised explosive device was found in the Mercedes the brothers are accused of carjacking, he said.
“This was as dangerous as it gets in urban policing,” Davis said.
U.S. officials said the elite interrogation team would question Tsarnaev, a Massachusetts college student, without reading him his Miranda rights, which guarantees the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney.
“In a case when there are exigent circumstances — public safety is involved,” explained CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, the government can invoke the exception to determine, “Are there other explosives? Is there another plot to blow something up? Are there other people?”
American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony Romero said the legal exception applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is “not an open-ended exception” to the Miranda rule.
The federal public defender’s office in Massachusetts said it has agreed to represent Tsarnaev once he is charged. Miriam Conrad, public defender for Massachusetts, said he should have a lawyer appointed as soon as possible because there are “serious issues regarding possible interrogation.”
In a statement, several GOP lawmakers – Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. – called the decision not to immediately Mirandize Tsarnaev “sound and in our national security interests.” However, they expressed concern that “exclusively relying on the public safety exception to Miranda could very well be a national security mistake. It could severely limit our ability to gather critical information about future attacks from this suspect.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said Sunday that surveillance video from Monday’s Boston Marathon attack shows Dzhokhar Tsarnaev dropping his backpack and calmly walking away from it before the bomb inside it exploded.
Patrick also said that he has no idea what motivated the suspects. Speaking on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Patrick said it’s hard to imagine why someone would deliberately harm “innocent men, women and children in the way that these two fellows did.”
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