White House: Alleged Boston Marathon bomber to be tried in civilian court

Alexis Levinson | Political Reporter

Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged perpetrator of the Boston Marathon bombing, will not be tried as an enemy combatant, but rather in civilian court, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday.

Since Friday, several Republican lawmakers have called for Tsarnaev to be tried as an enemy combatant, a designation that would not afford him the rights given to a defendant who goes through the criminal justice system. Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Saxby Chambliss, along with Rep. Peter King, urged that the suspected bomber not be read his Miranda rights and be treated as an enemy combatant.

“The suspect, based upon his actions, clearly is a good candidate for enemy combatant status. We do not want this suspect to remain silent,” McCain, Graham, Ayotte and King said in a joint statement Saturday.

“We hope the Obama Administration will consider the enemy combatant option because it is allowed by national security statutes and U.S. Supreme Court decisions,” they added.

Chambliss issued a separate statement.

But Carney said Monday that Tsarnaev “will not be treated as an enemy combatant.”

“We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” Carney said at Monday’s press briefing. “Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions,” Carney said. “And it is important to remember that since 9/11 we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists … The system has repeatedly proven that it can successfully handle the threat that we face.”

“So this is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go, and when it comes to United States citizens, it is against the law to try them as enemy combatants,” Carney added.

Tsarnaev was not immediately read his Miranda Rights following his arrest, with law enforcement citing the public safety exception, which, according to the FBI website, provides that: “police officers confronting situations that create a danger to themselves or others may ask questions designed to neutralize the threat without first providing a warning of rights.”

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