Lindsey Graham Calls For Boston Bombing Suspect To Be Held As 'Enemy Combatant'

Lindsey Graham Makes Controversial Call On 'Enemy Combatant'

UPDATE: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was captured on Friday in Watertown, Mass. Read more about the standoff that led to his apprehension here.


Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested on Friday that the Obama administration should toss the court system and Constitution out the window when handling the missing suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

In a series of tweets that came hours after it was revealed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect at large in the Boston marathon bombings, is a United States citizen, Graham urged the Obama administration to nevertheless consider treating him as an enemy combatant. The legal status has been used largely for members of al Qaeda and associated forces held at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, military facility and elsewhere. Graham also suggested that the Obama administration should use a drone to track any suspects in the case.

America is “a battlefield because the terrorists think it is,” Graham told The Washington Post. “It sure would be nice to have a drone up there.”

Graham's tweets were just as provocative:

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Dzhokhar's brother who also was a suspect in Monday's fatal attack, was killed Friday morning while on the run from police. No one, so far, has offered any evidence of a direct connection between either brother and al Qaeda, and at least one legal expert said the Obama administration simply wouldn't consider the status change for Tsarnaev. The administration has, however, maintained that it can delay reading a Miranda warning to terrorists in exceptional cases.

The Obama administration has repeatedly refused to hold recent high-profile terrorist captures under military law. Both the so-called underwear bomber and Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden's son-in-law were charged under civilian law. Neither was a U.S. citizen.

The administration also has stated that it would waive the use of enemy combatant status as it is described in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 in a wide variety of circumstances.

"The current administration has a firm and publicly stated policy against using military detention for domestic captures or U.S. citizens. So whatever the (National Defense Authorization Act) may theoretically authorize or tolerate, it doesn't affect this situation," wrote Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow and research director in public law at the Brookings Institution.

The Obama administration may nevertheless feel politically pressured to charge the remaining suspect under military law, just as it did after the underwear bomber's failed attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound plane.

Zeke Johnson, the director of Amnesty International USA's Security with Human Rights Campaign, said that would be a lamentable response to the Boston bombing.

"Fear mongering is always the wrong response to tragedy. The right thing to do is fulfill the rights of victims and bring those responsible to justice through a fair trial," Johnson said.

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