Washington: Chechen-origin Dzhokar Tsarnev who was arrested last night on alleged charges of being responsible for the Boston marathon bombing, should be considered as an enemy combatant, top Republican lawmakers said Sunday.
The senators - John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Kelly Ayotte - and Congressman Peter King in a joint statement supported the move of the Obama Administration not to read Miranda rights to the suspect after he was arrested, but opposed its decision to rely on public safety exception to Dzhokar.
"The public safety exception is a domestic criminal law doctrine that allows questioning of a criminal suspect without Miranda warnings for a limited time and purpose. 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," the senators said in a joint statement.
"We continue to face threats from radical Islamists in small cells and large groups throughout the world. They have, as their primary focus, killing as many Americans as possible, preferably within the United States. We must never lose sight of this fact and act appropriately within our laws and values," the senators said.
Senator Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also supported such a move.
"I urge this administration to do the right thing and deem this suspect as an enemy combatant so that we get as much intelligence as legally possible before the suspect is mirandised," he said in a separate statement.
"Given what we know, and more importantly don`t know, about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother, this terrorist should be fully interrogated as an enemy combatant before any consideration is given to providing Miranda warnings," Saxby said, expressing his disappointment over the decision of the Obama Administration in this regard.
"This is not an ordinary criminal case, and a brief interrogation under that exception is wholly insufficient. Our courts, including the Supreme Court, allow detaining and interrogating terrorism suspects as enemy combatants, regardless of citizenship, and there is no reason to not follow that precedent here," Saxby said.
Applauding law enforcement for their hard work and bravery in Boston, the three senators and a Congressman said it is clear the events seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city.
"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. We do not want this suspect to remain silent," they said.
"We are encouraged our High value detainee
interrogation team (HIG) is now involved and working to gather intelligence about how these terrible acts were committed and possibility of future attacks. A decision to not read Miranda rights to the suspect was sound and in our national security interests," they said.
"However, we have concerns that limiting this investigation to 48 hours and 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," the senators said.