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Tsarnaev is charged — but not as enemy combatant

Tsarnaev is charged -- but not as enemy combatant

White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed today that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was charged in front of a federal magistrate judge at the hospital with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill and injure, would not be treated as an enemy combatant. (See the full criminal complaint below).

“This is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go,” Carney said.

Absolutely the right way? I remember the days when the left was lecturing everyone about the complexity of these sorts of situations — no black and white, no good or evil, and so on.

Now, I tend to be in the Rand Paul camp on enemy combatants, which is to say once ‘the battlefield is everywhere’ there are few limitations on government power. For those who believe in due process, the implication of arresting an American citizen indefinitely should be carefully considered.

However,  the administration’s certitude makes me nervous, as well. The question is how did these brothers become radicalized, and more importantly, did they have any links to terror networks – either here or abroad. It is clear that the Tsarnaevs were mobilized by Islamic theology, so they were linked to the terror movement ideology and purpose. Terrorist don’t need to work in the same office building, or be on the Monday morning conference call, to be working “together.” But is that enough?

U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte and Congressman Peter King have been advocating to have Tsarnaev charged as an enemy combatant. Some of their reasoning:

* American citizens who take up arms against our nation or collaborate with our enemies have been held as enemy combatants. This is well-established principle of American jurisprudence and authorized by congressional statute. (“There is no bar to this Nation’s holding one of its own citizens as enemy combatant.” — Supreme Court decision Hamdi v Rumsfeld)

* Criminal domestic law is focused on solving a crime. The Law of War is focused on protecting our national security.

* An enemy combatant held under the Law of War is not entitled to Miranda rights or appointment of counsel.

* The questioning of an enemy combatant for national security purposes has no limit on time or scope. In a case like this it could take weeks to prepare the questions that are needed to be asked and months before intelligence gathering is completed.

What if the administration is wrong and its blown an opportunity to gather intelligence on terrorist groups radicalizing and training American citizens to blow pressure cookers filled with nails at sporting events? No doubt, we’ll learn more about the personal history of these terrorists in the coming weeks.

(Here is the criminal complaint via Reason)

Criminal complaint against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev 

 

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Follow David Harsanyi on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

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