Graham on Twitter: Treat Bomb Suspect as Enemy Combatant

Saturday, 20 Apr 2013 10:40 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham wants the Obama administration to treat suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant rather than hold a traditional criminal trial.

“I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes,” the South Carolina senator said in a series of Twitter posts Friday night, prior to the teen's capture.

Related: No Miranda Rights for Boston Terror Suspect

The enemy combatant status is generally used for members of al Qaeda and other forces, which allows them to be held indefinitely for questioning.

Graham also said the Obama administration should use drones to track down any other suspects in the case.

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

Tsarnaev became a U.S. citizen last year, making the case more complicated. His older brother, Tamerlan Tsamaev, 26, who was killed Friday in a shootout with police, held a green card but was not an American citizen. Legal experts do not believe the Obama administration will change the younger brother's criminal status, even though it has maintained that Miranda warnings can be delayed for certain terrorism suspects.

However, the Obama administration has refused to hold other terrorism suspects under enemy combatant status, including suspects like underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was not a U.S. citizen.

"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," said Benjamin Wittes, senior fellow and research director in public law at the Brookings Institution.

While there has been no definite, direct evidence presented to link the brothers to al Qaeda, Graham said the Obama administration needs to take care when dealing with the incident.

“The Obama Administration needs to be contemplating these issues and should not rush into a bad decision,” Graham tweeted.

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