Sens. Graham and McCain already jumped the gun Saturday, calling the terrorist an enemy combatant and suggesting in that WMD way that he was connected to terrorist cells.
In a statement, Republican Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (joined by Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Congressman Peter King (R-NY)) called for the Boston suspect to be declared an enemy combatant. Their statement, in part, reads:
“The suspect, based upon his actions, clearly is a good candidate for enemy combatant status. We do not want this suspect to remain silent.
“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.
“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.
“We should be focused on gathering intelligence from this suspect right now that can help our nation understand how this attack occurred and what may follow in the future. That should be our focus, not a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete.
“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.
“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.”
In other words, Republicans still believe that being “tough on terror” requires violating our laws and they somehow still take their own beliefs seriously, in spite of their abysmal record of failure. This is a grasping attempt, once again, to reclaim national security for the Republican Party by suggesting that the only way we can be safe is to not follow our own laws. Luckily, our President doesn’t agree with them.
Graham was also on Fox News Saturday, WMD-ing his way into auto-conflation (my bold):
“Ask the people in Boston. Radical jihadists are trying to attack us here at home. Every day we face threats from radical Islamists and they are coming through our back yard and trying to radicalize American citizens,” the senator said. “The reason we wanted to capture him alive is find out about the attack and find out who he trained with and what connections to … terrorism.”
Nifty trick, “The reason we wanted to capture him alive is find out about the attack and find out who he trained with and what connections to … terrorism.” See, Graham presents this as if there is no question about IF the suspect trained with anyone, it’s presented as a given. But that has not been proven, and in fact, the Boston Police say otherwise.
While Graham was on Fox fear-mongering, Boston police chief Ed Deveau told CNN Saturday that he is confident that there are no other suspects: “From what I know right now, these two acted together and alone,” he said. “As far as this little cell and this little group, I think we got our guys.”
Just as with Libya, it will take time to know the facts. It’s true that the FBI had interviewed Tamerlan in 2011.
“The request stated that it was based on information that he was a follower of radical Islam and a strong believer, and that he had changed drastically since 2010 as he prepared to leave the United States for travel to the country’s region to join unspecified underground groups,” the FBI statement said.
The matter was closed when the FBI “did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign.”
But it is also true that they may have very well acted alone, as law enforcement has indicated at this early stage in the investigation. Patiently waiting to collect the facts is not the forte of Republican war hawks. McCain and Graham are trying once again to Weapons of Mass Destruction Americans into conflating an act of terror with a person/country/group that is unproven at this point.
Under Republican leadership, we never got Osama bin Laden, so it’s ironic that they present their approach as if it will lead to success and anyone who doesn’t agree is weak. They’re desperately trying to paint Obama as soft on terrorism, when in fact it is their party that wears the failed “Mission Accomplished” banner. Lastly and most ironically, were we to follow their approach and treat the suspect as an enemy combatant, he would not have to talk to law enforcement at all.
That point may be moot, as the suspect is reportedly barely clinging to life.
Don’t let Republicans use an act of terror to fear-monger into unproven conflations again. Just say no to WMD.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.