King: Boston Bombing Suspect Should Get Enemy Combatant Status

Suspect No. 2
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested Friday night and is suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon. (Photo: FBI)
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested Friday night and is suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon. (Photo: FBI)

Congressman Peter King (R-Seaford) joined three other top Republican lawmakers Saturday urging the Obama Administration to label the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing an enemy combatant.

“It is clear the events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city,” King said in a joint statement with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), regarding 19-year-old Dzhokar Tsarnaev, who was taken into custody late Friday after a confrontation with police in Watertown, Mass.

“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 statement continued. “The suspect, based upon his actions, clearly is a good candidate for enemy combatant status. We do not want this suspect to remain silent.”

Tsarnaev, or “Suspect 2,” as the nation came to know him during Friday’s manhunt, was not read his Miranda Rights after he was taken into custody following a lengthy standoff with police. Instead, law enforcement officials decided to use a public safety exception, which is “triggered when police officers have an objectively reasonable need to protect the police or the public from immediate danger,” according to the FBI’s website.

FBI updates it's Wanted flier to "captured."
FBI updates it’s Wanted flyer to “captured.”

The public safety exemption allows law enforcement to interrogate the suspect without Miranda warnings.

“A decision to not read Miranda rights to the suspect was sound and in our national security interests,” the lawmakers said in their statement. “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.”

They added: “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.”

Tsarnaev’s older brother, Tamerlan, 26, was killed in a shootout with police early Friday morning.