White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said on Monday that Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not be considered an “enemy combatant” and instead will be processed through the U.S. criminal justice system.
Republicans led by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been calling on the Obama administration to designate Tsarnaev as such but Carney today put the idea to rest. “He will not be treated as an enemy combatant,” Carney said at Monday’s press briefing. “We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice.”
ThinkProgress’ Ian Milhiser has noted that holding Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant is problematic, in part, because that means that he could be held indefinitely if he is not convicted (although the case against him is strong). “To hold the suspect as an enemy combatant under these circumstances would be contrary to our laws and may even jeopardize our efforts to prosecute him for his crimes,” Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) said last week.
Also on Monday, U.S. officials officially brought charges against Tsarnaev. “There has been a sealed complaint filed,” said Gary Wente, circuit executive for the U.S. Courts for the First Circuit, who, according to Reuters, said that a magistrate judge was present when Tsarnaev was charged at his bed in Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
Federal authorities charged Tsarnaev with using a weapon of mass destruction and malicious destruction of property resulting in death. Read the complaint here.