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GOP Lawmakers: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Shoud Be Deemed An Enemy Combatant

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — While the American Civil Liberties Union has taken issue with the decision not to read Boston bombing suspect Dzhkokhar Tsarnaev his Miranda rights, some members of Congress – including U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said the federal government should go farther and declare him an enemy combatant.

King said the public safety exception to Miranda rights now in place will allow authorities to question Tsarnaev for 48 hours without an attorney. He, along with Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), think having the suspect declared an enemy combatant is a better idea, because he can then be questioned without a lawyer for a minimum of 30 days.

King told 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria there are just too many unanswered questions, and the investigators need more time.

“This is an act of war. That’s why he should be held as an enemy combantant,” King said. “The war has spread to the United States, he was captured on this new battlefield, and he should not be given his Miranda warnings.”

As it stands now, U.S. officials have planned for a special interrogation team for high-value suspects would question him without reading him his Miranda rights, invoking a rare public safety exception triggered by the need to protect police and the public from immediate danger.

The exemption – invoked after the attempted bombing of an airliner on Dec. 25, 2009, along with the attempted Times Square bombing in 2010 – gives officials 48 hours to try to extract information before they are required to read Miranda rights.

Limiting the questioning to 48 hours could be a “national security mistake” that could “severely limit our ability to gather critical information about future attacks from this suspect,” the lawmakers said in a statement.

They said the focus should be gathering intelligence from Tsarnaev now, rather than focusing on a criminal trial far off in the future.

But contrary to the Republican lawmakers’ stand, the ACLU said Tsarnaev should have been read his right to an attorney at the time of his arrest, like any other criminal suspect.

“The public safety exception should be read narrowly. It applies only when there is a continued threat to public safety and is not an open-ended exception to the Miranda rule,” ACLU executive director Anthony Romero said in a statement. “Additionally, every criminal defendant has a right to be brought before a judge and to have access to counsel. We must not waver from our tried-and-true justice system, even in the most difficult of times. Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions.”

Tsarnaev was apprehended Friday night after a daylong manhunt that shut down the entire Boston area. His older brother and fellow suspect
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, was killed in a shootout with police the day before.

The pair is suspected in the bombings at the Boston Marathon on Monday, which killed three people and left 176 injured. They are also believed to have shot and killed an MIT police officer on Thursday night.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)