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Sen. Lindsey Graham continued his push to hold the surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect as an enemy combatant Monday afternoon, even after the Justice Department unveiled federal criminal charges.
The suspect “will not be treated as an enemy combatant,” according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
The latest campaign by the South Carolina Republican to have an individual associated with terrorism held as an enemy combatant began on Twitter the afternoon of April 19, in the midst of the massive manhunt for Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev.
Since then, Graham has led an effort with several other Republicans to push against offering Miranda rights and a guarantee of counsel to Tsarnaev, who reportedly became an American citizen last year.
“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,” Graham said in an April 20 joint statement with his GOP kindred spirits Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and John McCain of Arizona, with a guest appearance by Rep. Peter T. King, R-N.Y.
Graham has made repeated TV and radio appearances since April 19 to get attention for his point of view, although the Justice Department is clearly taking a different course, announcing that it had filed criminal charges Monday in U.S. District Court in Boston.
“We hope that this prosecution will bring some small measure of comfort both to the public at large and to the victims and their families that justice will be served,” U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement. “While we will not be able to comment on any possible communications between the suspect and law enforcement at this time, as a general rule, the government will always seek to elicit all the actionable intelligence and information we can from terrorist suspects taken into our custody.”
Graham said that he was well aware that information obtained during an interrogation outside the traditional criminal justice process would not permit statements to be admissible in a civilian court, but he said that the evidence in place is so substantial that a “first year law student” could secure a conviction in this case.
“It is imperative that we have time with this suspect, not to prove his guilt or innocence — there’s ample evidence of that — but to gather intelligence as to what he may know about terrorist organizations” or other individuals who may be plotting attacks on the United States, Graham told reporters.