(WASHINGTON) — The surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, will not be tried as an enemy combatant, the White House said Monday.
“He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters. “Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11, we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists.”
Tsarnaev, 19, although born in Kyrgyzstan, is a naturalized U.S. citizen. Several lawmakers, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., called for his designation as an enemy combatant after his apprehension Friday. But others argued that such a designation was unnecessary.
“The effective use of the criminal justice system has resulted in the interrogation, conviction and detention of both U.S. citizens and noncitizens for acts of terrorism committed inside the United States and around the world. The system has repeatedly proven that it can successfully handle the threat that we continue to face,” Carney said, citing Times Square attempted-bomber Faisal Shahzad, underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and others as examples.
“This is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go,” he said. “And when it comes to United States citizens, it is against the law to try them in military commissions.”
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John Newsome and Anne Woolsey, CNN