(WASHINGTON) — President Obama and his national security team met on Saturday in the wake of Friday night’s dramatic arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect of the terror attack at the Boston Marathon.
The weekend meeting lasted 90 minutes and was attended by FBI Director Robert Mueller, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, CIA director John Brennan, Attorney General Eric Holder and other members of the National Security Council, according to a White House statement.
Vice President Joe Biden joined the Situation Room session via teleconference; Biden traveled to Detroit Saturday for an evening fundraiser for the Michigan Democratic Party.
“The President commended the work that was done to pursue justice in the Boston Marathon bombing, and underscored the need to continue gathering intelligence to answer the remaining questions about this terrorist attack going forward,” the White House statement said.
Federal authorities tell ABC News they are planning to invoke a “public safety exception” with Tsarnaev, which allows for them to engage the naturalized U.S. citizen in limited interrogations when there is a threat of danger to the public, without his being read his Miranda rights.
But as the president met with his council, some Republican lawmakers urged the Obama administration to label Tsarnaev an “enemy combatant” — a legal status – after a habeas hearing – that they say could allow his continued confinement for intelligence gathering.
A statement penned by Rep. Peter King and senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte, and Lindsey Graham said that while they agreed with the decision not to read the suspect his Miranda rights during his arrest, failure to elevate him to an enemy combatant “could severely limit our ability to gather critical information about future attacks.”
“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,” it reads. “That should be our focus, not a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete.”
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