Graham: Hold bombing suspect, if captured, as ‘enemy combatant’

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamShutdown risk grows over Flint Senate poised to override Obama veto Overnight Defense: Debate night is here | Senate sets vote on 9/11 veto override | Kerry, McCain spar over Syria MORE (R-S.C.) said Friday that the Obama administration should consider detaining the man suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon as an “enemy combatant,” even though the suspect is reportedly an American citizen.

Graham said in a series of tweets Friday afternoon that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be held as an enemy combatant for intelligence purposes and not read his Miranda rights.

ADVERTISEMENT
“If captured, I hope Administration will at least consider holding the Boston suspect as enemy combatant for intelligence gathering purposes,” Graham tweeted.

“The last thing we may want to do is read Boston suspect Miranda Rights telling him to ‘remain silent,’ ” Graham said in a follow-up tweet.

Graham’s comments signal that the fight over how the Obama administration prosecutes the war on terrorism is poised to be re-ignited by the Boston attack.

Graham and other foreign policy hawks have fought to give the military the ability to detain terror suspects with ties to al Qaeda, even if they are captured on U.S. soil or are American citizens. 

They have been upset at the Obama administration prosecuting terrorism suspects like the "underwear bomber" in federal court, rather than in a military tribunal as a member of al Qaeda. 

They argue that the war on terror makes America part of the battlefield and say that terrorists should not be given more incentive to attack on U.S. soil with due process protections, rather than overseas.

“I think the administration is criminalizing the war,” Graham told reporters on Tuesday.

But Democrats and libertarians warn that not subjecting U.S. citizens to their due process rights — even if they have committed acts of terrorism — would violate the U.S. Constitution.

“If you take them for an event on American territory, yes, I believe it should be a federal court,” Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinThis week: Shutdown deadline looms over Congress Week ahead: Election hacks, Yahoo breach in the spotlight Overnight Tech: Pressure builds ahead of TV box vote | Intel Dems warn about Russian election hacks | Spending bill doesn't include internet measure MORE (D-Calif.) told The Hill this week.

“First of all, the federal courts have had the record of success, with probably 400 successful prosecutions. The military commission has less than a half-dozen successes,” she said.

Law enforcement officials are searching for Tsarneav, 19, in connection with the attack after his brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was killed during a firefight.

There were reports Friday that Tsarneav became a citizen in September 2012.

There was outrage over the 2012 Defense authorization bill out of concerns from civil libertarians that the legislation allowed for the indefinite detention of American citizens.

The issue was also at the heart of the filibuster earlier this year by Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulGOP senators hit FBI on early probe of NY bombing suspect Conservative group presses GOP to vote against spending bill Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress MORE (R-Ky.), who wanted assurances from the Obama administration that it would not use drones to attack Americans on U.S. soil.

Graham and Sen. John McCainJohn McCainNBC's Lester Holt emerges from debate bruised and partisan Pundits react: Clinton won first debate Overnight Defense: Debate night is here | Senate sets vote on 9/11 veto override | Kerry, McCain spar over Syria MORE (R-Ariz.) blasted Paul for his filibuster.

On Friday, Graham told The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin that the attack on Monday was “exhibit A” of why the homeland is the battlefield.

“It’s a battlefield because the terrorists think it is,” Graham said.