OVERNIGHT DEFENSE: Obama opts against enemy combatant status for Boston bombing suspect

Tsarnaev was also read his Miranda rights on Monday, a step that hawks like Graham did not want the administration to take.

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Graham and other Republicans have said, however, that they support the legal argument that Tsarnaev should be tried in federal court because he is an American citizen.

They say that the enemy combatant status is important for intelligence purposes, warning that giving Tsarnaev access to an attorney could lead to lost intelligence, as he is not entitled to a lawyer under military detention.

Some legal experts, however, say that Tsarnaev cannot be placed under military detention even if the administration wanted to, because he is not part of al Qaeda or an associated force, the designations made in the Authorization for the Use of Military Force.

Terror group denies ties to Boston bombers: Leaders of the primary Islamist militant sect in central Russia are denying any ties to the two U.S. citizens suspected of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombings. 

In a statement issued on Sunday, the Command of the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate said the terror group had never trained, met or made contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, one of the two brothers suspected in last week's terror attack, who died early Friday in a police chase. 

"There are speculative assumptions that he may have been associated with the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate, in particular with the Mujahideen of Dagestan," according an online statement issued by the group. 

"The Caucasian Mujahideen are not fighting against the United States of America. We are at war with Russia, which is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for heinous crimes against Muslims," it adds. 

The younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was charged Monday with using a weapon of mass destruction to kill three people and injure more than 200 during the Boston attack. 

FBI agents questioned the older Tsarnaev brother in 2011 after his visit to Russia raised a number of red flags among intelligence officials in the country. 

"Even in respect to the enemy state of Russia, which is fighting the Caucasus Emirate, there is an order ... which prohibits strikes on civilian targets," the group says, noting the Boston attack would have violated that order. 

"In this regard, the Command of the Mujahideen of the Province of Dagestan urges the media, primarily the American, to halt speculations and promotion of Russian propaganda," they added. 

Established in 2007, the group with loose ties to al Qaeda is battling Russian forces in an attempt to establish a Muslim state in Chechnya. 

House gets Boston briefing Tuesday: House members will be given a briefing on the Boston attacks on Tuesday evening, according to congressional sources.

The briefing will be open to all House members and is classified.

This is the second briefing the full House has received related to the Boston attacks; the marathon bombing became part of a classified briefing last week led by FBI Director Robert Mueller and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

There are a host of questions lawmakers are likely to have about the attack and investigation of the suspects, from the eldest brother’s trip to Russia to the way he slipped through the intelligence cracks to the younger brother's prosecution and interrogation in federal courts.

Hagel in Israel: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel kept up his efforts to get back in Republicans' good graces by reaffirming Washington's commitment to Israel during a visit to the country this week. 

Hagel said that Washington remains in lockstep with Israel in that country's efforts to thwart Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.

"Israelis understand that Iran is not just a threat to Israel," Hagel said during a joint press conference with Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon on Monday. "It's really a threat to the peace in the world, for no reason whatsoever," he said of Tehran's nuclear ambitions. 

His visit to Israel was part of a week-long goodwill trip to various U.S. allies in the Mideast, with scheduled stops in Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. 

Hagel's comments come months after congressional Republicans bashed the DOD chief for his positions on Israel and Iran during February's Senate confirmation hearings.

Since then, Hagel “has made a concerted effort to [build] ... good relationships with Congress,” a senior defense official told The Hill earlier this month. 

That charm offensive by the Defense Department to Congress, which continued in Israel with the Pentagon chief's comments on Iran, has already seemed to pay dividends. 

“I feel very good about him at this point ... I like his demeanor, I like what he says, and I like the way he he’s acting” as Defense secretary, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said last week. 


In Case You Missed It: 

— Al Qaeda terror plot in Canada foiled

— Graham calls for more FBI authorities to track terror suspects 

— Boehner defends lawmakers' efforts on Benghazi

— Hagel strengthens GOP ties with Israel trip


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