CSI, Boston

Here is a fascinating account of the police work that led to the identification and apprehension of the Boston Marathon bombers:  Police, citizens and technology factor into Boston bombing probe – The Washington Post.

The legal issue now is whether “Jahar,” the surviving terrorist, should be considered an “enemy combatant” or whether he should be given all of the legal rights to which he is entitled  as an American citizen, including the right to remain silent.  What do you think?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • tODD

    I thought American citizens don’t have any rights if they have connections to the countries on the Bad List. It’s somewhere in the Constitution. Ask Lindsey Graham.

  • fjsteve

    What’s the point? So we can use “enemy combatant” status as a way to bypass the civil rights afforded in the criminal justice system? I think that’s a dangerous precedent. If it’s information they’re looking for, I don’t think they’ll have a difficult time finding it even if he does clam up. The kid’s clearly not a mastermind. I’m sure he left electronic clues all over the place.

  • SKPeterson

    I’m probably going out on a limb here, but Lindsey Graham seems to be the sort who opposes “hate crime” laws, but sees no contradiction in opposing those and advocating for “enemy combatant” status being applied to citizens according to the motivation for a crime and nor for the act itself.

  • SKPeterson

    I should also say that saying somebody is “entitle” to their rights subtly implies that those rights are granted and not inherent. We have rights that are “endowed” to us as human beings as part of our nature; they cannot be separated from us without diminishing us. Entitlements are conferrences of eligibility for things given to us that can be rescinded – they are not permanent and inherent.

  • Kirk

    Trying him as an enemy combatant would perpetuate the disturbing disregard for due process that our leaders have demonstrated over the past decade-ish. I understand the desire to protect lives and glean as much information from terrorism suspects, but I don’t think it should be done at the expense of basic civil liberties. Jahar, dangerous and reprehensible though he may be, is an American citizen that committed crimes on American soil and was apprehended by American law enforcement officials. There’s no grey area afforded by capture on foreign soil by the military. It seems so cut and dry to me that it’s frankly mind-boggling that there’s even a debate.

  • fws

    That this debate is even happening scares me.

    why not treat ALL persons,with the same due process if they are on our land?

  • Steve Billingsley

    Due Process – including the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer.
    I don’t see any grey area here – he is an American citizen – caught on American soil – accused of a horrible crime. He should be tried accordingly.

    I understand the desire to learn about possible accomplices, connections to terror cells – etc.

    But that can either be accomplished (or not accomplished) with the resources available within our legal system.

  • Hanni

    It’s reproving to see people support our rule of law. Shocking what the goby proposes

  • DonS

    The remaining terrorist is, by all accounts, at minimum a legal resident and probably a citizen of the U.S., having been granted his citizenship on 9/11/12, ironically.

    As a legal resident, and especially as a citizen, he is entitled to Constitutional due process, and all of the rights protected by the Bill of Rights. The so-called “public safety exception”, to the extent it is applicable, only applies to address an immediate potential remaining danger to the public. Once that danger has been resolved, the exception no longer applies. Public officials have acknowledged that there is no known remaining immediate danger to the public from this particular detainee, having made announcements to that effect.

    Even under the framework of Constitutional protections, there is still plenty of opportunity to explore any connections between this defendant and terrorist organizations. It may involve plea agreements or an offer of immunized testimony with regard to certain questions (they already have plenty to charge him with), but there are ways of legally interrogating him to find out if he was working only with his brother or also with others. The price we pay for our liberties is that they must be protected even when doing so might be inconvenient to government, or when it might even raise the long-term risk to others. We do not want government having the power to determine that our rights are revocable based merely upon an assertion that public safety demands it.

    I will not go so far as FWS, however, in stating that “… ALL persons, [should be treated]with the same due process if they are on our land”. No such protections should be available to those here illegally for the purpose of doing us harm. Nazi saboteurs during WWII were not given Constitutional protections, and I don’t think anyone here would seriously argue with that outcome.

  • Kirk
  • SKPeterson

    So he’s being charged in federal courtwith using a “weapon of mass destruction.” That’s a little over the top, in my opinion. Sure it is a bomb and people were killed – is that not a criminal offense in the state of Massachusetts? What if he had taken his car and driven at 100+ mph into the crowd and run over and killed 7 or 8 people and wounding scores of others. Would the use of the automobiles also be considered a weapon of mass destruction? That sort of makes a complete mockery of the WMD excuse for invading Iraq – as I recall, the charges against Saddam Hussein were, you know, possessing chemical weapons, developing nukes, that sort of mass destruction, not pressure cooker IEDs or even possessing large capacity magazines for assault rifles.

    This is an example of the over-federalization of criminal offenses – everything is now potentially a federal offense. Such a step is inimical to both the rule of law and to the 10th Amendment.

  • fjsteve

    SKP, what if he had opened fire in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater and killed 12 people and injured 58 others? Would he be charged with using a WMD?

  • Random Lutheran

    I’m sure the Federal charges are so that he will be up for the death penalty; Massachusetts does not have one. Many times federal charges such as these are filed to make sure that they don’t slip through the state court system. Overreach? Sure. But I’m far more concerned when such happens in lower-profile cases; in a well-known, well-documented case like this, however, it helps pacify public sentiment.

  • kerner

    So many issues, so little time.

    1. With the exception of prisoners of war, or the covert agents of a foreign power, anyone on our soil, legally or not, is entitled to Constitutional protections and due process. There should be no question that American Citizens are entitled to these.

    2. The right to a lawyer prior to interrogation affects the admissibility (against the accused) of the statements obtained without a lawyer, but not the case itself. In other words, the FBI can question Mr. Tsarnaev without a lawyer or Miranda warnings all they want to, but they must know that they will not be able to use any statements they obtain from that interrogation, nor any evidence derived from those statements, against Mr. Tsarnaev. But I am pretty sure they could use that evidence against anyone else. So, an important question is whether the government’s case is sufficiently strong such that it does not need a confession to “sew it up”. If they aren’t going to use his statements against HIM, I am pretty sure the feds can interrogate him all day long in an attempt to obtain intelligence about other people.

    3. As for his American citizenship, either he has it or he doesn’t. Like being pregnant, how recently citizenship is obtained does not matter. Citizenship DOES open up Mr. Tsarnaev to a charge of treason, however, that would not otherwise be available.

    4. I don’t know the legal definition of “weapon of mass destruction”, but there almost certainly is one if anyone has time to look it up. Whether the bomb(s) used by the Tsarnaev brothers meet that definition will depend on what that definition is.

  • Tom Hering

    From the FBI’s WMD page:

    Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are defined in US law (18 USC §2332a) as: (A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title (i.e. explosive device); (B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors; (C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title); (D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life.

  • Tom Hering

    Section 921 of 18 USC:

    (4) The term “destructive device” means -
    (A) any explosive, incendiary, or poison gas -
    (i) bomb,
    (ii) grenade,
    (iii) rocket having a propellant charge of more than four
    ounces,
    (iv) missile having an explosive or incendiary charge of more
    than one-quarter ounce,
    (v) mine, or
    (vi) device similar to any of the devices described in the
    preceding clauses;
    (B) any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell
    which the Attorney General finds is generally recognized as
    particularly suitable for sporting purposes) by whatever name
    known which will, or which may be readily converted to, expel a
    projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant, and
    which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in
    diameter; and
    (C) any combination of parts either designed or intended for
    use in converting any device into any destructive device
    described in subparagraph (A) or (B) and from which a destructive
    device may be readily assembled.
    The term “destructive device” shall not include any device which is
    neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon; any device,
    although originally designed for use as a weapon, which is
    redesigned for use as a signaling, pyrotechnic, line throwing,
    safety, or similar device; surplus ordnance sold, loaned, or given
    by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to the provisions of section
    4684(2), 4685, or 4686 of title 10; or any other device which the
    Attorney General finds is not likely to be used as a weapon, is an
    antique, or is a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for
    sporting, recreational or cultural purposes.

  • SKPeterson

    So, basically WMD is whatever isn’t a handgun, rifle or other hand weapon like a knife, axe or sword. Yeah, I got a problem with that.

  • Tom Hering

    The term “destructive device” shall not include … a rifle which the owner intends to use solely for sporting, recreational or cultural purposes. (Emphases added)

    So a rifle which the owner intends to use for home defense could be considered a WMD? Interesting if so.

  • fjsteve

    So basically the definition of WMD is vague enough that it can be used in any homicide or attempted homicide case where it’s politically expedient.

  • Joe

    We should also be concerned about that the complete and utter violation of the 4th amendment that occurred as the looked for this guy. Here is some video the Law Enforcement (not sure which agencies – although at least one guy appears to be in an Army uniform) forcing the residents out of their home at gun point and sending them down the block where they are detained while the officers search their home. They did this to entire sections of the city, claiming exigent circumstances (i.e hot pursuit ) allowed them to enter homes without a warrant. We should be very concerned that the gov’t thinks it can apply an exception to the 4th amendment to an entire city. There was no hot pursuit. They were not actively following his trail. They lost his trail and were searching in desperation. This is not America.

  • Tom Hering

    This is not America. (@ 20)

    It is now. And a pretty good illustration of how your 2nd Amendment rights will do you no good should we ever be faced with a full-blown police state and tyranny.

  • kerner

    Tom:

    On the contrary. The thing that is being overlooked is how ineffective the police state tactics were. Those heavily armed nimrods spent all day violating the Constitution and couldn’t catch a cold. The terrorist was caught because a citizen who went outside and looked around his backyard and saw some blood.

  • Tom Hering

    I’ve already agreed with your analysis in comments I’ve made in other threads. But anyone who had brandished or fired a weapon in defense of their liberty would have been found real quick.

  • trotk

    Tom, you are thinking about it incorrectly. Two guys with small arms and homemade bombs a.) killed and injured lots of people, b.) shut down Boston, and c.) evaded an army of officers, and were only captured when a ordinary citizen helped out.

    The point is that small arms are incredibly effective. Maybe not ultimately so, when faced with the unlimited firepower of the government, but they are disproportionally effective. The police know this, which is why they arrive in body armor and use robots. One man with a couple guns can do a lot of damage. California, Colorado, Connecticut – all of these situations reveal that if every home had weapons, and if all of those people decided to turn against the police, the government would be in real trouble. The police wins these battles by putting 50 or 100 or 1000 men with military grade weapons up against 1 or 2 guys with light arms.

  • sg

    One man with a couple guns can do a lot of damage. California, Colorado, Connecticut
    .
    Don’t forget Chicago. Lots of individual men with guns murdering lots of individuals.

  • sg

    That this debate is even happening scares me.

    why not treat ALL persons, with the same due process if they are on our land?

    Indeed.

  • Tom Hering

    Trotk @ 24, you imagine citizens scaling up a rebellion, but you fail to imagine government scaling up its response.

  • fjsteve

    When you think about it, it seems somewhat surreal that we would take due process so seriously as a country when a million would-be citizens are denied life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness every year.

    Out of sight, out of mind, as they say.

  • kerner

    Tom:

    There are literally hundreds of millions of firearms in private hands in this country (ironically, this number has increased recently due to the recent, unsuccessful attempts to reduce them). While one or two guys will eventually overcome, even by incompetents like those in Massachusetts, 200 million armed Americans are enough to deter real tyranny. Not that you would be much help.

    And it does not hurt to remember that quite a few of the people who join the military and the police are the same people whose families have guns at home. They would not all turn against their own. It is the best deterrent to tyranny we have.

  • DonS

    I was going to post a video and then I saw that Joe already posted it @ 20. Watch that video, people! It is chilling.

    I am very glad that the bombers were caught, and relatively quickly. Some great police work occurred in order to catch them. But that police work was all about reviewing the incredible number of video and photos available because the attack occurred on a busy street of a major city, and some valuable tips from citizens, including one who was grievously injured. Publicizing the bombers’ photos began the end game, because it flushed them out. However, the actions of officials on Friday were egregious. The 4th Amendment rights of hundreds of citizens were abused without cause, and to no avail. The perpetrator was located by a private citizen, a block outside of the perimeter of the locked-down portion of the city.

    And yet our media and many of the citizens of the city seemingly have no awareness or concern over the police tactics used and their consequences for our future liberties. That is the most chilling aspect of all.

  • helen

    Most of the country was just glued to the TV as if watching a “war movie” with no thought about constitutional freedom. That’s as scary as anything.
    As long as the perpetrators were loose, government had to look like it was doing something! Or thought it did.
    There may still be associates out there, but the public perception is that “We’ve got them.” so the media heat is off.

  • Tom Hering

    Kerner @ 29 … touchy, touchy! You seriously believe gun ownership is what stands between the American people and a tyrannical government? Ha! It was the Founders’ argument that so long as the American people practiced the virtues, tyranny would be impossible. Not gun ownership but virtuousness! In other words, if we ever get to the point where armed rebellion is necessary, it will be because tyranny has come to pass – and tyranny will have come to pass because the people ceased to be virtuous. So, at that point, armed rebellion will be nothing but the trading of one set of tyrants for another.

    Oh, and if the practice of the virtues is what guarantees liberty, no one is doing more to guarantee liberty than I am. :-P

  • Abby
  • kerner

    Tom:

    It was the Founders’ argument that so long as the American people practiced the virtues, tyranny would be impossible. Not gun ownership but virtuousness! In other words, if we ever get to the point where armed rebellion is necessary, it will be because tyranny has come to pass – and tyranny will have come to pass because the people ceased to be virtuous. So, at that point, armed rebellion will be nothing but the trading of one set of tyrants for another.

    You say po-tay-to and I say po-tah-to. :D I really wish you could see that things like courage, vigilance, and a willingness to lay down ones life for ones friends are virtues, and are included in the virtues that the founders were talking about. There may be nothing virtuous about bearing arms per se. But the willingness to bear arms in the defense of ones neighbor is clearly virtuous. “Greater love hath no man…etc.”

    I even agree with you that if “armed rebellion” ever becomes necessary it will probably be too late because tyranny will already be here, and most likely the result would only be the replacement of one tyranny by another. If history is any gauge, that is, in fact, what usually happens.

    It is not rebellion to fight to preserve authority which is already ones own. But that is slightly beside the point I’m trying to make right now.

    The point is you are right about the preservation of our republic depending on the attitudes of the American people vis a vis their government or “virtues” as you call those attitudes. If the American people think of themselves as an integral part of their government with the authority to control it (and the means to use force if necessary is a huge part of authority and control) then they will be involved and will be respected by their public servants. If the public servants perceive themselves as the only people with the means to use force, they won’t remain public servants for long.

    It is the idea that We the People have guns (guns = authority) and that the government employees (right up to the President) are public SERVANTS,/i> that helps preserve our republic. It is not the only factor, but it is certainly a necessary and vital factor. I wish you wouldn’t ignore that.

    Meanwhile, if you want to continue practicing many of the other virtues that the founders thought were important, you go right ahead. I misspoke when I said you aren’t much help. I’m sure you help a lot. But so do the rest of us.

  • trotk

    Tom @ 27,

    If it takes the government 5, 10, or 50 times as many men and as much firepower to eliminate a threat, there is no way it could “scale up” its response sufficiently to squash mass rebellion. There aren’t enough police officers or national guardsmen.

    I suppose drones, missiles, and other modern methods of warfare could be used, but the fact that it would take the entire military arsenal to eliminate a rebellion of 1/10 of the nation (obviously not a scientific number) proves the effectiveness of light arms.

    Syria is proving this, as did Iraq and Afghanistan. When people arm themselves and fight a guerrilla style war, tactical advantages begin to disappear, unless the government is willing to bomb residential neighborhoods.

  • Tom Hering

    Trotk, you’re imagining mass rebellion, which I believe is unlikely. Sure, a lot of households have guns, but if push ever comes to shove, most of these gun owners are going to say, “I have a spouse, children, a job, and a house – I think I’ll sit the rebellion out and just hope for the best.” Which leaves mostly young, unmarried males to carry out the armed rebellion. But even a good portion of these young men will say, “I prefer to finish college and get going on my career – even under a tyranny.” So, if you think it through just a little bit, an armed rebellion would certainly present our government with a difficult (and probably drawn out) situation, but one that’s much more manageable than NRA/fantastical thinking wants to admit.

  • P.C.

    Tom,

    What makes you think that mass rebellion is unlikely? The military just maybe the impetus of the mass rebellion. If our civilian government gets so out of wack (Lord help us), the military, and those whom have served, took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States, against all enemies, foreign and domestic…So help me God.” Military takeover and the resultant, martial law, may seem implausible but, in fact, could be reality.

  • trotk

    Tom, it isn’t so much that I think mass rebellion is likely. In fact, I don’t think it is. But I do think that your idea that people brandishing weapons in defense of liberty would be put down quickly is misguided. My point is simply that it takes the government radically disproportionate force to put someone down, partially because the government is constrained by needing to appear just, partially because it is easier to be the one shooting from hiding, and partially because the government can’t kill civilians with impunity. One man with a gun is not easily put down when you consider the firepower, manpower, and time necessary to ferret him out without destroying a whole neighborhood. The former officer in California and the brothers in Boston are examples of this.

    And thus if there were a rebellion, it is naive to believe the government could stop it quickly. If the government can’t stop a single man without squadrons and armored vehicles, what could they do in the face of actual rebellion? Short of bombing the locations of the rebels, very little, because they don’t have the manpower to go door-to-door against a million people, let alone 10 or 20 million. Again, I am not saying it is going to happen, but small arms, IED’s, booby-trapped homes, and guerrilla warfare are pretty effective against larger, more sophisticated forces.


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