Graham, McCain: Hold Boston suspect as enemy combatant

Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Peter King joined them in arguing against a criminal trial for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

Published April 20, 2013 4:06PM (EDT)

Sens. Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Peter King argued against trying Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a criminal court, instead saying that he should be held as an enemy combatant and questioned.

“It is clear the events we have seen over the past few days in Boston were an attempt to kill American citizens and terrorize a major American city," the four Republicans wrote in a joint statement. "The accused perpetrators of these acts were not common criminals attempting to profit from a criminal enterprise, but terrorists trying to injure, maim, and kill innocent Americans.

"The suspect, based upon his actions, clearly is a good candidate for enemy combatant status. We do not want this suspect to remain silent," they wrote.

The statement continued on to praise law enforcement officials for their decision to invoke the public safety exception and not read Tsarnaev his Miranda Rights, but added that they were concerned that this is limited to 48 hours. “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. That should be our focus, not a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete," the statement said.

By Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Enemy Combatants John Mccain Lindsey Graham Republicans