When the Administration decided to treat surviving Boston bomber Dzhokar Tsarnaev as a criminal defendant, rather than declaring him an unlawful enemy combatant, some Republican lawmakers worried it would make intelligence gathering more difficult. “I’m not worried about getting a conviction,” said Rep. Peter King (R-NY), confident that the mountain of physical evidence against Tsarnaev would ensure a successful prosecution. “I want the intelligence so we can save American lives, and that can only be done, I believe, effectively if he is treated as an enemy combatant and denied access to a lawyer.”
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued for at least extending the period before Tsarnaev was Mirandized to 30 days, instead of the 48-hour “public safety exemption” allowed under current policy.
The text of the relevant laws made it clear that the conditions necessary for treating Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant had not been met, so treating him as a criminal seemed like the way to go. “Without firmer ties to organized terror groups in evidence, there doesn???t seem to be any legal groundwork for the ‘enemy combatant’ designation,” I wrote on Tuesday. “Let???s hope Dzhokar keeps talking to those investigators.”
Well, he did… right up until a judge swanned into his hospital room and read him the Miranda warning. “Sixteen hours after investigators began interrogating him, the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings went silent,” the Associated Press writes. “He’d just been read his constitutional rights.”
Fox News says the judge’s sudden appearance “stunned” FBI investigators:
The FBI filed a federal criminal complaint against the 19-year-old on Sunday, and federal District Court Judge Marianne Bowler arrived at the hospital where he is being treated to preside over his initial hearing Monday, when she read him his Miranda rights.
But Fox News’ sources say there was confusion about Bowler’s timing, with some voicing concerns that investigators were not given enough time to question Dzhokhar under the “public safety exception” invoked by the Justice Department.
Two officials with knowledge of the FBI briefing on Capitol Hill said the FBI was against stopping the investigators’ questioning and was stunned that the judge, Justice Department prosecutors and public defenders showed up, feeling valuable intelligence may have been sacrificed as a result.
The same Fox report mentions that Dzhokhar’s older brother Tamerlan “sent text messages to his mother as early as 2011 suggesting he was willing to die for Islam.” Thanks for the heads-up, Mom!