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Chairman McKeon Statement on Disposition of Suspected Terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev


Location: Washington, DC

Congressman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made the statement below, following indications from the White House that suspected terrorist Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not be treated as an enemy combatant:

"The White House's announcement today that Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be tried in a federal court, not by military commission, is correct and consistent with provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act. However, it seems premature to declare that we will not treat Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant since we do not know enough about his affiliations. As an American citizen, he would be tried in federal court regardless of his status as an enemy combatant.

"Where to try Tsarnaev is only one decision facing the President today, and probably not the most pressing one. What is vital in the time ahead is the suspected terrorist associated with last week's horrific bombings is interrogated fully - with a focus not on some future civilian trial, but on gathering intelligence to prevent future attacks. Congress debated these issues exhaustively in the last defense bill and arrived at a commonsense consensus designed to deal with precisely this circumstance. Clearly American citizens must be tried in civilian courts, but the same citizen, having viciously attacked his countrymen, must be exploited for his intelligence value before any trial begins."

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