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CNN "State of the Union with Candy Crowley" - Transcript - Boston Bombing Investigation


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CROWLEY (on-camera): Federal terrorism charges could be filed as early as today against the second Boston marathon bombing suspect. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains hospitalized this morning with injuries including one to his throat. The "New York Times" is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security decided in recent months to delay action on an application for citizenship from the other suspected bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev.

A routine background check revealed he was interviewed by the FBI in 2011 at the request of the Russian government, which suspected that the older brother had ties to Chechen terrorist. He was killed following a shootout with police early Friday morning in Boston. CNN's latest reporting shows 57 victims remain hospitalized as a result of the Boston bombings. That includes three in critical condition.

Joining me now is Massachusetts senator, William, his friends call him Mo Cowan. Thank you so much, senator, for being with us this morning out of Boston. I want to ask you what you know about the status of the investigation. Has anything new turned up?

COWAN: Well, good morning, Candy. Thanks for having me here. And before I respond, I just want to take this opportunity to once again thank all the first responders who came to the scene on Monday and all the investigative personnel who spent all week working hard to identify and capture the suspects we believe to be responsible for this heinous crime committed on marathon Monday.

In terms of the investigation itself, there's not much new to report beyond what we are hearing. The investigation continues obviously as to the whys and hows of the circumstance. The second offender who was in the hospital is not yet able to communicate. That's to the best of our understanding.

That may be due to some of the injuries he suffered. We're trying to understand how he suffered those injuries and look forward to communicating with him to find out exactly what happened here and what the motivations were.

CROWLEY: Can we surmise at this point that you still believe you have the perpetrators of the attack at the marathon and that there is no further danger out there, no other people that, at this moment, pose a danger to American soil connected to this?

COWAN: Well, we are -- I think the law enforcement personnel, the investigators are confident that the 19-year-old offender who's in the hospital was involved with the incidents on Monday. As to whether or not there may be others involved, as I understand it, we don't think there may be others at this point. But the investigators as they should are continuing to look into the matter.

And the authorities including myself are asking everyone to be vigilant but not fearful. To live our lives but keep our eyes open. To make sure if we see or hear of unusual activity to bring it forward. But the investigation continues, the arrest of this offender is a significant step, but we recognize we have a long way to go yet, Candy.

CROWLEY: Senator, that's the challenge, isn't it, to be not fearful but vigilant. Sometimes the two of those are a bit mutually exclusive. How do you envision that future big events in Boston, in fact, let's just take the Boston marathon next year, has this not fundamentally changed the way you approach large events in that city or any other city?

COWAN: Well, any time you have an event like this, Candy, you need to learn from it. There's much more investigative work yet to do to understand how Monday's events came to be, how these two individuals came to devise the explosive devices, what motivated them? And I'm sure the Boston police and the federal authorities and others in preparation for next marathon which we expect to be bigger and better than it's ever been before will take those lessons into mind to make sure the route is as secure as it can be.

The reality is you can't prevent these things in every circumstance, but you can prepare as well as you can humanly possible to try to limit the possibility that this could happen. I am confident that our law enforcement personnel will do that over the coming weeks and months. And it's an abject lesson for everyone in the nation that we have to be vigilant. If you see something, say something.

And in this case, you know, in the aftermath of the explosions, we actually had citizens who saw something, who brought that information forward and allowed us to bring these two individuals into custody, at least in the case of the second offender and identified them right away.

CROWLEY: Senator, before being appointed senator, you were Governor Patrick's chief of staff. You were, in fact, his chief legal counsel. So, I want you to take a legal look at what's going to happen next.

COWAN: Sure.

CROWLEY: Should this suspect be tried on state murder charges? Should he be tried on federal terror charges? And I assume you want that trial wherever it is -- or whatever it is in Massachusetts?

COWAN: Yes. The debate over whether this individual will be tried in the civil courts or military tribunals, I know it's already started, Candy. The reality here is it's complicated because we have an individual, who by all account, was naturalized as citizen just a few months ago on September 11th ironically. And the law around treating U.S. citizens as military combatants is not, in fact, clear.

The reality is the last time I think we did this was in the Jose Padilla case and after some litigation, ultimately, the Bush administration decided to try him in a civil proceedings -- civil courts, I should say, and convictions were brought forward. I have tremendous faith in our justice system, in this justice department, should they decide to bring him to trial in the traditional criminal proceedings.

And when we're dealing with a U.S. citizen, even one who was committed these heinous acts, we must be mindful of the constitution and the constitutional prerogatives that are available in those circumstances. That debate will continue no doubt, but I do believe that we can bring him to justice in our court system.

CROWLEY: Senator, quickly if I could. Massachusetts does not have the death penalty. Do you think the death penalty at the federal level should be open should this suspect be found guilty of terrorism?

COWAN: Well, the Department of Justice, and particularly, Attorney General Holder will ultimately make that decision as to what charges are brought forward and what particular punishment they may seek for this. And so, I'm going to give them the room and the space.

CROWLEY: What do you think?

COWAN: You are correct here. At the state level of Massachusetts, we don't have the death penalty. I am not personally a proponent of the death penalty. I think that -- but I'll leave it to Attorney General Holder to decide ultimately what needs to be done here. And I'll support that.

CROWLEY: OK. Senator Cowan, thanks for your time this morning. I appreciate it.

When we return, two members of Congress are demanding answers from federal law enforcement officials saying their counterterrorism efforts might not be working as well as we'd like. We'll talk with one of them, House Homeland Security chairman, Michael McCaul.


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