Boston Bombing Suspects Are Losers, Not Enemy Combatants

Terrorist tactics should not scare us into undermining the Constitution.

From the Twittersphere to CNN, last week's frenzied theorizing about the Boston Marathon bombing was an object lesson in the dangers of premature speculation.

But there's one assessment of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev for which we already have enough information. That's the one given by their uncle, Ruslan Tsarni, who, when asked what motivated his nephews to commit the atrocity, replied "being losers, [full of] hatred to those who were able to settle themselves."

Contrast Uncle Reslan's pithy dismissal with the current Republican craze for declaring America a "battlefield" and demanding that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a naturalized American citizen, be held as an "enemy combatant."

That proposal, issued by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), and Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), among others, is illegal, unnecessary, and unwise.

As Justice Antonin Scalia noted in an earlier enemy combatant case, "where the government accuses a citizen of waging war against it, our constitutional tradition has been to prosecute him in federal court."

And as Brookings' Benjamin Wittes explains, "the public safety exception to Miranda means the FBI has a considerable degree of flexibility" in questioning Tsarnaev to explore any connection to foreign terrorism.

Republican lawmakers' zeal for an "enemy combatant" designation puts them to the right of Justice Scalia and even President Nixon, who, upon signing the Non-Detention Act of 1971 (providing that "no citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress"), emphasized that "our democracy is built upon the constitutional guarantee that every citizen will be afforded due process of law."

We shouldn't allow terrorist tactics to scare us into undermining that guarantee. There's good reason terrorism is so often called the "weapon of the weak." In the 20th century, across the entire world "fewer than 20 terrorist attacks killed more than a hundred people," Dan Gardner observes in The Science of Fear.

Americans' odds of dying in a terrorist attack stand at roughly 1 in 20 million, which, as Micah Zenko noted recently, means we're as likely to "crushed to death by our televisions or furniture" in any given year.

When we inflate terrorism's risk, we do terrorists' work for them. "To bring down America we need not strike big," al Qaeda's online magazine Inspire noted in 2010, "It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks."

Instead, we should stiffen our upper lips, "keep calm and carry on" -- all the more so, since we're not facing anything remotely like the Nazi Blitz.

In a similarly anxious time back in 2003, the federal judge who sentenced attempted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid to life in prison, made a statement that deserves to be quoted at length:

"There is all too much war talk here," said Judge William Young, "Here in this court where we deal with individuals as individuals ... . You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war ... . To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. ... You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.

"In a very real sense Trooper Santiago had it right when first you were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were and you said you're no big deal. You're no big deal."

Uncle Reslan's words struck a chord with Americans, because amid the hysteria, it put terrorists in their proper place: "losers," not "enemy combatants."

This article originally appeared in The Washington Examiner.

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  • rts||

    Uncle Ruslan for President!

    Can't be any worse than what's going on now, plus the press conferences would be much more interesting.

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  • ||

    Still in love with Fred Armisen Uncle Ruslan!

  • Underzog||

    Unbelievable how you guys excuse Islamic terrorism done to establish a worldwide caliphate. If drugs do that to one's mind then they certainly should not legalize them for recreational use.

    "Even Islamic terrorists don't hate America as much as Liberals do. They don't have the energy. If they did they'd have indoor plumbing by now."

    Ann Coulter

  • ||

    to establish a worldwide caliphate.

    Depends on the caliphate. Bring back the Umayyads and I might seriously consider joining up.

  • John||

    I wouldn't.

  • ||

    Prefer Ferdinand and Isabella then? I bet you're a heretic, I'm sure the Inquisition will be able to sort that out.

  • ||

    Meh. I give this troll a 1. No beat and you can't dance to it.

  • ||

    Underschmuck isn't a troll, he's an insane retard. There's a difference.

  • ||

    I meant troll as in this specific comment, not the user.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Eh, just give him an ice cream cone, then tell him to tighten his bicycle helmet.

  • Way Of The Crane||

    Americans' odds of dying in a terrorist attack stand at roughly 1 in 20 million, which, as Micah Zenko noted recently, means we're as likely to "crushed to death by our televisions or furniture" in any given year.

    Jesus, Gene, get a flat screen already and stop fucking around with those dangerous CRT televisions.

  • kinnath||

    I have tried many times to explain to people that the odds of being killed in a car accident on the way to the airport are many orders of magnitude higher that being killed in a terrorist attack on their airplane.

    Emotions just blind people to reality.

  • thom||

    How can that possibly be true? There are no TSA checkpoints on the roads leading to airports to inspect vehicles.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Large flatscreens are actually more likely to kill young children than CRTs, because their center of gravity is much higher and therefor are easier to tip over.

  • John||

    I am not convinced this is even much of a federal crime. You have to torture the definition of "Weapon of Mass Destruction" beyond all recognition to fit them under the federal statute they are charged under. I could see charging them with Treason if you could show that they were actually working for a foreign entity. I would even agree to treason if you proved they were doing this for Al Quada or some international terrorist organization.

    But by all appearances they don't seem to have done that. They seem to be a couple of angry losers who decided to strike a blow for the jihad. Bad and worthy of prosecution for sure. But I am not sure worthy of federal prosecution. This looks to me like a state murder case.

  • kinnath||

    The city of Boston or the state of Massachusetts should be charing these guys with murder one and prosecuting them (only one guy left now).

    The forensic evidence is overwhelming. The try the bastard, convict him, then throw him into the general population. He'd be dead within hours, and everyone goes away happy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's hard to tell what the federal government would stay out of when things get blown up. McVeigh was different, I guess, since a federal building and federal employees were involved.

  • kinnath||

    When white people bombed black churches in the south many years ago, the involvement of the federal government was necessary because of the presumption that local governments would not actually seek justice.

    There is no reason to believe that Boston or Massachusettes would try to sweep this attack under the rug.

    The feds are just grandstanding on this case.

  • StinkEye||

    "...The feds are just grandstanding on this case."

    (DHS/DOJ/ATF/FBI/NSA/ICE/ETC...)

    Well, how else are they going to justify 12 years of kabuki theater, and egregiously expansive budgets for dysfunctional agencies, and the ever expanding and intrusive police state that they foster. It might have looked as if these asinine, bloated, and pointless federal travesties departments were just jerking the public off for 12 years, periodically setting chumps and stooges up to take the fall in a very public manner, all in an attempt to justify their budgets, their civil liberty crushing doctrine, and the offensive nature of their very existence, all whilst actual terrorists™ dangerous criminals plotted death and destruction, right out in plain sight, and right under their very noses.... Imagine that.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Making and using explosive devices is pretty much always a federal crime, much like building a machine gun gets you fucked in the ass by the BATFE (which is the same agency that will fuck you in the ass for explosives).

  • John||

    But that is not what they are charged with. They are charged with WMD. Making the explosives won't get you the kind of time that is demanded in this case.

  • ||

    What's the relevant federal statute? I've never actually seen/read it. I don't know how "mass" the destruction has to be to qualify an explosive as a WMD, but the bombs they exploded did quite severe damage to both property and lives. It's easy to only count the dead, but 14 people with lopped off limbs and 150 more with serious injuries is nothing to sneeze at. Mass destruction doesn't necessarily have to mean mass-casualty.

  • albo||

    Give the feds jurisdiction on the weapons of mass destruction charge.

    then load up that douche with about 500 state charges of murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault, illegal gun use, illegal offensive weapon use, fleeing the police, resisting arrest, trespassing, spitting on the sidewalk, illegal use of BBs, being a dick, and aggravated fuckery.

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Littering.
    Creating a public nuisance.
    Occupying a trailered boat.

  • meunke||

    "aggravated fuckery"

    I would LOVE to see that on an indictment!

  • StinkEye||

    Administering perceived religious justice without license/permit.

    Using cookware in a matter inconsistent with the labeling.

    Transporting explosives in an unapproved container.

    Failing to indicate, during police chase.

    Failure to conduct environmental impact study of proposed blast radius.

    Egregious violations of the Clean Air/Water acts. Explosives contained less than 10% ethanol.

    Carbon tax evasion on adjusted carbon footprint when explosives changed from solid to gas state.

    alleged removal of mattress tags. (pending)

    And a warm and heartfelt thanks on behalf of the CISPA proponents, for distracting the publics' attention just long enough to ram that shitbird through the HoR...FTW!

  • Live Free or Diet||

    Boston Bombing Suspects Are Losers, Not Enemy Combatants

    Can't we opt for both? From what I've read, they typically are.

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    ""To bring down America we need not strike big," al Qaeda's online magazine Inspire noted in 2010, "It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks.""

    Lindsay Graham needs to have that tatooed on his butt - who will have the guts to attempt this?

  • 0x90||

    So. You admit that you are an avid reader of al-Qaeda propaganda materials. I note also, that van Haalen is not an American name. Sounds Swedish, and as everyone knows, Sweden is now full of al-Qaeda operatives.

    I think we know all we need to know.

  • ||

    Lindsay Graham needs to have that tatooed on his butt

    No good - the only person who will see it is John McCain when he's fucking him in the ass.

  • Mongo||

    Shouldn't that be "looser" instead of "loser" to conform with Internet Writing Style?

  • Joe Durnavich||

    That would be rediculous.

  • 0x90||

    Definately.

  • grey||

    I'm trying hard to figure out where I fall on the 'enemy combatant', knee jerk reaction is no. For me, liberty trumps security - especially when you're granting increased federal powers to an already hulkiefied federal government.

    I looked up the Public Safety Exception to Miranda, it appears there is no time limit and the police, whether or not the douche has been Miransized, can keep asking all the questions they want. Contrarily, I'm hearing in some news outlets that Mirandizing means we're on to a 'through attorney's only/plea bargain' type process. I don't see that with the exception, am I wrong?

  • meunke||

    Question: Has there been any data posted anywhere on what TYPE of explosive was used? (don't say pressure cooker, that was simply the container)

    Commercial dynamite? ANFO? Actual C4? AN+Bullseye? Black powder?

  • ||

    "Gunpowder" was widely reported immediately following the incident. Get ready for home reloading to become a federal crime...

  • Gray Ghost||

    No one's reading this thread anymore, I think, but if they are, then the latest on the explosives used is that the brothers got them from ordinary fireworks. I.e., black powder. A stand in N.H. is talking about how one of them bought something like $250 in fireworks.

  • meunke||

    Thanks for the heads up, Gray Ghost!

  • aliciasable||

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  • StinkEye||

    ".. made $7683 grafting eighteen hours a week from home.."

    LOL scambot.....

  • XM||

    And how do we know these guys are just "losers" who carried out some terrorist fantasies? Why did Russia warn us to check up on the older brother? Did he disappear for 6 months for vacation? The younger one is apparently telling FBI they acted alone, but I would everything that comes out of his mouth with a grain of salt.

    Right now, we can't enforce immigration laws lest the other side accuses you of being a nativist. The borders are porous as ever. The FBI or INS allows non citizens with a history of domestic violence and ties with terrorist groups (recognized first by another nation, go figure) to stay indefinitely. Our ability to anticipate or stop these terrorist acts are hampered by our commitment to civil liberty, which is a necessary evil in times like this.

    I understand all the textbook arguments for protecting the rights of the accused, in a vacuum. Which means we're ripe for more smaller forms of terrorism committed by those who know how to exploit our laws, our obligation to fairness, our stupid immigration laws.

    Had the bombers struck at the LA Marathon, many (illegal) immigrants would have died or lost their limbs. Those who think we should RAM through the immigration reform as if nothing happened should remember this.

  • ||

    Facts are still leaking out, but you have to admit that for a major terrorist organization, this would be kind of an embarrassment. the fact that they freaked out like panicked school kids and got themselves shot all to shit without taking public credit or making a political statement also sort of points in that direction. Terrorist organizations do this shit for attention and are generally much better organized. And in any case, for better or worse, they were Americans. Porous as our borders are, they didn't immigrate illegally, they were accepted as refugees. The younger of the two was just naturalized last year. They weren't captured on a foreign battlefield. So far there's been no reports of their rent being paid by Al Qaeda Inc credit cards. No flight school. There don't seem to be any good grounds for prosecuting them (er, him) as anything other than murderers and terrorists under US law.

  • hannah42||

    If you think Nathan`s story is exceptional,, two weaks-ago my cousin basically recieved a check for $8012 working a fourty hour month from there apartment and the're roomate's half-sister`s neighbour did this for 4 months and got a cheque for over $8012 in their spare time at their pc. use the tips from this site, http://www.wow92.com

  • Lyle||

    Hot damn... not one mention of Muslim or Islam.

  • MSimon||

    We should not give up our Constitution. Period.

    But to avoid the fact that at least a significant fraction of Islam is waging war against us is delusional.

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