White House aides rankle at any comparison to Bush and Cheney. They dutifully note that in his first days in office, Obama ended the use of torture (a.k.a. enhanced interrogation techniques) and declared his intention to shut down Guantanamo. (Gitmo remains open, but that’s mainly because congressional Republicans and Democrats thwarted the White House effort to develop a high-security facility in the United States to house the detainees.) And the Obama-ites contend they have reformed some of the Bush-Cheney policies, such as the use of military commissions, to justify maintaining these practices. Also, they are not reluctant to add that Obama did end the war in Iraq and is downsizing the war in Afghanistan (at a faster pace than then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and then-CIA chief David Petraeus urged in 2011). But much of this defense has tended to get lost as the administration has fired off drone strikes without acknowledging the individual attacks and has, following in the path of previous administrations, resisted certain congressional oversight efforts.
So Obama’s speech Thursday on counterterrorism policies—which follows his administration’s acknowledgment yesterday that it had killed four Americans (including Anwar al-Awlaki, an Al Qaeda leader in Yemen)—is a big deal, for with this address, Obama is self-restricting his use of drones and shifting control of them from the CIA to the military. And the president has approved making public the rules governing drone strikes.
The New York Times received the customary pre-speech leak and reported:
A new classified policy guidance signed by Mr. Obama will sharply curtail the instances when unmanned aircraft can be used to attack in places that are not overt war zones, countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The rules will impose the same standard for strikes on foreign enemies now used only for American citizens deemed to be terrorists.
Lethal force will be used only against targets who pose “a continuing, imminent threat to Americans” and cannot feasibly be captured, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a letter to Congress, suggesting that threats to a partner like Afghanistan or Yemen alone would not be enough to justify being targeted
In all the lather over whether to Mirandize the Terror suspect or not, (and that “suspect” is pro forma only since the case and evidence against him is monumental,) there’s a few factors that need to be taken into consideration.
First, he came out of that boat voluntarily and he needed medical care. So we don’t know for certain that he’s actually been arrested yet. Since arrest starts some legal clocks ticking, they might have held off on that until his medical condition stabilizes.
If he’s a patient voluntarily receiving medical care, and the guards are there just for his protection (since many would like to see him dead,) that changes a few things.
Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer, I could be really really wrong in all of this speculation.What I expect to happen is that a team of interrogators will have a quiet chat with him to explore if there are other threats or connections to his brother that the authorities need to know. Since the brother is dead, there’s no need to worry about the brother’s rights or those of people who Dzhokhar might finger as an imminent threat since any mentions will take whole new investigations and legal processes. If, as I suspect there aren’t further accomplices then we will see him arrested, mirandized, and charged immediately after that chat.
Unlike a couple of US senators who are calling for him to be swept away to gitmo, most of the public recognizes that this isn’t an episode of NCIS LA and they don’t want anything like that to occur. **
As I noted in the disclaimer I could be wrong, see this note from the FBI, while the headline mentions arrest, there’s not a statement that he is arrested or under arrest, which to me leaves the status vague:
Message from FBI Director Robert Mueller Regarding Arrest of Boston Bombing Suspect
April 19, 2013
FBI National Press Office[no phone numbers allowed]
Message from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller:
During this long week, we have seen an extraordinary effort by law enforcement, intelligence, and public safety agencies. These collaborative efforts, with the help and cooperation of the public, resulted in the successful outcome we have seen tonight. The investigation will continue as part of our efforts to seek answers and justice, and there will be no pause in that effort. But tonight, I wish to thank all those who worked so tirelessly throughout the week in the pursuit of safety and justice
The FBI also has an update out from the doctors that he’s still in serious condition - I would also add that with a neck wound it’s possible that he can’t speak.
Update from AP
What Tsarnaev will say and when are unclear. He remained in serious condition Sunday and apparently in no shape for interrogation after being pulled bloodied and wounded from a tarp-covered boat in a Watertown backyard. The capture came at the end of a tense Friday that began with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan, dying in a gunbattle with police.
original opinion piece From Hampton Roads Pilot online:
The capture of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect raises a host of freighted legal issues for a society still feeling the shadow of 9/11, including whether he should be read a Miranda warning, how he should be charged, where he might be tried, and whether the bombings Monday were a crime or an act of war.
The suspect, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, was taken, bleeding, to a hospital on Friday night, and it remained unclear Saturday whether he was conscious. The authorities would typically arraign a suspect in a courtroom by Monday.
Most experts expect the case to be handled by federal authorities, who were preparing a criminal complaint alleging the use of weapons of mass destruction, which can carry the death penalty because deaths resulted from the blasts.
“I think we can expect the prosecution to put together a meticulous case,” based on the forensic evidence, the videos, eyewitness accounts and any statements that the surviving defendant makes to the authorities, said Kelly T. Currie, who led the Violent Crimes and Terrorism section in the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2006 to 2008.
The Obama administration has said it planned to begin questioning Tsarnaev for a period without delivering the Miranda warning - informing him that he has a right to remain silent and to have a lawyer present.
Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer, I could be really really wrong in all of this speculation.
If you believe the folks at NASA—and really, why shouldn’t you?—it’s only a matter of when, not if, we need someone like Dr. Bong Wie to save the human race from a civilization-destroying catastrophe.
Wie is the director of the Asteroid Deflection Research Center at Iowa State University, the only institution in the United States dedicated to the deflection of what NASA calls Near-Earth Objects (NEOs)—“asteroids” to the rest of us. He’s been busy lately. On Friday, Americans woke up to reports and videos of the largest meteorite in more than a century crashing into Siberia. In the late afternoon, 600,000 people watched online as the DA14 asteroid passed just 17,000 miles from Earth. In response to all of this, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, announced he would hold a hearing “to develop contingencies” in the event of an imminent threat from outer space.
Scientists have been calling on the government to wake up to the NEO threat for decades, “but nothing happened,” Wie says. “We are very lucky to have today’s events.”
Wie’s plan for destroying an Earth-bound asteroid is simple: Stick a massive nuclear device into it and blast it to smithereens. Notwithstanding the 168 factual inaccuracies NASA engineers have reportedly found in Armageddon, Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton got it essentially right. “Astronauts will not be required, so clearly this would be an unmanned robotic mission—but we will need a nuclear device,” Wie says.
… Spherule beds deposited between 3.5 and 1.7 billion years ago have been found all over the world — but this time frame doesn’t match up with existing models of unusually violent asteroid activity, specifically a span in our solar system’s history known as the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB). According to what’s known as the Nice model, the LHB lasted from 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago, when the irregular orbits of our cosmic neighborhood’s outermost planets triggered a cannonade of asteroids and comets throughout the Solar System. What, then, was the source of the extraterrestrial assault responsible for the spherule beds that geologists see dating from 3.8-billion-years ago onward?
According to a new model, created by a research team led by planetary dynamicist William Bottke, these asteroids likely originated from a long-extinct extension of the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Computer simulations that incorporate this ancient extension not only reproduce a modern population of asteroids called the Hungarias, they also predict the occurrence of roughly 70 impact events, on the same scale or larger as the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, between 3.7 and 1.7 billion years ago. In brief: their results suggest that the LHB lasted, quite literally, billions of years longer than previously thought.
Neither the George W. Bush nor Barack Obama White House ever laid out a vision for what an end to the war on terrorism would actually look like. But as Obama prepares for his second term in office, one of his top defense officials is arguing that there is an end in sight, and laying out conditions for when the U.S. will reach it.
“On the present course, there will come a tipping point,” Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, told the Oxford Union in the U.K. on Friday, “a tipping point at which so many of the leaders and operatives of al-Qaida and its affiliates have been killed or captured, and the group is no longer able to attempt or launch a strategic attack against the United States, such that al-Qaida as we know it, the organization that our Congress authorized the military to pursue in 2001, has been effectively destroyed.” At that point, “our efforts should no longer be considered an armed conflict.”
Johnson’s description of the endgame raises more questions than answers. But under his formulation, the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which the Obama administration has cited as the foundation of its wartime powers, would expire. That would mean any detainee at Guantanamo Bay who hasn’t been charged with a crime would be free to go, although Johnson says that wouldn’t necessarily happen immediately. It would also raise questions about whether the U.S. would possess residual legal authorities for its lethal drone program — which Johnson defended to the BBC on Thursday — including the legal basis for any “postwar” drone strike the CIA might perform.
In Johnson’s view, once al-Qaida’s ability to launch a strategic attack is gone, so too is the war. What will remain is a “counterterrorism effort” against the “individuals who are the scattered remnants” of the organization or even unaffiliated terrorists. “The law enforcement and intelligence resources of our government are principally responsible” for dealing with them, Johnson said, according to the text of his speech, with “military assets in reserve” for an imminent threat.
The Obama administration calls it “targeted killing.” Steven Seagal would call it getting marked for death. It’s the practice of singling out an individual, linked to a terrorist group, for killing, and it’s been played out hundreds of times in the 9/11 era — including, more recently, against U.S. citizens like al-Qaida’s YouTube preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki. The Obama team has said next to nothing about how it works or what laws restrict it. Until Monday.
Attorney General Eric Holder explained the administration’s reasoning for killing American citizens overseas — and only overseas — with drone strikes and other means during a Monday speech at Northwestern University. Holder claimed that the government can kill “a U.S. citizen who is a senior operational leader of al-Qaida or associated forces” provided the government — unilaterally — determines that citizen poses “an imminent threat of violent attack”; he can’t be captured; and “law of war principles,” like the use of proportional force and the minimization of collateral damage, apply.
“This is an indicator of our times,” Holder argued, “not a departure from our laws and our values.”
The debate over killing Awlaki, whom Holder barely discussed, began long before a Hellfire missile fired from a drone killed him and fellow propagandist Samir Khan in September. Awlaki’s father sued the Obama administration in 2010 to compel it to reveal its legal rationale for the long-telegraphed strike. (Full disclosure: My wife works for the ACLU, which helped Nasser al-Awlaki with his lawsuit.) The administration refused, with a judge’s support.
For months after Awlaki’s killing, the government never disclosed any evidence supporting its decision that Awlaki posed an imminent danger to Americans, beyond his rhetoric of incitement. But during the February sentencing of the “Underwear Bomber,” the government put forward a court filing claiming that Awlaki worked intimately with convicted would-be bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253. Holder referred to that connection in his speech.
Several legal scholars have wondered why the U.S. didn’t have to provide Awlaki with due process of law before killing him, as stipulated under the Fifth Amendment. Holder contended that the U.S. actually did — even if no judge ever heard Awlaki’s case.
“The Constitution’s guarantee of due process is ironclad, and it is essential — but, as a recent court decision makes clear,” Holder argued, “it does not require judicial approval before the president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.”