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Determination of a Legal Premise or a Political one

Reader comment on item: Boston Bombing Lesson: Ban Niqabs and Burqas
in response to reader comment: Enemy Combatant

Submitted by M. Tovey (United States), Apr 25, 2013 at 19:12

The premise of not naming Dzhokhar Tsarnaev an enemy combatant is a loaded question from any perspective one tries to look at it. The first litmus test is the Constitutional one, since if anyone is still interested in living by its precepts and the alleged killer was made a citizen, then that must be accounted for. Next to consider, was his a crime against the state (meaning the nation) or a crime against person(s)? Further, if as it is presumed he and his accomplice brother were in fact carrying out a 'terrorist attack,' do local laws govern potential accusations or do the Feds have a legitimate case to pursue?

As far as can be seen by an observer's perspective for the moment, it is all of the above. When one considers the gravity of the crimes, this can be rightly said to pale in comparison to the Federal building bombing in Oklahoma City, leaving alone the Sep 11 attacks as being in a different category due to the fact the principal offenders were not citizens, if remembered correctly.

At minimum, Tsarnaev can be charged with murder, a case for which is already quite compelling and should be easy to prosecute on that premise alone. But as it is already demonstrated, very few are looking to take the simplicity of that approach for a variety of reasons, not the least of which might be due to the inability to differentiate just exactly what kind of crime was committed and which of the various applicable laws were actually violated.

But, could Tsarnaev be charged with the greater atrocity of being an enemy combatant? This leads to a speculation of fifth columnists in country and the greater implication of with whom are we at war? The Russians do indeed have a wartime standing with Chechens; but does the United States? If the more sublime aspect of being at war with the unnamed groups having connections to al-Qaeda is allowed to prevail, can that case be made against an individual who, for all intents and purposes, was likely doing nothing more than following in the footsteps of a brother to which he evidently held in higher esteem?

So, for the immediate view, it is going to be a political spectacle for which and from which America will never be able to take away any good results since it will take a very long time to sort it all out. Then the question remains: what will America do about the continuing contemporary situation of potential attacks of others who now see that vulnerable America is even more vulnerable due to the inconsistent response of not being able to identify a terrorist attack when it is perpetrated, even by supposed citizens against other citizens (like Fort Hood).

It is here that the American citizen is not being given the best understanding of the circumstances of just what the government is doing. In the shadows of such things, the issue of allowing lawful citizens their Constitutional right to self protection by arms is somehow given nexus to the bombing incident as the American Administrative Chief Executive and his vice present walk away in wonder as to why they were not able to get more extreme gun control measure put into place, which begs the question: will this actually be allowed to factor in the next iteration of gun control? For the moment, that still remains to be seen.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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