White House press secretary Jay Carney says Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not be charged as an enemy combatant but instead face trial in a federal court.
QUESTION: Some Senate Republicans -- lastly, Jay -- are saying that the Boston suspect should be treated like an enemy combatant. Is that something that you guys have looked at or made a determination on?
MR. CARNEY: He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions. And it is important to remember that since 9/11, we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists. The effective use of the criminal justice system has resulted in the interrogation, conviction and detention of both U.S. citizens and noncitizens for acts of terrorism committed inside the United States and around the world.
The system has repeatedly proven that it can successfully handle the threat that we continue to face. And there are a number of examples of this -- high-profile: the Times Square Bomber, Faisal Shahzad, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Abdulmutallab, the so-called Underwear Bomber, was sentenced to life in prison. Warsame, a Somali national who was a member of Al Shabaab and has close associations with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is now currently in this system and we have acquired valuable intelligence from him through the process that is allowed in the system.
So this is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go. And when it comes to United States citizens, it is against the law to try them in military commissions.