You might be aware that Congress and the Media’s Air Waves have been buzzing today with the question of whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Suspect #2) should be tried for the Bombings at the Boston Marathon as a Terrorist, in a Civil Court, or as an Enemy Combatant, at a Military Tribunal. I would suggest that the two sides of this issue could best be described by President John Adams (#2, after George Washington) and present-day Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC). Although these two men span almost 250 years, to me, it is a simple issue.
A little-known fact about John Adams is that, in 1770, he defended the British Soldiers from what became known as The Boston Massacre, http://americanhistory.about.com/cs/johnadams/f/adamsboston.htm. Adams declared that the soldiers did what anyone would do when confronted by an angry, potentially violent mob–and one fired his musket, which set the whole thing off–killing five civilians. Six of the Redcoats were acquitted and two were convicted.
Sen. Graham served as a JAG (Judge Advocate General) Officer on active duty in the U.S. Air Force, is now in the Air Force Reserve, and has served for brief periods, both in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although many Members of Congress are attorneys, Republicans often defer to Sen. Graham on issues, like this, where Military Law comes into play.
So, the question is: whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is an Enemy Combatant or a Terrorist? Intrinsic to President Adams’ Defense of the British soldiers was that, if we are to become a Nation of Laws, equal protection of same should be provided to all. Surely, that most fundamental point hasn’t been lost over the ages.
Sen. Graham states that Mr. Tsarnaev is an Enemy Combatant, with ties to al-quida or some other overseas terrorist group, and should be tried as an Enemy Combatant. Two attorneys; but, I believe they they are focused differently. I might add that the Members of the Senate Judiciary committee seemed to be arguing political points today, more so than legal issues. So, Adams or Graham, who’s right?
I believe that, if you consider what has been published and aired about Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, at least to me, it appears to be quite obvious. Yes, his older brother, Tamerlan Dzhokhar, seemed to have been radicalized by Muslim Extremism; however, nothing has been reported about Dzhokhar being similarly transformed.
The younger brother was brought to America when he was eight years old, had most of his education in U.S. schools, became a Naturalized Citizen and there has not been any reports of overseas trips or frequenting terrorist web sites. So, where is the evidence to declare him to be an Enemy Combatant? Hey, I’m not an attorney; but, to me, this is a clear-cut case for Equal Protection under the Law. Give him a Civil Trial as a Terrorist!
NOTE: And, just to throw in a bit of recent-day trivia, President Adams’ Mother was Susana Boylston Adams, a prominent family in Colonial Massachusetts. I assume that is the origin of Boylston Street, the site of the Boston Marathon Bombings.