I disagree with Hightower.

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Enemy Combatants

So should the Boston bombers be classified as enemy combatants?

First of all what difference does that make? 
I believe that the difference is, basically, if you are an enemy combatant then you may be handled under military law and you do not have some of the procedural safeguards that are afforded to persons who are accused in accordance with civil law. 

Just a couple of side points here about who gets what?
No one “gives” you your Miranda rights (against being required to incriminate yourself.) when you are arrested.  The rights are given to you by the Constitution.  Officials “read” them to you so that the court can be sure that you are aware of them.  Not only that, if they fail to read them to you that doesn’t mean you get off, it just means that what they learn after not reading them cannot (normally) be used against you.
It sounds like some of the TV guys think that these civilian rights apply only to citizens.  Your constitution uses the expression “person”  as in “no person shall be twice put in jeopardy…  .”  It does not say no “citizen” … .

So should they be classified as enemy combatants?  It seems like first you should decide on who the enemy is first. That means recognize that we have a new situation and it is not a question of simply “figuring out what they are” and that what we need a general definition of enemy here.    

I would say the place to start would be with the list of terror organizations that the government keeps, they are among the enemy. Also any organization that declares itself to be at war with the U S is an enemy.  Anyone who is a member of or fights for such a group is an EC (enemy combatant).

It does not appear that these guys had a group.  So they are common criminals.


  1. This is a tough one for me because I do not think the concept of “hate” crime is a valid legal concept. To be more precise, I do not accept the premise that punishment or treatment under the law should be tied to why it was done, only what was done.

    The Boston bombers bombed a crowd. Try them for that.

    As for grouping I take a slightly different point of view. To me it seems reasonable to believe in this case that the older brother was indeed motivated by radical Islamic beliefs. Whether he had contact with others of similar belief or acted on behalf of (or at the behest of) others of similar belief is, for me, not criteria that would remove the older brother from the “radical Islamic” group.

    The bottom line is that I would treat the brothers as “common criminals” under the law even though I am convinced they are de facto terrorists and far from common. I would also suggest that prudent mitigation planning against similar events in the future be based on the “terrorist” believe and not on the “common criminal” treatment under the law.

  2. He is a message (at this URL) the younger brother left in the boat http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57584827-504083/boston-marathon-bombings-suspect-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-left-message-in-boat-calling-victims-collateral-damage/

    Meets my definition of terrorism.