Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: With Eric Holder in charge, Tsarnaev may get off

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists,Homeland Security,Eric Holder

Do we get a vote as to whether Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be treated as an enemy combatant or similar to the common criminal who snatches a purse?

President Obama has already decided for us. According to news reports, Tsarnaev will not be charged as an enemy combatant.

A brief rehash is in order -- not because readers don't know who Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is, but because rehashing and giving back-stories is what we journalist types must do.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is suspected of being one of two men who set off bombs during the Boston Marathon, which was run on April 15.

The other man was Tsarnaev's older brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a subsequent firefight with police. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured on April 19.

This past Monday, he was charged with using a weapon of mass destruction. White House spokesman Jay Carney explained why Obama decided to forgo treating the suspect as an enemy combatant.

"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant," Carney said, according to foxnews.com. "We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. The system has repeatedly proved it can successfully handle the threats we continue to face."

Carney, according to the story, added that U.S. citizens -- and Tsarnaev is one -- can't be tried by a military commission.

Several Republican legislators wanted Obama to designate Tsarnaev an enemy combatant, and they made it clear they never urged that Tsarnaev be tried by a military commission.

They just wanted him designated an enemy combatant and for administration officials to interrogate him like one.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., was among those urging that the suspect be treated as an enemy combatant. But that would require establishing that Tsarnaev had links to al Qaeda or other terrorist groups.

Let's make this entire enemy combatant thing much simpler to understand, shall we? If a person -- whether an American citizen or not (and believe me, if ever a person deserved to have an asterisk attached to his American citizenship, then Tsarnaev is one) -- engages in an act of war against this country or its citizens, then enemy combatant status should apply.

Let's see now: Tsarnaev is accused of setting off bombs that killed three Americans and wounded or injured nearly 300 others.

Then he and his brother were accused of killing one police officer and engaging in a firefight that left another wounded.

That sounds like an "act of war" to me. It sure isn't the same as sticking up the mom and pop grocery store in your neighborhood.

But were Republican senators and representatives really expecting Attorney General Eric Holder to declare Tsarnaev an enemy combatant?

Given Holder's record as the nation's chief law enforcement officer -- and that should make all of us quake in our boots -- we should consider ourselves lucky if Tsarnaev is found guilty in a civilian court.

Holder is the guy that hauled the state of Arizona into court. What did Arizona do? Why, its legislators and citizens had the gall to pass a law making it tough to be an illegal immigrant in that state.

Our esteemed attorney general was having none of it. He challenged every part of Arizona's law. In essence, he sided with illegal immigrants against the law-abiding citizens of Arizona.

That, dear readers, is our friend-of-the-lawbreaker attorney general who's going to prosecute Tsarnaev for allegedly killing three people and maiming hundreds.

I hate to say it, but, with Holder as AG, I like Tsarnaev's odds of beating the rap. I don't know who his attorney will be, but Algonquin J. Calhoun, that incompetent lawyer of "Amos 'n Andy" fame, could probably get him off.

Washington Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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