Suspect Tsarnaev Unable to Be Questioned Yet

When he is, officials will skip his Miranda rights

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 20, 2013 5:49 AM CDT

(Newser) – For now, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev remains too seriously injured to be questioned by authorities, reports AP. But as soon as he's able, a special team of interrogators from the FBI, the CIA, and the Pentagon will grill him without reading him his Miranda rights. Authorities plan to invoke a rare "public safety exception" that allows them to question the 19-year-old without his lawyer present and without giving him the right to remain silent. The point is to find out whether other explosives or accomplices are still out there, and NBC News figures that he can be questioned without legal counsel for maybe 48 hours.

It's still way too early to determine whether Tsarnaev will be tried in military or civilian court. Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham issued a statement arguing that Tsarnaev should be held as an enemy combatant under the "law of war" and thus not entitled to the usual legal rights. That would result in a military commission, but NBC says the White House is determined to make this a civilian trial. CNN quotes Harvard's Alan Dershowitz as skeptical of the senators' approach. "There's no way an American citizen committing a domestic crime in the city of Boston could be tried as an enemy combatant," he said. "It could never happen. And that shows absolute ignorance of the law."

This still frame from video shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance.
This still frame from video shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance.   (AP Photo/Robert Ray)
This still frame from video shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance.
This still frame from video shows Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev visible through an ambulance.   (AP Photo/Robert Ray)
An ambulance carrying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev turns into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
An ambulance carrying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev turns into Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.   (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
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