Lindsey Graham’s terrible idea to try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combattant

Ever since the Boston Marathon bombing, GOP Senator Lindsay Graham has been working non-stop to exploit the tragedy for his political career, just like he did with Benghazi.

Wherever there was a TV camera to be found, Graham was in front of it to say the first thing that popped into his head, regardless of whether it was true, made sense or was even consistent with what he had said earlier.

Graham contradicts self on “enemy combattants”

Kos points out that Graham’s demand that Boston Marathon bombing suspect #2, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, be tried as an enemy combatant, is the exact opposite of what Graham stated when defending re-authorization of the National Defense Authorization Act:


Here’s Graham in the video:

“No-one can be held as an enemy combatant under the law that we have constructed unless they have their day in federal court… The only people who can be held under military custody are one that have been found to have associated with Al Qaeda in an overt way and the government has to prove that to a federal judge.”

According to what we know publicly, there is no evidence that Tsarnaev was in contact with Al Qaeda at all – he denies it as well – and no evidence of ‘overt’ association with any Islamic radical group, which he also denies. So as Graham himself declared during passage of the bill, there is no legal authority for holding Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant.

Lindsay Graham chick-fil-a

Wrong about chicken, wrong about terrorism.

The FBI and local police have together built a case that looks all but certain to result in a state murder conviction, and a nearly certain Federal conviction. Declaring Tsarnaev an enemy combatant, and putting him on trial in a military tribunal, has no advantages and numerous disadvantages. Not least, the fact that the US federal courts are much more likely to find the entire system of military tribunals unconstitutional (as they have already done once), than they are to permit the execution of the surviving Tsarnaev.

How to create more terrorists?  Listen to Graham.

In 1970, the Heath government in the UK adopted a Graham-type strategy. Terrorist suspects were interned, torture was used in interrogations. The number of deaths due to terrorism leapt from 17 in 1970 to 89 in 1971, and 249 in 1972. Internment created the Provisional IRA. Deaths in the province remained in the hundreds until 1977, when they suddenly dropped to 49 from 207 the year before. The deaths dropped when the UK authorities abandoned the Heath/Graham model of treating terrorists as military foes, and instead adopted the successful West German model of treating terrorists as ordinary criminals.

To paraphrase a discussion on the topic with Joseph Nye, the essence of terrorism is to amplify the effect of a very limited quantity of ‘hard power’ (bullets, bombs, etc.) with the ‘soft power’ of fear and panic. We don’t call people with significant hard power like tanks and planes ‘terrorists’, we call them armies.

Since 9/11, the GOP has used ‘terrorism’ as a pretext for increasing the already vast hard power of the US ,while abandoning its chief soft power assets. Carter and Reagan demolished Soviet soft power by focusing on the contrast between freedom of speech in the US and communist abuses of human rights.

Islamic fundamentalists turn the same tactic against the US contrasting the ‘purity’ of shariah law against the lawless US practice of internment, torture and drone strikes.

Graham’s demands won’t help us win the war on terrorism because they are the reason we are losing it.

The Tsarnaev brothers are more Columbine than 9/11

The Tsarnaev brothers bear little resemblance to earlier terrorist groups. They were “Islamic fanatics” who were rarely seen at the mosque. Their mother was a “devout Muslim,” currently facing charges for shoplifting. The target of their attack bears no particular connection to their presumed political motive. Far from being the new Bin Laden, the Tsarnaev brothers are akin to the new Harris and Klebold (the 17 and 18 year olds behind the Columbine massacre).

It appears that Tsarnaev’s primary motive was to kill people for the sake of killing people, with some odd generic “defense of Islam” excuse thrown in for good measure. Treating the surviving brother as a political prisoner, rather than as a suspect charged as a common criminal, only encourages others to follow their example.  It almost elevates the pair, treats them like some kind of criminal masterminds, and it’s something neither deserves.

It is important to remember that the Boston Marathon bombing was not the only explosion or terrorist act that week. If the prime suspect in the ricin attacks had been treated according to Graham’s demands, Paul Kevin Curtis would be in a military brig right now being waterboarded to reveal the names of his co-conspirators. Instead the FBI has concluded that the evidence linking Curtis to the crime might well be fake, intended to frame him and is considering other suspects.  (Curtis, poor dupe that he is, thought the police were accusing him of sending “rice” to the President, and told the police – I’m not making this up – “I don’t even eat rice.”  Sadly, our errors in apprehending terror suspects have not yet fully abated.)

The US didn’t create military tribunals because military tribunals are somehow more effective than civilian courts – they are not. The only reason that the kangaroo courts exist is the consequences of the Bush administration torture policy. If the inmates were put on trial in a civilian court, the government would be obliged to allow the copious evidence of torture to be admitted as evidence, which would in turn break open the hatches on the festering sewer of Bush administration crimes (and quite possible lead to the “evidence” being thrown out).

Do you really want to exonerate the Bush torture policy?

Declaring the surviving Tsarnaev to be an enemy combatant would put a bipartisan stamp on the military tribunal coverup of the Bush/Cheney torture regime, and delay the day of reckoning even further. But it is also possible that there is another motive, besides party loyalty – and his never-ending quest to use any tragedy for his own personal political benefit – behind Lindsey Graham’s attempt to bounce the administration on this. Besides being a member of the Congress, Graham served in the JAG corps working on ‘detainee issues’ during the Iraq war.

Perhaps Graham knows that if there is ever a full investigation into the Bush administration sewer, some of the excrement that will be uncovered will be his own.

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26 Responses to “Lindsey Graham’s terrible idea to try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combattant”

  1. Bill_Perdue says:

    “Why aren’t Carter, the Clintons, the Bushes and Obama being investigated for war crimes and refusing to defend American citizens.” My statement has absolutely no connection to your post at all.

    What on earth are you talking about. Reading is fundamental.

    Republicans and Democrats, including the criminals I mentioned, are responsible for the consequences of their terrorist aggression and genocide (in the case of Iraq) against Arab and muslim countries and that includes the counter-terrorist murders in Boston and on 9-11.

    And they’re responsible for the kind of deregulation frenzy so loved by the rich and managers which is deadly for working people.

  2. MyrddinWilt says:

    I think it is obvious why Carter is not being investigated for involvement in the bombing, he had nothing to do with it.

    I was going to bring up West but decided the piece was long enough. Republicans believe that three deaths caused by fireworks, pressure cookers and toy remote control cars are grounds to shred the constitution guarantee of liberty and justice but not regulating their gun hobby. And fifteen completely avoidable deaths caused by non existent Texas state regulation of a dangerous facility don’t even merit a second look.

  3. karmanot says:


  4. karmanot says:

    “Smells like treason to me.” It is.

  5. Mike Meyer says:

    Myrddin: EXCELLENT writeup&points.

    I think those boys got sick and tired of the RACISM&Muslim hate in this country, the bullying, so they got some paybacks.

  6. samizdat says:

    Internment gave us the Provos? Dog-damn, Britain, WTF? You created a monster.

    And now we have the tragedy of our own country not heeding the lessons of history, and find ourselves engaging in the same inhuman, barbaric tactics…and creating a wave of Islamic radicalism rolling across the Middle East, Africa, the subcontinent and South Asia. All because a few dozen ‘defense’ contractors now control our military. I feel such a seething anger towards these blood-sucking, parasitic, profiteering ghouls. The mindset necessary to completely disavow one’s humanity for the sake of profit is something I have difficulty comprehending. I suppose I can take some comfort in the knowledge that I’m not particularly enamored of money to such a pathologically unhealthy extent.

    Indeed, this is one of the things I find most disturbing about idiots like Miss Lindsey: the depths of their cynicism and greed has corrupted them to such a degree that it seems that they are incapable of simple human decency and empathy. And they not only have their hands in touch with conducting the affairs of government, but these cretinous lumps of bilious putrescence keep getting re-elected.

    It’s truly tragic to see how the torture of MarketingPRopaganda has driven so many of our fellow Americans to the brink of a mental breakdown.

    How the hell do you de-program millions of people?

  7. Bill_Perdue says:

    This is bs.

    In fact the whole furor about the Boston murders is pointed in the wrong direction. It was caused, without question, by the anti-Arab/muslim nations policies of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, the Bushes, the Clintons and Obama. Why aren’t Carter, the Clintons, the Bushes and Obama being investigated got war crimes and refusing to defend American citizens.

    That same weekend an explosion at the West Fertilizer Company plant on April 17 West, Texas, killed 14 people, injured more than 160 and destroyed dozens of buildings. That incident was like the explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig (April 20, 2010) that killed 11 workers and injured 16 others. Shortly before that an explosion Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch killed (April 5, 2010) killed 29 miners. (In 2010, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 workers were killed on the job—an average of 13 workers every day—and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. Workers suffer an additional 7.6 million to 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses each year. The cost of job injuries and illnesses is enormous—estimated at $250 billion to $300 billion a year).

    In all these cases a criminal lack of regulatory oversight by the every administration since Carter, all bought and paid for by management and the rich have cost thousands .

    Why weren’t the managers and major owners of BP. Haliburton (their contractor), massey Energy and West Fertilizer Company tracked down like the mad dog killers they are. Why weren’t the federal and state authorities in jail for life with no possibility.

  8. Miss Lindsey just loves seeing her name in the headlines. Keeps people from asking real questions…

  9. BeccaM says:

    Linsday Graham clearly hates America and all the ideals of liberty, justice, and freedom which we once held dear.

    In just the last five years, he has repeatedly held the entire U.S. economy hostage. Threatened to allow us to default on our debt, contrary to Constitutional requirements. He’s advocated for torture and for dispensing with due process — violating several of the Amendments to the Constitution, as well as international treaties to which the U.S. has been a signatory for decades. There’s little doubt that an impartial international court would easily find him complicit in overlooking and allowing war crimes to be committed.

    And here he is, urging the Justice Department to do something he has to know is blatantly illegal.

    Time and time again, Senator Graham has violated his oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and all its laws. Smells like treason to me.

  10. Clecinosu says:

    Keep fucking eating that chicken, Ms. Graham.

  11. nicho says:

    Aunt Pittypat!

  12. jomicur says:

    By assuring he is afforded ALL of his constitutional rights, we have the opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the world that our nation actually believes in all the values we claim to revere. (I’m assuming for the sake of argument that it isn’t already too late to demonstrate that.) That has the potential to be quite beneficial. By denying him his rights, we gain…what, exactly? I’m damned if I can figure that out.

  13. karmanot says:

    He can’t even channel his inner tough Scarlet O’Hara. —-more on the Blanche Dubois side I’d say.

  14. karmanot says:

    Unless he is named a toxic dump site.

  15. karmanot says:

    Lindsey’s boy love of McCain is rather pathetic.

  16. karmanot says:

    Many of us have been saying that for years—-even some NRA members. The NRA leadership is a clear and present danger to American citizens, even to the point of passing laws to prevent chemical tracers from identifying terrorist explosives.

  17. If I had my way the very notion of “enemy combatant” would be retroactively expunged from all recorded history. Was it ever meant as anything but a craven excuse to get away with abusing and torturing POWs? But I guess the evil concept is with us to stay. You can’t get the uranium back into the nice polished sphere.

  18. MyrddinWilt says:

    How about we just declare the NRA to be a terrorist organization and render Wayne laPierre to Gitmo as an enemy combatant?

  19. Mighty says:

    So then Graham would approve of abortion clinic bombers/dr killers to be enemy combatants? I doubt it. Yet they are terrorists too. Constitution should not be so expediently bypassed in my opinion.

  20. MyrddinWilt says:

    Yeah, I wondered what happened to the other one of the three amigos. Graham, Lieberman and McCain used to always be there for each other in a mutual backslapping display. But Lieberman is gone from the Senate and McCain seems less interested in mugging for the cameras on this one. Could we dare to hope that the old fraud is thinking of calling it quits in 2016?

  21. MyrddinWilt says:

    It is so difficult to write a piece on Graham without mentioning the fact that he looks and talks like Elmer Fudd when he is ‘hunting wabbits’.

    He is trying so desperately hard to look and act tough knowing that his body language signals the exact opposite. His every movement signals submission and passivity so he tries to talk tough.

  22. Dave of the Jungle says:

    Lindsey Graham must return all his hydrocarbons to the biosphere. John McCain, too.

  23. nicho says:

    Not entirely. He will some day become fertilizer. So he will have some use.

  24. Naja pallida says:

    In short, Lindsay Graham is a hypocrite, liar, and an overall douche nozzle, who thinks the Constitution is just simply an inconvenience to be worked around whenever necessary to further his own political goals.

  25. Excellent article–thanks.

  26. lynchie says:

    He is truly a waste of flesh.

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