Thursday, December 14, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Bombing is a case for criminal court

Considering the chaos of the crime scene and the piles of evidence, it was a remarkable feat that FBI and local law enforcement were able to so quickly focus on the Tsarnaev brothers as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. But not everyone is applauding the Justice Department. Some congressional Republicans are criticizing the decision to file criminal charges in federal court against 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They want the administration to designate him as an enemy combatant and deny him basic due process, which would violate America's commitment to fair and impartial justice.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was one of the earliest to demand that Tsarnaev be treated as a war criminal. Now other Republicans, including Rep. Peter King of New York and Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have made the same argument. But the investigation into Tsarnaev and his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan, who died during a shootout with police, has not unearthed any evidence to suggest that the men are part of al-Qaida or another overseas terrorist network. The fact that the brothers are Chechen and Muslim does not automatically implicate them in a wider terror conspiracy.

Graham and others are using the Boston bombing to paint President Barack Obama as weak on terrorism. But Graham knows, since he helped write the law governing military commissions, that turning over Tsarnaev to military custody would create a legal morass. As a naturalized American citizen, Tsarnaev is not subject to a military trial, and only noncitizens can be tried by military commission. Graham would have Tsarnaev sent from the FBI to the military to be interrogated without a lawyer, and then switched back to federal criminal court for prosecution. That would set a dangerous precedent.

To its credit, the Obama administration has stuck to its policy of prosecuting terror suspects who are American citizens in the federal courts. Tsarnaev is facing federal charges of conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction. He potentially faces the death penalty. Federal prosecutors have done a highly effective job putting terrorists away — convicting nearly 500 individuals on terrorism-related charges since 9/11. So far the military commissions have convicted only seven detainees.

A less clear-cut issue is the Obama administration's decision to question the severely injured Tsarnaev without initially providing Miranda warnings — those police-recited lines that remind a suspect of his right to remain silent and to an attorney. If the Miranda warnings are not given, any subsequent confession cannot be used as evidence at trial. But the administration claims that Tsarnaev's case fit an exception that allows interrogation if there is an urgent threat to public safety.

Had Tsarnaev been healthy enough to be questioned immediately upon capture, the exception almost certainly would apply, since the brothers could have planted other bombs. But that time has passed, Tsarnaev has a lawyer and the issue appears settled for now.

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17