Sunday, June 24, 2018
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.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18