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Republicans Urge Obama To Declare Suspected Boston Bomber An 'Enemy Combatant'

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AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Graham appeared Saturday on Fox News and labeled Tsarnaev a radical Islamist "on a jihad mission."

"The reason we wanted to capture him alive is find out about the attack and find out who he trained with and what connections to ... terrorism," the senator said "Ask the people in Boston. Radical jihadists are trying to attack us here at home. Every day we face threats from radical islamist and they are coming through our back yard and trying to radicalize American citizens."

On the other end are civil rights advocates, led by the American Civil Liberties Union, who insist that Tsarnaev should be tried in accordance with the criminal justice system.

"Every criminal defendant is entitled to be read Miranda rights. The public safety exception should be read narrowly," said ACLU's executive director Anthony Romero. "We must not waver from our tried-and-true justice system, even in the most difficult of times. Denial of rights is un-American and will only make it harder to obtain fair convictions."

For now, the Obama Justice Department has chosen Option C: a carveout under Miranda law that lets authorities interrogate a suspect under the public safety exemption without reading him Miranda rights.

About The Author

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Sahil Kapur is TPM's senior congressional reporter and Supreme Court correspondent. His articles have been published in the Huffington Post, The Guardian and The New Republic. Email him at sahil@talkingpointsmemo.com and follow him on Twitter at @sahilkapur.