The White House is aware of Republican arguments about trying Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as an enemy combatant in a military commission, but President Obama has decided to ignore their pleas and follow the law instead.
At a press briefing earlier, Jay Carney explained the administration's position clearly. For those who can't watch clips online, the White House press secretary told reporters:
"He will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under U.S. law, United States citizens cannot be tried in military commissions, and it is important to remember that since 9/11, we have used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists. The effective use of the criminal justice system has resulted in the interrogation, conviction, and detention of both U.S. citizens and non-citizens for acts of terrorism committed inside the United States and around the world.
"The system has repeatedly proven that it can successfully handle the threat we continue to face. There are a number of examples of this, high profile examples: the Times Square Bomber, Faisal Shahzad, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison; Abdul Muttalib, the so-called 'underwear bomber,' was sentenced to life in prison; Warsame, a Somalian national and member of al-Shabab and has close associations with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is now currently in this system and we have acquired valuable intelligence from him through the process that is allowed in the system. So this is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go. When it comes to United States citizens, it is against the law to try them in military commissions."
Well, that settles that, whether congressional Republicans like it or not.
In related news, Tsarnaev was formally charged today and was arraigned in his hospital room in front of a federal judge. He was charged with one count of using and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in the U.S. and one count of malicious destruction of property with an explosive device.