The good news and the bad news: civilian court and the inevitable backlash

The good news and the bad news: civilian court and the inevitable backlash

by digby

The administration confirmed this morning that they will try the Boston Bombing suspect in federal court. Huge sigh of relief. He's been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction against persons and property which I believe means he's subject to the federal death penalty. I'm doubtful that this will be good enough for the wingnuts who have worked themselves into a fine froth but then, nothing would.

I do think this "weapon of mass destruction" phrase is ridiculous, particularly in light of the fact that someone with semi-automatic weapons that mows down 20 to 30 children would not be subject to this charge, but some homemade pressure cooker bombs are considered right up there with a loose nuke. It's irrational, as this Spencer Ackerman piece from a month or so ago demonstrates. It's basically a way to keep "terrorism" as a vague, catch-all term the authorities can use at their discretion, which isn't a good idea.

And I'm against the death penalty as a matter of principle, so I can't say this makes me want to fist pump "USA! USA!" But I'm grateful the administration didn't succumb to the pressure that rose almost immediately from the right wing to throw the constitution out the window. (It's amazing how often I'm grateful for things I never would have even thought were a question not that long ago.)

Update: From what I just heard on the Teevee, the Benghazi Shrill Band (McCain, Graham, Ayotte and King) are about to launch a full-blown hissy fit over this, so get ready.

Update II: Emptywheel has the latest on the complaint:

It charges Dzhokhar with two counts: unlawfully conspiring to use a WMD (which is a terrorism charge) and maliciously destroying, by use of an explosive, property used in interstate and foreign commerce, resulting in death. The WMD charge is completely consistent with past charges, though it is used more consistently with Muslim terrorists than with white terrorists (though it was used, then plead down, against the Spokane MLK bomber, who used a bomb similar to the one Dzhokhar allegedly used).

The complaint describes what surveillance footage of Dzhokhar shows just after he dropped his knapsack on the ground outside the Forum Restaurant: read on

Obviously, the presumption of innocence is important here. We don't know the whole story by a long shot. But that criminal complaint is very damning. They even have the white cap.