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Here comes the 'BS' defense

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Saturday, April 27, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Ralph Peters is a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, author, novelist and Fox News analyst. Peters spoke to the Trib about the legal case against surviving Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Q: What do you think of the decision to try Tsarnaev in federal court?

A: I don't think we have a choice. He's an American citizen who committed a crime on American soil and although his sympathies were with the terrorist movement, he has no direct ties that we can see. His brother might have (had ties), but he didn't. But there's a deeper problem — first the Bush administration and now especially the Obama administration have so corrupted the military tribunal system that it's almost worthless. I mean, we have people in Guantanamo that should have been hanged years ago and they're still there. Political correctness has crept into the U.S. military legal system (and) in more cases than I would like, we have to rely on civilian courts.

Q: What's wrong with that?

A: The problem with these types of public trials in civilian courts is that they are huge propaganda gains for the terrorists. They bring headlines, and the terrorists can portray the accused as a martyr (and claim) the American system is railroading them, bullying them.

Q: How do you think the case against Tsarnaev will proceed?

A: That young man is not going to be put to death. He's too attractive. He's this doe-eyed kid, and the defense will portray him as having been led astray by his brother. He'll be portrayed as an innocent kid, not even 21 years old, a teenager who was seduced into the paths of violence and radicalism — and they won't say Islamic radicalism — by his brother. This is (tailor) made for a good defense team — you know, he didn't really mean it; everybody liked him; he was a good student; he was an American citizen; he celebrated the Fourth of July with pork hot dogs. You know, the whole BS thing.

Q: So you're convinced he'll get a life sentence?

A: No. He might, but they are going to play that youth card. If he cooperates with the police, he may be out in 20 years. But you know, he's got a lot of cards to play (including offering to) tell (authorities) everything they want to know. Except that he doesn't know much, because his brother was the one that had the connections back in Chechnya.

Q: You're suggesting that from an investigative standpoint, the wrong brother died in the battle with law enforcement?

A: Very much so. (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev) may know some things, but his brother (Tamerlan) was the key guy. But (even with him), when you take these low-level terrorists — and these guys were low level — when you take the guys who actually do the deed, they often don't have much for you.

Q: What else can you predict about the case?

A: It's going to cost us a lot of money to try him and incarcerate him. And as a prisoner, this guy is going to get better medical care than many poor native-born Americans. Everyone is obsessed about the rights of these prisoners. What about the rights of the people who had their legs blown off? How much have we heard about them? It's all about how sweet this kid was. I was just reading another piece in The Washington Post about how everybody liked him so much. Jesus — or Allah, take your pick — give me a (expletive) break.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or

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