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WSJ editors: Boston bombings should moderate Rand Paul

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The legal debate over when and whether Boston terror suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be read his Miranda rights and provided with a lawyer is an ongoing one. Some Republican senators (Kelly Ayotte, John McCain and Lindsey Graham) are arguing that Tsarnaev, an American citizen, should be deemed an enemy combatant and turned over to the military legal process, thus denying him a civilian trial and all the rights that come with it.

On their side is the Wall Street Journal, which says the bombings demonstrate that U.S. soil is part of the larger "battlefield" in the war on terror.

From Monday's editorial in the Journal:

The Boston bombing also ought to chasten Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and other libertarians who keep insisting that the U.S. homeland is not part of the terror battlefield.

"It's different overseas than it will be here. It's different in the battlefield than it will be here," Mr. Paul told Fox News earlier this year. "Which gets precisely to the argument I have with some other Republicans who say, well, 'the battlefield is everywhere, there is no limitation.' President Obama says this. Some members of my party say the battle has no geographic limitations and the laws of war apply. It's important to know that the law of war that they're talking about means no due process."

Boylston Street sure looked like a battlefield on Monday, and so did Watertown on Thursday night. The artificial distinction is Mr. Paul's focus on geography. The vital distinction for public safety is between common criminals, who deserve due process protections, and enemy combatants at war with the U.S., wherever they are.

The New York Times argued the opposite Monday.

@eScarry

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