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Requirements on law enforcement officials to read ordinary criminals their Miranda rights come from a 1966 Supreme Court case. In order to protect against self-incrimination, police must first read suspects their rights if they want to use statements at trial that a defendant made while in custody.

The focus right now, the Republican lawmakers countered, should be on gathering intelligence from the suspect, not on a future domestic criminal trial that may take years to complete.

“We hope the Obama administration will consider the enemy combatant option because it is allowed by national security statutes and U.S. Supreme Court decisions,” they added.

Following the statement, the group of four Republicans also laid out the case for the administration relying on the law of war in their treatment of Mr. Tsarnaev, pointing to Supreme Court-tested elements of the military commission law Mr. Graham wrote and shepherded through the Senate.

According to that law, American citizens who attack the homeland or collaborate with U.S. enemies can be held as enemy combatants and are not entitled to Miranda rights or an attorney. The questioning of an enemy combatant for national security purposes has no limit or scope.

“In a case like this it could take weeks to prepare the questions are needed to be asked and months before intelligence gathering is completed,” the lawmakers argue.

Because the suspect is an American citizen, any future trial would be in the civilian courts, not through a military commission, a provision Mr. Graham personally authored.