The Slatest

The Trump Administration Says It Considers the NYC Attack Suspect an “Enemy Combatant”

President Trump at a meeting with his Cabinet on Wednesday in Washington. During his remarks, Trump commented on the terror attack in New York City.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

The Trump administration has said it considers the New York terror attack suspect to be an “enemy combatant.” By so labeling the suspect through the president’s war powers, the administration can detain him as it would a prisoner of war.

The announcement follows urging by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who said they thought the suspect should be taken to the American prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

The suspected attacker, Sayfullo Saipov, is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. whom police consider to have been domestically radicalized. But McCain argued that the distinction didn’t matter. “He’s a terrorist and he should be kept there,” John McCain told reporters. “And there’s no Miranda rights for somebody who kills Americans.”


McCain later clarified in a written statement that Saipov “should be held and interrogated—thoroughly, responsibly, and humanely—as an enemy combatant consistent with the Law of Armed Conflict. He should not be read Miranda Rights, as enemy combatants are not entitled to them.” The Law of Armed Conflict governs international armed conflicts and protects prisoners of war.

According to the New York Times, no one arrested on American soil has ever been sent to Guantánamo Bay. Since 2008, no one has been sent there at all.

While arguing for Saipov to be labeled an enemy combatant, McCain also voiced support for repealing the visa lottery Trump has partially blamed for the attack. Trump has already urged Congress to eliminate the program.