Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the second suspect of the last week's Boston marathon bombings, is not an enemy combatant as it is against the law to try US citizens under military conditions, the White House said on Monday.
"He is not an enemy combatant. We will prosecute him under the existing law. When it comes to US citizens it is against the law to try them under military conditions," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference.
"The whole national security team supports this decision," Carney said responding to questions on the decision of the Obama administration not to treat the Boston bombing suspect as an enemy combatant, which has been criticised by top Republican lawmakers.
The White House, however, refrained from giving any details of ongoing investigation on Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
"There is a comprehensive investigation underway. As you heard the president say on Friday, we need to know everything we can about why this happened, what the motivation was, how it happened. And all of those issues are under investigation," Carney said in response to a question.
"He (Dzhokhar) will not be treated as an enemy combatant. We will prosecute this terrorist through our civilian system of justice. Under US law, United States citizens cannot be tried, rather, in military commissions," Carney said in response to another question.
It is important to remember that since 9/11 the US has used the federal court system to convict and incarcerate hundreds of terrorists, he said.
The effective use of the criminal justice system has resulted in the interrogation, conviction and detention of both US citizens and non-citizens for acts of terrorism committed inside the United States and around the world.
The system has repeatedly proven that it can successfully handle the threat that we continue to face, he observed.
Carney said there are a number of examples of such high-profile cases.
The Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.
"Abdulmutallab, the so-called underwear bomber, was sentenced to life in prison. Warsame, a Somali national who was a member of al-Shabab and has close associations with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is now currently in this system. And we have acquired valuable intelligence from him through the process that is allowed in this system. So this is absolutely the right way to go and the appropriate way to go. And when it comes to United States citizens, it is against the law to try them in military commissions," he said.
The White House defended the FBI's role on the information it received from Russia with regard to the elder brother of the suspect.
"The FBI did extraordinary work in responding to this attack, identifying the suspects and working with state and local authorities to bring them to justice," he said, adding that it is clear that the FBI followed up on the information that it received about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother; they investigated it thoroughly and did not find terrorist activity, domestic or foreign.
"However, as the president said last week, the investigation called for answers to a number of questions, why this was done, what the motivations were, how it was done, any possible associations that the suspects may have had," Carney said.
"All of this is being investigated, and I think that you absolutely can expect that all the agencies involved, as part of the broader investigation, are examining these issues," he said.
Image: A photograph of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is seen on his Vkontakte page.
Photograph: Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters