April 16th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
12 months ago

Obama calls attack 'terror'

Washington (CNN) - The bomb attacks at the finish line of Monday's Boston Marathon were a "heinous and cowardly act" that the FBI is investigating as an act of terrorism, President Barack Obama said Tuesday.

"Any time bombs are used to target civilians, it is an act of terrorism," Obama said, adding that it remained unclear who carried out the attack and why. It was the first time the president used the word "terror" to refer to the deadly bombs.

Later in the day, Vice President Joe Biden vowed to "get to the bottom" of Monday's terror attack, which left three dead and scores wounded.

"We don't have any hard information yet," Biden said on his way to an event on Capitol Hill. "But I can assure we will find out who did it and bring them to justice."

Asked whether there was a sense among investigators of whether the attack originated from a foreign or domestic perpetrator, Biden said, "Not yet."

Obama, making his second formal statement following Monday's blasts, said said investigators do not yet know "who carried out this attack or why, whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization foreign or domestic or was the act of a malevolent individual."

President Barack Obama receives an update on the explosions that occurred in Boston, in the Oval Office, April 16, 2013. Seated, from left, are: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Advisor; Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to the Vice President; Attorney General Eric Holder; Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism; Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; and FBI Director Robert Mueller. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

On Monday, as details of the attack were emerging, Obama delivered a brief statement that avoided the use of the word "terror." He said then he had ordered the "full resources" of the federal government to respond to the bombing.

"Make no mistake, we will get to the bottom of this, and we will find out who did this, we'll find out why they did this," he said.

Any individuals or groups responsible for the "senseless" bombing, he added, will "feel the full weight of justice."

Officials in Washington, who entered the week prepared for battle over immigration and gun control, shifted focus Tuesday to the aftermath of the deadly terror bombing.

Obama ordered the flag above the White House lowered to half-staff, while inside he was huddling with top advisers, receiving the latest details on the investigation into the attack. CNN spotted Vice President Joe Biden, FBI Director Robert Mueller, Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano headed into the White House Tuesday morning.

Other events on his schedule – including a meeting with Sens. John McCain and Chuck Schumer on immigration reform – were still slated to go forward. In the afternoon, Obama will honor last year's NASCAR sprint cut champion Brad Keselowski during a ceremony on the South Lawn.

Cabinet members, along with national security and counterterrorism staff, will convene Tuesday evening to brief the president at the White House, though an official said this wasn't a full Cabinet meeting.

Other events in Washington were pushed aside after Monday's bombing. A planned press conference unveiling of the Senate's immigration bill was postponed, though the legislation was still expected to be filed Tuesday.

Another top piece of legislation – gun control – had already been delayed in the Senate as supporters worked to win over more votes. And two congressmen, Reps. Pete King, R-New York, and Mike Thomas, D-California, introduced a background checks bill identical to the Senate measure that was unveiled last week.

But a call-in event on guns sponsored by Organizing for Action, a political group formed from Obama's presidential campaign, was scrapped.

CNN National Political Correspondent Jim Acosta contributed to this report.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (250 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    As I suspected. All of the media attention has been diverted from the gun debate and immigration to the Boston bombing. Makes me think this was a ploy by the gun lobby to shift the attention off of the votes being held this week.

    April 16, 2013 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  2. much thunder..little rain

    the truth is there is evil people in this world....terrorist....who hate america...we must always be on alert..

    April 16, 2013 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. Sniffit

    "As I suspected. All of the media attention has been diverted from the gun debate and immigration to the Boston bombing. Makes me think this was a ploy by the gun lobby to shift the attention off of the votes being held this week."

    Yep, and even then all they want to talk about is whether Obama used the "T-word" yet, because they got oodles of breathless political reporting and debate out of a fabricated controversy over whether Obama used the "T-word" to describe Benghazi, so now they no longer care about whether something is actually known to be terrorism or not...they simply see this as an oppoertunity to raise that "controversy" from the dead. You disgust us, CNN. Truly.

    April 16, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    As I suspected. All of the media attention has been diverted from the gun debate and immigration to the Boston bombing. Makes me think this was a ploy by the gun lobby to shift the attention off of the votes being held this week.
    -------
    You're going to look mighty foolish.... MIGHTY foolish.

    April 16, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Name lynn

    All i can say is we are praying for the people an their families, its something that people cant enjoy life with killing an setting off bombs, the government letting the people from others countries come to america an now they are bombing and killing he american people. whats next.

    April 16, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Sniffit

    "You're going to look mighty foolish.... MIGHTY foolish."

    We'll see what happens. I don't subscribe to any conspiracy theories about this, but there's only so much to report about while there's so little known. The MSM is going to wring this thing silly for all the alarmist, emotional, demagoguery they can get out of it. It deserves attention. What it did to the victims and our city deserves attention. But life goes on in other aspects too, and if all the MSM is going to do is regurgitate the same crap over and over and over while nothing much of anything is going on or known, and use it all as an excuse to generate views/clicks with alarming photographs of the victims' blood on the sidewalks or replays of the incident as it happened, then that's not really reporting on it. That's not journalism. It's nothing more than milking it, and that kind of sensationalism does a disservice to the victims, law enforcement, the City of Boston and the national discourse. In the end, because of that nonsense, the breathless, alarmist pearl-clutchers in the MSM do just as much to terrorize the public as the perpetrators of these acts.

    April 16, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. Name lynn

    Whos raising up their hands an saying i set off them bombs, what the heck.

    April 16, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  8. Yoshi Togukawa

    Dutch: you have issues that absolutely have to be resolved before you take any important decisions. Be very careful when you go out, as zombies and Martians are after you

    April 16, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    You're going to look mighty foolish.... MIGHTY foolish.
    -----------------------------------
    So far the MSM is pulling at strings. There are no strong facts in this case to report on so, the MSM is doing what it does best: making up news as they go.

    April 16, 2013 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  10. Fair is Fair

    Sniffit

    "You're going to look mighty foolish.... MIGHTY foolish."

    We'll see what happens. I don't subscribe to any conspiracy theories about this, but there's only so much to report about while there's so little known. The MSM is going to wring this thing silly for all the alarmist, emotional, demagoguery they can get out of it. It deserves attention. What it did to the victims and our city deserves attention. But life goes on in other aspects too, and if all the MSM is going to do is regurgitate the same crap over and over and over while nothing much of anything is going on or known, and use it all as an excuse to generate views/clicks with alarming photographs of the victims' blood on the sidewalks or replays of the incident as it happened, then that's not really reporting on it. That's not journalism. It's nothing more than milking it, and that kind of sensationalism does a disservice to the victims, law enforcement, the City of Boston and the national discourse. In the end, because of that nonsense, the breathless, alarmist pearl-clutchers in the MSM do just as much to terrorize the public as the perpetrators of these acts.
    --------
    And yet here we are, feeding the beast. Says a lot about us, huh?

    April 16, 2013 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  11. Hammerer

    "We'll see what happens."

    Judging by past events one tends to expect that the government will tilt the account that best suits their agenda.
    Sad that most have no confidence in the ability of the government to be truthful.

    April 16, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    And it begins: Steve King (R-IA), someone who jumped ont he "terror baby" bandwagon Louis Gomhert built, is already trying to use this in the immigration debate to jusify pushback and delay against reform.

    April 16, 2013 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    My man Sniffit!!! Thank you!!

    April 16, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  14. Fair is Fair

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    You're going to look mighty foolish.... MIGHTY foolish.
    -----------–
    So far the MSM is pulling at strings. There are no strong facts in this case to report on so, the MSM is doing what it does best: making up news as they go.
    -----
    And exactly what does that have to do with you posting crackpot conspiracy theories in 2 separate articles today? Clue... NOTHING. Zero, zilch, nada, bubkes. Which is WHY you look foolish.

    April 16, 2013 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  15. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    What we don't yet know...is who carried out this attack or why, whether it was planned and executed by a terrorist organization, foreign or domestic, or was the act of a malevolent individual," the president continued
    -------------------------------------------------
    Memo to Tagg Romney: This is how intelligent, reponsible people should speak to the public about the bombing in Boston, not trying to pit one group against another. Clear, concise, non-inflamatory speech based on a what little facts have surfaced which so far have been NONE.
    Tagg is what I call a rabble-rouser.
    Thank you Mr. President. Your statement was spot on and very much needed.

    April 16, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  16. David

    Maybe if we had some more restrictive laws about building and emplacing Improvised Eplosive Devices, this could have been prevented?? As horrific as this tragic event was, the American people need to wake up and realise that this will continue to happen throughout our country when ever and where ever some derranged individual wants to do it. Yesterday was Boston, tomorrow could be a grammer school play in a small rural town? that is the world we live in and the world that som many americans thought they would only experience through the 6 oclock news. I have been i nthe Marine Corps for 28 years and intend to finish at 30. I have deployed 12 times in my career for 6 – 12 months each time. 5 of those were to Iraq and Afghanistan. We can make all the laws we want and put all the restrictions on things that we can think about... in the end, bad people will find a way and they will do bad things and we will still try to find someway to blame ourselves for not having enough laws or restrictions, instead of just looking at it for what it is.

    April 16, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  17. ST

    @ Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House
    I tend to agree with you on your profound. Myself, I do not see any incentive/motives which made the bomber to attack those poor runners. It wasn't there. Nothing is boiling up in the heads of many more than what you have mentioned. You might be quite right though some will demand the concrete proof instead of taking the circumstantial one.

    April 16, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  18. Palin Power

    This would have never happened if Sarah Palin is president. President Palin has the power of God and she will protect this country from such attacks. We need her as our next and greatest President.

    April 16, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  19. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Sniffit
    That's not journalism. It's nothing more than milking it, and that kind of sensationalism does a disservice to the victims, law enforcement, the City of Boston and the national discourse. In the end, because of that nonsense, the breathless, alarmist pearl-clutchers in the MSM do just as much to terrorize the public as the perpetrators of these acts.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Right the hell on Sniffit!!!!
    Right the hell on!

    April 16, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  20. samantha

    Oh my, Obama has finally realized that terrorism exists in this world and in our country. He, his administration and democrats HAD BEEN IN DENIAL to use the word "terror" and terrorism! And CNN finally woke up too as they've been in bed with Obama's ideology that terrorism is a bad word.

    April 16, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. Lynda/Minnesota

    Sniffit

    And it begins:
    ----------

    Yes, Sniffit.

    It Begins.

    [ And, the media wouldn't have it any other way ]

    April 16, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. Cephus

    Go get them Mr. President you come from a lineage of great warriors use any means necessary and send some home who slept on the job.

    April 16, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  23. BP

    I am so proud of our president for having the courage to use the T word terrorism. I'm sure his fan base was hoping he would have used the words Tea Party.

    April 16, 2013 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  24. Aaron

    Chris Matthews couldn't wait to say he thinks it was a right winger. Shows the class over at MSNBC...or the lack there of...

    April 16, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  25. Al

    Finally. Someone told Obama it was terrorism. He coudn't figure that out yesterday??? It wasn't a bad water heater Mr. so called president. get with it and show some leadership. Not 24 hours later after you have analyzed your political response.

    April 16, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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