April 16th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
2 years 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. Slinky

    Is everyone happy now? I mean, he used the magic word now, so that changes everything, right? Oh, wait..it changes nothing. But the haters just LOVE to obsess over the use, or lack of use, of that one little word. Will it satisfy them, now that the word has been spoken? Of course not. The haters hate. They don't need a logical reason, they just need to feed their irrational hate.

    April 16, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Rob

    Liberalism is about control. Their first reaction will be to attempt to control. Video surveillance on all streets??

    April 16, 2013 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  3. frank

    iit does matter if it is terrorism or not....of course it is terrorism, it is the classic definition. it is not a homicide and it is not Sports place violence either!!!!

    April 16, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  4. liberal disease

    took him 5 years to admit that we have terrorist who hate us regardless of who the President is and no matter how much he appeases them!

    April 16, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "Liberals like Hoyer and Franks are blaming this on the sequester and you say conesratives are attacking liberals?"

    But I thought you duys were 100% convinced that this is "Obama's sequester" and everyone agrees with you about that? So why would you assume that poiting out that the sequester may have played a role is an attack on GOPers/Teatrolls?

    April 16, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    "Their first reaction will be to attempt to control."

    Yeah, they'll probably invent some crazy piece of legislation and call it the "Patriot Act" or something and then call anyone who opposed it "unAmerican" in between bites of "freedom fries", right?

    April 16, 2013 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  7. sly

    Most likely a white domestic tea-party terrorist. Al Queda doesn't spend millions of dollars to get a person into the US to blow up some ball-bearings and kill 2 people.

    We'll find out. But reading all the anti-Obama posts on here, which are obviously irrelevanat, makes me think it's guys like Bradley Meyers and such blogging here that could have planted those bombs.

    Tighten our border security, yes, but MOST of the enemy is the right-wing Tea Bag party – guys like Rubio are behind this sort of stuff.

    Remeber Tim McVeigh.

    April 16, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  8. Wake up People!

    @Panama J. Craig.

    So President Obama is responsible for the things that occurred 8 years ago??? You do realize he has only been in office 4 years right???

    April 16, 2013 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Patricia

    I wonder if anyone has thought that North Korea could be behind this??

    April 16, 2013 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. Mrs. Time

    Terrorism is not exclusive to any one race or religion. This is something people need to understand.

    April 16, 2013 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Kevin

    Isaiah 45:7 (King James Version):
    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

    If God would stop hardening people's hearts against each other..there would be no violence...

    April 16, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. FubarObama

    Thanks for that confirmation Mr President. IDIOT

    April 16, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  13. Jon Dough

    "Any time bombs are used to target civilians, it is an act of terrorism,"

    So when the US bombed a wedding in Afghanistan yesterday killing 30+ men women, and children and injuring hundreds more was that an act of terrorism?

    April 16, 2013 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  14. Benghazi Bozo

    It's a shame so many people are so full of hate they look for petty things like "did the president call it terror." Why does that matter at all? He's mobilized resources to catch the perpetrators. I certainly don't hope your loved ones are ever harmed, but if they are, I really sincerely doubt you will be super concerned about the president's exact words.

    April 16, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Ricky

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

    Campaign finance reform at its finest.

    April 16, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  16. Kanageloa

    It's about time he woke up and starts to realize we're hated but not for who we were. We're hated because our way of life and culture are a threat to other's control of their people through what ever means possible. Freedom scares a lot of dictators and oppressors.

    April 16, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  17. lspoldis

    Hey Jack!! remember Benghazi? no answers, no accountability, no clue, and I agree he was not reading a book while the massacre in Benghazi was happening. HE WENT TO SLEEP!!!!!

    April 16, 2013 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  18. Michael

    At least it didn't take as long to recognize this was a "terrorist attack" as it took to recognize that the event in Benghazi was a "terrorist attack".

    April 16, 2013 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  19. Canuck

    @Rob
    "Liberalism is about control"

    Is that the best comment you can come up with in the face of this awful tragedy? Really???

    April 16, 2013 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  20. Ed

    So it appears now that there are acts of terror but just not Muslim terrorists becuase Obama doesn't like to use those words. After Obama apologized to every Muslim nation he could find, refuses to call any Muslim a terrorist and has promoted "good will" with all Muslim people – hard to believe that Muslims would do more acts of terror in the U.S. Well not that hard to believe if you understand that they hate us, always will and want us all dead.. They just reminded us of that.

    April 16, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  21. davecu

    When your doctor removes nails and ball bearinsg from your back, no doubt there is terror in mind.

    April 16, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  22. gerg999

    How about the possibility that this is a mass murder, perpetrated by a nut case with a narrow viewpoint...like hating the military, hating parades; something like the pro-life forces that feel bombing abortion clinics and shooting abortion doctors is a justifiable offense...

    Funny how our local radio station (Washington DC) that carries Limbaugh, etc....one commentator was going on how he was only commenting on the event as it unfolded, that he didn't have all the facts yet...then a caller says that Obama used the term tragedy (instead of terror)...that tragedy is used for plays, etc... the caller is right, except in the general sense, we ALL use tragedy to describe a horrible event such as this... then the Commentator started to bash Obama and said he should have said "terror"...after saying he (the commentator) didn't have all the facts yet. Point is, WE STILL DON'T KNOW PERPETRATED THIS "TRAGIC" and brutal murderous crime. Let Law Enforcement figure it out, find the creeps and then we" know what the real score is.

    April 16, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. Ed

    So it appears now that there are acts of terr0r but just not Muslim terr0rists becuase Obama doesn't like to use those words. After Obama apologized to every Muslim nation he could find, refuses to call any Muslim a terr0rist and has promoted "good will" with all Muslim people – hard to believe that Muslims would do more acts of terr0r in the U.S. Well not that hard to believe if you understand that they hate us, always will and want us all dead.. They just reminded us of that.

    April 16, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  24. Ed

    So it appears now that there are acts of terr0r but just not Muslim terr0rists becuase Obama doesn't like to use those words. After Obama apologized to every Muslim nation he could find, refuses to call any Muslim a terr0rist and has promoted "good will" with all Muslim people – hard to believe that Muslims would do more acts of terr0r in the U.S. Well not that hard to believe if you understand that they dispise us, always will and want us all gone.. They just reminded us of that.

    April 16, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "We're hated because our way of life and culture are a threat to other's control of their people through what ever means possible. Freedom scares a lot of dictators and oppressors."

    Freedom is a scary thing when abused. Having the largest military industrial complex in the world BY FAR and using it arbitrarily, based on lies and disinformation, to engage in wars of convenience solely to further corporate imperialist goals IS SCARY BEHAVIOR. We're feared and hated because we pretend to have the right to police the entire planet in an attempt to make everyone behave the way WE want everyone else to behave. No amount of "well, they should just recognize that we're right and start being civilized and obeying our commands" wins arguments in favor of that behavior, and no amount of rationalization trying to justify the things our country has done will change the fact that people will respond with fear and hatred when you do those things to them and their country. It has nothing to do with whether we were right or wrong and as soon as people start to get that, the sooner we can hopefully stop engages in those behaviors.

    April 16, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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