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. gerg999

    So...do we know this is an act of terror, or is this a murderous event perpetrated by a zealot with a delusional cause...like McVeigh; like pro-lifers who bomb abortion clinics and kill abortion doctors; like Major Hussein who killed 13 military personnel; like the Columbine massacre, etc., etc... So many are quick to condemn the President for holding back on calling this an act of terror... Why give credit or credence to Al Kayda or the Taliban when they may not be deserving of the crime... maybe it is just some loon with a narrow focus - like the Una-bomber; Timothy McVeigh; Pro-Lifers (who bomb abortion clinics and kill abortion doctors)...

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

    "Video surveillance on all streets??"

    Get a clue. There were already public surveillance cameras in place. Spend more time looking for facts instead of rinsing out your thought processes, such as they arem, with caustic Faux News brain bleach.

    April 16, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Isoldis

    Remember Osama Bin Laden? No answers, no accountability, no clue. GWB gave the mastermind of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil a slap on the wrist and a free pass over the border into nuclear-based Pakistan where he was able to recruit and train more terrorists to plot to attack Americans again. And what did GWB and his cabinet do? They wavered and fell asleep on the job A matter of fact, GWB said he wasn't interested in finding OBL. And it was President Obama who went after OBL a decade later and gave the directive to our Navy SEALS to get the job done. But its understandable that you weren't aware of these facts cause you been under a rock.

    April 16, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. F the dem-s

    This was an act of terror commited by a domestic democrat terrorist like Bill Ayers (Obama's best friend). End of story.

    April 16, 2013 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  5. adfasdfa

    This was an act of terror commited by a domestic democrat terrorist like Bill Ayers (Obama's best friend). End of story.

    April 16, 2013 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  6. Sam Wilson

    I wonder if Candy Crowley will have to bail Obama out once again?

    April 16, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  7. Smokey

    If I had to hazard a guess between the three possibilities the President mentioned – a foreign group, a domestic group, or a malevolent individual – I would guess the latter. First of all, despite the terror this bombing inflicted, these were not sophisticated devices, there was no high explosive used, they used materials you'd expect to find in a garage. Second, the Patriots' Day/Boston/Waco/OKC bombing angle points to a disturbed individual more than it does any sort of organization. My guess is that there is one or maybe two or three random, messed-up jerks responsible for this.

    It further disturbs me that people are so unable to let go of their political angles even when tragedy strikes. If anything, tragedies like this, or like the mass shootings that have happened recently, have caused people to break out into cases of extreme political rhetoric. Less than 24 hours later, it's all, can I pin this on the other side somehow? It's bizarre, it's disgusting, it goes both ways here and it does a disservice to those who are hurting and those who are sacrificing to help them, c'mon people, let go of your political obsessions for just a little while. Heck, it's most likely someone or someones with a political obsession of some sort that perpetrated this in the first place. Stuff like that makes you lose your grip on reality, and start saying and sometimes doing crazy things.

    April 16, 2013 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. sly

    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
    --–

    Really, I thought it was because of the thousands of innocent women and children we've murdered in foreign countries every year for the past 10-20 years.

    Y'all are all upset about 2 dead people? You do realize we kill over 2 civilians every day around the world.

    Goes around, comes around. Canada has a nice government, but for some strange reason no one attacks them. Or any of the other 50-100 democracies around the world.

    Nope – we earned our attacks.

    April 16, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  9. Homer Simpson

    S craig, are the nearly 5 thousand killed in a war based on lies, for no-bid military contracts innocent? bush and cheney shoould be hanged for crimes against humanity worst administration in our countrys history, plain and simple

    April 16, 2013 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. sparrowhawk

    Oh please, please, please be a white domestic terrorist! Oh please!

    April 16, 2013 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. sparrowhawk

    Gun violence killed and wouned almost as many over the weekend in Chicago.

    April 16, 2013 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -sly

    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
    ––

    Really, I thought it was because of the thousands of innocent women and children we've murdered in foreign countries every year for the past 10-20 years.

    Y'all are all upset about 2 dead people? You do realize we kill over 2 civilians every day around the world.

    Goes around, comes around. Canada has a nice government, but for some strange reason no one attacks them. Or any of the other 50-100 democracies around the world.

    Nope – we earned our attacks.
    ************
    Right. That 8-year old kid earned his death sentence. His sister deserved to have her leg blow off, and his mother deserves brain damage. Get off your high horse and start processing what happned a little over 24 hours ago, right here.

    April 16, 2013 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  13. Ray

    Well I see the haters are out in full force in here. The Libs/Dems are going full bore on "It was the Teaparty" or a right winger that did this. You people are no better than what you say the Right is.You come out and started from the gitgo it was a Taeparty person that did this. The President was cold with his remarks.Unfeeling and looked like he was not happy to be bothered with this. He is the leader of America.It is His Job to be here when something like this goes down. He will find a way to exploite the child that died in this attack on America.But He will also try to find a way to blame the GOP or Teaparty for this. The man needs to be a leader not a puppet on a string. We will see in the next few day/weeks just what kind of leader we have. G.W.Bush did what had to be done in short order. You Libs still say it was for nothing ,He had no proof.But it was you Libs that said go for it Hussain has the bombs and gas to kill millions..They was not found so it was a lie. The whole World thought Hussain had them.Not We know for a fact Two Bombs were set off in Boston.Who you going to Blame for a Lackluster Responce?
    \

    April 16, 2013 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. brownie

    obama has weaken homeland security thats the reason why terrorist attack innocent americans in boston

    April 16, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  15. wrm

    Who cares what it's called? It is what it is.

    April 16, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @F

    No, it was committed by your worthless homeless mama.

    April 16, 2013 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @brownie
    obama has weaken homeland security thats the reason why terrorist attack innocent americans in boston

    April 16, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
    ************************************************************************************************************************************

    Bwaaaaaaaahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahaahha. You're cute.

    Not.

    April 16, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Sam Wilson

    We are all aware that the democrat party never lets a crisis go to waste politically. I wonder how they will use this tragedy to their political advantage. By looking at the way Obama took advantage of the Sandy Hook tragedy by using the grieving parents as a cynical weapon to beat his opponents over the head to promote his political agenda, I expect nothing less from Obama with this tragedy. I can't wait to see how he uses this one to take even more of our freedoms from us in the name of the common good? You know it is coming and many of you lemmings will follow him over the
    cliff just as you have in the past.

    April 16, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. The Real Tom Paine

    -Ray

    Well I see the haters are out in full force in here. The Libs/Dems are going full bore on "It was the Teaparty" or a right winger that did this. You people are no better than what you say the Right is.You come out and started from the gitgo it was a Taeparty person that did this. The President was cold with his remarks.Unfeeling and looked like he was not happy to be bothered with this. He is the leader of America.It is His Job to be here when something like this goes down. He will find a way to exploite the child that died in this attack on America.But He will also try to find a way to blame the GOP or Teaparty for this. The man needs to be a leader not a puppet on a string. We will see in the next few day/weeks just what kind of leader we have. G.W.Bush did what had to be done in short order. You Libs still say it was for nothing ,He had no proof.But it was you Libs that said go for it Hussain has the bombs and gas to kill millions..They was not found so it was a lie. The whole World thought Hussain had them.Not We know for a fact Two Bombs were set off in Boston.Who you going to Blame for a Lackluster Responce?
    **********************
    #1, learn to spell. #2, unless you have something of real substance to offer other than personal attacks on the President, keep it to yourself. Paid shills are never welcome at a good time, and this tragedy does not qualify as a good time.

    April 16, 2013 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. The Real Tom Paine

    -sparrowhawk

    Gun violence killed and wouned almost as many over the weekend in Chicago.
    ****************
    Wouned? What does that mean? Oh, I get it. Don't worry, with any luck they won't be white, and you can relax a little more while you curl up next to your guns ( which would have been useless in Boston yesterday). Get a life.

    April 16, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Sikandar

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

    How does he say that with a straight face when he continues to approve drone strikes proven to mostly kill innocent civilians? What a nasty man he's turned out to be.

    April 16, 2013 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  22. rad666

    Act of terror?

    Could it have been and act of civil disobedience?

    April 16, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Donkey Party

    This act is clearly the act of a right-winger. I have as much proof as any right-winger that claims that it was the left. See how ridiculous that looks? Can right-wingers put aside their blind hatred for the President long enough to show some solidarity with the country? Of course not, that would require a certain level of intelligence that all right-wingers are devoid of.

    April 16, 2013 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. Ted

    There goes my pressure cooker....

    April 16, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. sonny chapman

    I'm amazed at all of the unstable Conservative bloggers out there who are really INSECURE about their bravery/cowardice. It comes out in the Great Gun Debate too. You should really address these unfounded FEARS; it affects your mind's ability to absorb information rationally.

    April 16, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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