April 16th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
1 year 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. Wake up People!

    @Sam Wilson.

    Does the name Willard Mitt Romney mean nothing to you??? He attempted to use Benghazi and it backfired on him. You republicans are constantly trying to flip the script. Too funny.

    April 16, 2013 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. randy

    Hey Right-Wingers,
    Try this experiment. I mean it. Turn off Fox, Turn off your AM (hate) radio and put down whatever books you are reading by the people on those networks. Seriously. Try it for a year. I think you will find that you have been sucked into a bubble of deception engineered to keep these pundits rich.

    April 16, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Andrew Page

    "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.

    I'm sorry, that's not nearly strong enough. It makes it sound like when we do find out 'why' that we'll apologize for whatever we did to make them so mad.

    April 16, 2013 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Miguel

    This is terrorism and so was Fort Hood. Thank goodness we are not playing that game with this bombing.

    April 16, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Bill Thayer

    Of course it is an act of terror. With nails and ball bearings, it looks like a Middle East type of bomb, but we don't know for sure at this point. Terrorism is war not crime.

    April 16, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. eviltaxpayer

    But wait! The media messiah bragged about killing osama and his low information robots were promised the world loved us again-

    April 16, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. md11456

    Are you kidding.....they are talking about disarming Americans when this is the best they can do for security?

    April 16, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  8. TonyG

    Looks like bean-head finally figured out what the rest of the world knew 5 minutes after the explosions. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer...

    April 16, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  9. eviltaxpayer

    Its bushs fault.
    Nothing bad is obamas fault, just ask his low IQ voters.

    April 16, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  10. Dan

    "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"
    Seems to me we heard this after Benghazi and are no where near getting to the bottom of that.

    April 16, 2013 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  11. Christine

    Those apples look more delicious and no one else seem to care what Obama is is trying to say.

    April 16, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    -md11456

    Are you kidding.....they are talking about disarming Americans when this is the best they can do for security?
    ***************************
    How would a Glock have protected you from a bomb? Answer that, genius.

    April 16, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  13. Patrick

    Of course it's an act of terror. The whole point of terrorism is to spread fear. The point isn't to kill thousands and thousands of people. It was done in a way that it would be able to be seen by millions of Americans, which it was. I think if we find out it was a terrorist from a foreign country, hold that country accountable. They're getting their funding somewhere, after all. It's impossible to fight terrorism when they claim they don't fight for a country. That's BS. Go after these countries and governments they come from. If it was domestic terrorism. Well, I have no answer for that except swift justice.

    April 16, 2013 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. The Real Tom Paine

    I guess the haters and the no-IQ voters the Right has been steadily priming over the last 20 years have been handed another tragedy to exploit. When can we say " Mission Accomplished"? When the US has been transformed into Somalia?

    April 16, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "G.W.Bush did what had to be done in short order."

    Two words: Tora Bora.

    April 16, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. The Real Tom Paine

    -Bill Thayer

    Of course it is an act of terror. With nails and ball bearings, it looks like a Middle East type of bomb, but we don't know for sure at this point. Terrorism is war not crime.
    *********************
    Think Olypmic Park, 1996. Domestic loony on the loose.

    April 16, 2013 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  17. major

    This is the "new normal" that we all expected after 9/11. It was late arriving on our shores, but it's here now. Life on alert is just going to be the typical thing from now on.

    April 16, 2013 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    It's about time?

    April 16, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  19. Elliott Carlin

    ONE THING we know will never see the light of day, if true: foreigners came through the southern border.

    April 16, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  20. vinster76

    what amazes me so much is how little you liberals know about us conservatives....Yeah sure, we have our regular eggheads, just as you do, but I know too many people who are of sound mind and body, who are conservative. They didn't wake up one day, robot-like, and suddenly announce their conservatism, it has been with them for a long time. I was in college about 30 years ago, and was, in many ways, more liberal than I am today. However, there is an old saying that describes me, and millions more like me and it goes something like this: "If you are not a liberal in your 20's, you have no heart, – if you're not a conservative in your 40's, you have no brain".......I think that sums it up quite nicely for me and many more......I don't live in a double-wide, go hunting, belong to the NRA, or beat my wife on Saturday night prior to watching Larry the Cable Guy. I hardly ever hear Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck, or many of the others you malign nearly every day. I base my opinion and vote on my OWN thought process, and as you, are a product of my upbringing. An interesting thing about me though, is my parents are up in years, and they both vote democratic....When I asked them why, there answer had much to do with how the democratic machine, and Obama, maligned the character of Romney, a good and decent man. So, it appears they were hoodwinked by the dems, as much or more as you accuse the conservatives of being hoodwinked by the likes of Limbaugh, et al. I am educated, articulate, with more than a little common sense. I have voted conservative, (notice I did not necessarily say Republican), and will vote that way till I die......So take your caricatures of conservatives somewhere else.

    April 16, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  21. freedom

    Our country is getting less safe by the day with this White House. Obama's czars all have connections and backgrounds to groups who are not patriotic, and he can't even call a bomb going off and killing and injuring Americans on our homeland – terror. God help us.

    April 16, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "@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."
    ===

    Don't be so quick to dismiss it. McConnell is already pushing that line of argument with his official public statement in response to this attack. His entire response was about 9/11 as if to acknowledge that this happened in Boston yesterday would weaken his radicalized right wing talking points. Make no mistake: by the end of the week (probably sooner), Issa and the most rabid of the Teatrolls will be screaming for investigations, talking non-stop about Benghazi all over again and making accusations that "apologies and making nice have collapsed our national security preparedness like never before" and other similar hyperbolic, substanceless and unsuportable nonsense.

    April 16, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  23. cedar rapids

    'eviltaxpayer
    But wait! The media messiah bragged about killing osama and his low information robots were promised the world loved us again-'

    awww, arent you cute.

    April 16, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. freedom

    This is the same man who had that stupid beer summit and called the Boston police racist. The Bostonian police have more guts, sense, stamina, and love for their homeland than this White House will ever know. Obama could sure learn some things watching these men/women in action.

    April 16, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  25. mark

    Words have consequences. Sometimes, words such as terrorism can have specific legal definitions that the average Joe the Plumber (or Sam the guy who wasn't really a plumber after all) don't understand. Our president usually chooses his words carefully to avoid such mistakes that could screw up a prosecution. Unlike the last bunch in idiots who made such bold statements as "With us or against us", "bring em on", "they're part of old Europe", "axis if evil" and so on and so on and so on. Yeah, it is refreshing to have someone in charge who thinks about what to say first before just letting the defecation of the mouth fly at will.

    April 16, 2013 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
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