April 16th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
10 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. John

    Hey, Obama and Bush haters: THEY ARE NOT THE ENEMY!

    But the terrorists who did this appreciate your support in spreading the confusion, fear, and most of all - hate.

    April 16, 2013 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  2. Namejulia

    Those Boston pictures resemble what's left after a drone strike....the world knows how little we think of people in other countries. I'm sad about it but not the least bit surprised

    April 16, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. WakeUpUSA

    Wow. what would we do without Obama and his Einstein TYPE announcements – We never would have THOUGHT of an act of terror till he told us! What a Muppet!

    April 16, 2013 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. jack

    Obama the incompetent does not know the difference between a tragic accident and a terrorist attack. His rhetoric of punishing them to the fullest extent of the law is nothing but hot air. Brothers do not kill brothers. Obama fits the criteria. By the weekend he will be playing golf to relieve the stress that accidents cause him. Shame, shame.

    April 16, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  5. Getoverit

    Obama sure isn't one to mince words! Here's a guy who tells it like it is! (sarcasm)

    April 16, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. jack

    Only a fool cannot tell the difference between a terrible accident and a terrorist attack. O'bama is qualified for that. I'm surprised he did not call it a gas line explosion. Needles to say, the perps are in a safe haven.

    April 16, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  7. Rod

    Liberal disease, the only disease apparently is running amuck in your brain. Why don't you try to conduct a reasonable conversation without pandering to the ridiculous.

    April 16, 2013 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  8. Jon Samuel

    Pretty pathetic when a headline is created just by Obama actually saying the word "terror". However he can't bring himself to say the word "terrorist'. Or how about islamic terrorist? The stench from the WH continues.

    April 16, 2013 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  9. JJ

    I don't need potus to tell me what terror is....pretty easy to recognize...of course he could always blame Bush....

    April 16, 2013 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  10. Namthomase

    Folks,let's focus. This is not a liberal or conservative thing. This is not just us. This is mothers burying their children all over the world because groups and governments think they have some legitimate right to kill innocents, either directly or as collateral damage, to advance their agendas. When and how does this stop?

    April 16, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  11. Gre

    Yeah, no. Terrorism suggests a political agenda. So if the person who did this just wanted to kill people, it wouldn't be classified as terrorism. Obama doesn't get to change the definition of words.

    April 16, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  12. Bazinga

    Sad in Boston . But there were over 30 people killed in Iraq yesterday, and many thousands over the last 10 years (over 100K)? Wheres our outrage over the disaster we've turned that country into?

    April 16, 2013 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  13. Frank

    If anything horrible and disastrous happen by the hands of someone, it is an act of terror. It doesn't have to be someone from a different country doing it, or someone from the middle east.

    What Adam Lanza did was an act of terror.. How can you not consider that to not be an act of terror. People think that to use the sentence "acts of terror" or the word "terrorist", it automatically has to be someone or a group from a different country who are our enemy. But to me, adam lanza is also a terrorist. Or the guy who shot people in a movie theater. How is that not a terrorist? But if it was a muslim, he would be called that. I just don't see how someone cannot qualify as a terrorist for doing the same actions as others that do.

    April 16, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  14. Vita

    Pray for boston! We r the UNITED states of america and will stay united!

    April 16, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  15. Patriot Forever

    This was done on April 15th, tax day. Guess who is opposed to taxes on the rich? The Republicans. They have bombed abortion clinics before. The Boston Bombing must have been done by the Tea Party!

    April 16, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  16. Anthony in California


    "Noone Uknow

    "So it's clear the authorities are absolutely clear. This is a terrorism investigation. It's a terrorism case," he said."
    The only thing unclear is whether it is domestic or foreign. That will be revealed as the evidence is gathered, just like any other criminal case that the FBI handles.
    Of course, I am certain that there will be some commenters here that won't understand that basic.
    No, first there will be liberal bashing.
    Then there will be retaliation conservative bashing.
    And in the end, regardless of whether the terrorists are domestic or foreign, they will have won.
    They will have divided Americans and pitted us against ourselves, and manipulated us into claiming that both liberals and conservatives lie and are just disgusting people and they aren't Americans.
    And that is exactly how they want it."

    April 16, 2013 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  17. Anonymous

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

    oabama could not see that yesterday...i guess he needed to check youtube first for video to blame

    April 16, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  18. Donkey Party

    Conservatism is a disease that must be eradicated. Look no further than the hateful, ignorant, illiterate commentors here to see where the eradication needs to start.

    April 17, 2013 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  19. Name willard

    I am belived that who have plot at untied state of amercian but predient obama need keep careful of his word
    I think people plot might keep hide in u.s

    April 17, 2013 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  20. Name

    Obama is a joke and is scared if his own party.

    April 17, 2013 03:37 am at 3:37 am |
  21. W. Kiernan

    Contrary to your report, Obama did not use the word "terror" in the more recent speech. He used the words "terrorist" and "terrorism." Despite the superficial similarity, those are different words with radically different meanings. English – do you speak it?

    April 17, 2013 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  22. NameRuss B

    And what video is he going to blame this on?

    April 17, 2013 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  23. Hogan's Goat

    It's pretty sad to see what's left of the once-proud GOP reduced to whining "Benghazi, Benghazi" over and over while the real world has moved on. You old dinos had your chance to scare us back when Reagan was fantasizing about "boat people" and it didn't work then either. Will you hurry up and age out and GO already?

    April 17, 2013 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  24. Anonymous



    Obama blah bah...Obama blah blah...Obama blah blah...

    Rightwing squawking parrots repeating the same BS, day after day.

    April 17, 2013 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. Anonymous

    @Johnny Malachi

    I'm so sick of Obama lately and I voted for the guy twice.

    @Johnny Malachi

    It's just killing the cable news networks not knowing who's responsible for the bombing. They want so bad to blame somebody and they don't know anything yet. I know CNN will be very disappointed if the bombers aren't tea party gun owners from Texas. I know for a fact Al Sharpton loves tea party gun owners from Texas because he's not a racist lol.


    By your own words, it's doubtful you ever voted for let alone supported an Obama presidency. It would be interesting to know how many of the 200+ posts on this thread are yours posted under numerous other names.

    April 17, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
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