April 16th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
9 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. George

    Just an alternative possibility .........April 15, 1936 Arab revolt begins

    April 16, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. toydrum

    I know it is popular to immediately say this is an act of terrorism, but can we do that without knowing why it was done? I thought the government had decided it had to be for purposes of political, religious, racial, etc intimidation for it to be "officially" called terrorism. Otherwise there wouldn't be a difference between terrorism and large scale bullying.

    If this was an organized group of terrorists, they seem inefficient, since I would have expected someone to (credibly) take credit and state their reasons, or worse, strike again while people are scared. It almost seems more frightening that it might be an individual or group just doing this as a thrill killing because I think they would be harder to catch.

    April 16, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  3. yomol

    Why does Obama have to use the word terrorism? What do people believe is implied if he doesn't? Two bombs went off at an international event. Of course it's terrorism, though in the immediate aftermath we didn't know for sure if it was an attack or infrastructure.

    April 16, 2013 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Steve

    Has it been ruled out that it was North Korea's one nuclear bomb?

    April 16, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  5. Adam

    It's disgusting. Who would do such a thing?

    April 16, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  6. Brandon

    Who cares if the president said or didnt say it was 'terrorism'. Obviously bombs blew up, put terror into people, therefore it is terrorism. This does not mean it was a foreign terrorist group, but by definition thats what it was, a terror attack. Really people, the president doesnt have to come out and say thats what it was to make it so...

    April 16, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  7. sonny chapman

    Would all of you Obama Hater have preferred if he had said,"Bring It On, Dead or Alive, I Want Justice, Smoke 'em Outta Their Caves" and then attacked Sweden ?

    April 16, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  8. Greenspam

    Terrorists attacked Americans, Republicans attacked Liberal Americans.

    April 16, 2013 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  9. jane

    It's is shameful and STUPID to make the death of this victims about the wording in which Obama uses....PLAN STUPID

    April 16, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  10. toy dumb

    At this point it doesn't matter the specific 'why'. We know the immediate intent was to kill civilians and cause terror.

    What agenda they think they're furthering is a moot point – they are terrorists and this is an act of terrorism.

    April 16, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  11. franklovesfl

    "You don't need to identify the terrorists. It was a spontaneous demonstration. Move along, move along..."

    April 16, 2013 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. dt

    So when Obama catches the people responsible for this one, will Republicans applaud?

    April 16, 2013 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  13. Jim

    He believes it's white guys opposed to taxes – of course THEY are terrorists in is mind.

    April 16, 2013 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |

    Obama may want to rethink his goals... taking guns away from LEGAL GUN OWNERS maybe can wait now. How about a focus on terrorism?? I felt safer with Bush running things!

    April 16, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  15. Patriot

    Has anyone else put together the fact that these bombings took place on Patriot Day/Tax day, and in the American city that is the Birthplace of Liberty? 240 years ago the Sons of Liberty tossed tea into the Boston Harbor to protest "no taxation without representation". Sounds like a similar statement was made yesterday...

    April 16, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  16. SMARTY14

    Haters will be haters. Palin/Bachman/Coulter will be witches for ever. Some things will never change. Bush stayed afloat and thrived by frightening Americans with the T-word at every turn. We must never go back there again!!

    April 16, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. D45

    Is Obama going to track down those responsible for this like those responsible to Benghazi...?????

    April 16, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "And yet here we are, feeding the beast. Says a lot about us, huh?"

    Spare me your "gotcha" attempts. I'm actually suprised they're letting me post these things, but as long as they are, I'll be doing my level best to shame them mercilessly. Hopefully some people agree with me about these things and are maybe feeling some of the same disgust I feel for the way the MSM is behaving. If they don't, so be it. And sure, perhaps it's somewhat futile to try to shame the shameless...lord knows we try day after day after day with the GOP/Teatrolls...but there's no reason to stop trying.

    April 16, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  19. KJ

    Finally! This is no time for PC talk...a bombing of innocent people is an act of terrorism...domestic or foreign

    April 16, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    [ And, the media wouldn't have it any other way ]
    Sad but true my friend, sad but true.
    It pains me but I have to agree with Fair is Fair on this one: we're playing right into their greedy little hands by merely posting.....unless we're doing a public service by educating a flaccidly complacent and gullible public.

    April 16, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |

    I feel bad for the fairy tale liberals who thought terrorism went away LOL... time to wake up and stop blaming everything on racists and assault rifles???

    April 16, 2013 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  22. CraigRB

    It was wise for the President to wait a while before labeling it "terrorism." Of course there are critics who are upset that he didn't say it immediately but, you know they would be the first to criticize if he did say it immediately; they don't like anything he does or says and we just have to accept that. I was sort of that way about George Bush.

    April 16, 2013 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  23. Jack

    At least our president wasn't reading a book, ignoring and smirking while this happened unlike OTHER presidents. Unlike other leaders, this leader will take charge and go after the real perpetrators of this heinous crime and not invent unsubstantiated claims (wmd's) to invade other countries for their natural resources. I am proud of our president.

    April 16, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  24. nothing new here

    Yes, I would agree that this is an act of 'terrorism'....
    But I am not here to mince words, or complain about somebody else's words.
    The point is – there are people dead (3) and many, many more wounded. Justice needs to be servied, and the victims and their families supported during this difficult time.
    Let us not forget this – we are Americans, and we should be work to make sure that these heinous acts are not repeated.
    Thank you.

    April 16, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    "Chris Matthews couldn't wait to say he thinks it was a right winger"

    And the MSM couldnt' wait to say it was a Saudi. The whole point is that none of them COULD WAIT. They just foamed at the mouth and vomitted whatever crap they could come up with just in case it proved correct later and despite the fact that it was more than likely to prove incorrect later.

    April 16, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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