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. Wake up People!

    Will labeling it a terrorist attack change the facts in this case? Will that bring back the dead little boy and the others? Then what difference does it make what ANY attack is called?? We were attacked. Labeling it to fit a scenario changes nothing. People just hate President Obama and they take any and every chance they get to say the most disrespectful things about him. They can use any excuse in the book, but most of us know the truth.

    I was NEVER a fan of George W. Bush, simply because of the way he got into office. But when 9/11 happened and he said we would get the culprits, I was right behind him. I supported him because he was our POTUS. I had his back until I found out there were no WMD's and we had been lied to.
    Too bad others don't believe in respecting the office of the POTUS.

    April 16, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Life is a roller coaster

    There won't be a punishment on this planet that will properly fit this cowardly, senseless act. When people are angry and have something to say, they need to man-up and express their feelings like a human being not a spineless jellyfish.

    April 16, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. tarura

    Amazing, Obama said "terror" and did not choke, LOL !

    April 16, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. ali

    here we go again everybody jumping on Obama...damn ppl he didnt do it so stop wasting ur time attacking our president

    April 16, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. Fire the GOP

    It's better not to rush to judgment. The President did the right thing to wait for him to get all the facts first.

    April 16, 2013 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. Jose Kuhn

    @AL Until there are enough facts, the adult thing to do is not to label something. Even though the odds are that it was terrorism Obama did the right thing.

    It could have been some mentally ill young adult person who simply wanted to take people out and could not get a gun. Once the trail of evidence suggests foreign terrorism then you come out and label the bombings.

    The problem is that Americans have the intellectual rigor of a turnip. It is reflected in who we elect to local, state wide and national offices.

    April 16, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  7. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    What's your point? So what was the Tucson attack? What was the Auroro attack? What was the Oak Creek attack? What was the Sandy Hook attack? They were all acts of terrorism just like the attack yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Following the 9/11 attacks on our nation, GWB didn't call the attacks an act of terrorism until two weeks later when he addressed the nation. He kepts referring to the 9/11 attacks as "these attacks! Please stop your hateful divisive garbage.

    April 16, 2013 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    No claim of responsibility yet. All that I'm asking is this a jihadists' M.O.?

    April 16, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  9. Seriously?

    People will always find a way to blame Obama for anything.

    April 16, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  10. Jerry

    This american wants to fry some terrorist butt, I mean beat hem with a stick because Obama is goning to take the guns away.

    April 16, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  11. AC

    This event was nothing more than an act of cowardice.

    Whoever did this WILL be caught. Anybody that knows something about who did this & doesn't come forward, they should see severe justice as well.

    April 16, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  12. Michael, Chapel Hill

    Amazing! There a word in our language now, "Terror."

    April 16, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  13. fuzzback

    Best as I can recall, Islamoterrorists have in the past been pretty quick to take credit for these things. So far they're mum.

    April 16, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  14. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    On a previous article where Tagg Romney called for the perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice (kudos to Tagg), some conservatives said GWB kept our nation safe after 9/11 while they argue that President Obama hasn't. But again, why didn't GWB keep us safe on 9/11? Furthermore, to my recollection many Americans were targeted and murdered overseas as a result of our invasion of Iraq. And following 9/11, to my knowledge thousands of Americans were murdered across our nation as a result of gun violence. I believe gun violence are also acts of terrorism. So what did GWB do about those domestic acts of terrorism? Furthermore, while we have to be more vigilent and be aware of our surroundings, criticizing President Obama for this tragedy is pointless because I doubt he'd be able to put a police office at every trash can in America.

    April 16, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  15. JohnRJohnson

    Really? We're going to start playing that word-game again? If the President doesn't say "terrorist", then he must be one of them, I guess. Why is this article even up? Put up the damn speech without adding some oblique criticism. His statements speaks for themselves. Analysis not required.

    April 16, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Indian

    I am not a supporter of Obama but people shoule their common sense. It is a terrorist act whether domestic right wing did it or its foreign nobody knows yet.

    April 16, 2013 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Lynda/Minnesota

    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.

    Well, if the media needs the President of the United States to term a bombing in Boston as an act of terror, chances are our media in America probably isn't focused on the facts as much as it is on the sensationalism of what amounts to no known "facts" to date.

    But, I agree with Sniffit. Media coverage of these events is an abomination that serves no useful purpose. Calling one another out for comments made (as Fair is Fair has done) serves no purpose either. Fair is Fair is going after Dutch with a vengeance today.

    I only ask: to what purpose does she hope to achieve?

    April 16, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    @Wake up People

    Totally agree that it is hate for our President. And what is astonishing is how conservatives light up the social media board when there is an article on the First Lady. They just can't wait to gang up on the First Lady and call her all sorts of hateful and derogatory names. Totally appalling!

    April 16, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  19. Fire the GOP

    It will be interesting to see if this is a domestic or foreign act of terror. The radical religious Taliban are usually quick to take credit for their attacks. Ususally it has been the domestic ones who are too cowardly to step forward and take credit.

    April 16, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. Frank

    Not "Sports Place Violence" this time?

    April 16, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  21. ugh

    There has been shameless, politicing over this – Barney Frank citing it as a clear reason to avoid budget cuts to the Federal Gov't, Everyone sitting on the edge of their seats listening for the "T" word.....

    April 16, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  22. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    That was funny! I guess some of us could do with a little laughter in wake of this tragedy.

    April 16, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |

    See people you need to understand the President was not going to say Terrorist until HE was positive. Because if he had said Terrorist first then we find that it wasn't, the right would have jumped all over him for that. This president likes to MAKE SURE of things. You know instead of flying in on a Aircraft carrier with all the press called first then strut with a pilots helmet, and a banner saying "Mission Accomplished" when it clearly wasn't. When we should be worried about the people hurt the right wing nutjobs want to worry about a word?? To bad we cannot live together as a nation of free people. oh by the way The President has not EVER, NEVER, NEVER said he wanted to take anyones guns away from them!!! So please try to come up with better lies..........ooh shoot we know you will.

    April 16, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  24. WeirdMN

    Terrorism. Gee, ya think?

    April 16, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  25. just sayin

    Best as I can recall, Islamoterrorists have in the past been pretty quick to take credit for these things. So far they're mum.

    maybe because the perpetrators have not been able to complete their getaway yet? not smart to tell law enforcement who to be looking for.

    April 16, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
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