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. California Gary

    @sonny........I think you hit the nail right on the head.......that's apparently exactly what some would like to see the POTUS do. After all.....it worked so well for GWB.

    April 16, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. BurkeMtn

    The MSM! It's a conspiracy! All done on Patriot's Day in an attempt to divert attention from gun rights and immigrants. Now where did I put my tin foil hat?!

    April 16, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. D45

    Ref Obama labeling this incident Terrorism! Any act such as this is terrorism, regardless of who did it. This act, just like Benghazi, just like the killing of the soldiers at Ft. Hood, are acts of terrorism. Those who committed this act are terrorist plan and simple...If anyone posting here disagrees, fine, but tell that to those who lost loved ones or those that were seriously injured, that this was not an act of terrorism...then for those who still think it isn't then what would you call it if someone you loved or knew was a victim of such an act?

    April 16, 2013 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. Panama J. Craig

    This is truly a sad thing to have of happened, but this type of event, and many more like it, are expected to come. We attack people in the Middle East, and kill innocent civilians with Drone Warfare. We hold people against their will, citizens of the world, both foreign and domestic to our own country, without due process. What should we expect to happen when the individuals, and their families, that are hurt by these actions, are simply told that there is nothing that can be done.

    In the last 8 years, Obama has allowed the orders to go through to kill more innocent civilians than the amount of innocent lives have been killed in mass murders, over the last 20 years. Granted, he likely did not have the malevolent nature that the murderers behind these shootings had, but innocent lives were still taken, none the less.

    Instead of manipulating the public's opinion by using a young child, who has little to no idea, what he is doing. Let us stand up against those that have truly brought this upon us. Our own government... It's called Blowback... And is expected to happen in the long run, when you harm innocence.

    April 16, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. JP

    Let's compare three similar events that has happened today. Not denying any of these things are terrible, or that we should take note. We should just do a bit of thinking before we get emotional.

    Boston marathon explosion: two dead, at least another 77 injured. All hell breaks loose.
    Series of early morning explosions across cities in Iraq: 50 dead and nearly 300 wounded. Only a portion of peopl...e care or even know about it.
    US bombs Afghan wedding: at least 30 killed and a total of at least 120 killed or wounded. Not much attention given here, eh?

    Apparently two US lives are more important than 50 Iraqi and/or 30 Afghani lives. Then even though there is nothing to suggest middle eastern terrorist groups have been involved, the mass media uses this as a tool to help pit Americans against the Middle East and create further nationalism through hatred.

    All crimes against humans are crimes against humanity as a whole.
    We should not be drawing distinctions between the importance of one life and another because of their colour of their skin or the country they live in. If you want to support the victims, go for it. They'll get plenty of help since the US media can use them for their own gain, so I'll be spending my time trying to bring some things to light. Don't PRAY for good things to happen, make them happen.

    April 16, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  6. Hogan's Goat

    Considering the current turmoil, there are about equal chances of this being done by anti-gun control people, pro-gun control people, home-grown terrorists, jihadis, or Rand Paul supporters. So until we get some credible info, how about not wasting time blaming our favorite villains? I got five bucks says it's anti-gun nuts, but it's five bucks I'd be pleased to lose. I hope it's outsiders and not Americans.

    April 16, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  7. Bradley Meyers

    "Any time bombs are used to target civilians, it is an act of terrorism," Obama said, adding that it remained unclear who perpetrated the attack."

    What? Bullets don't count?


    April 16, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  8. algorelies


    The exulted one finally got to his T's!!! Folks this is all a dog and pony show designed to scare the wits of most ignoramuses and rattle the saber to get the fat, overweight, under educated masses to go behind Obey on, yet, another war!!!

    April 16, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  9. Carrie

    I love it on here the comments don't blame Obama but everyone wanted to blame Bush....I personally do not blame Obama for this and I did not blame Bush either I am a grown up. But I do not want anyone playing the racist card when we look at people here in our country (if they are from a country that hates us), if we would take them in for questioning deal with it I would be looking at everyone from a country that hate us!

    April 16, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    And it continues:

    McConnell is now insulting all of Boston's law enforcement and national law enforcement and intelligence by trying to make a case that Obama has caused us to return to the "complacency" that existed prior to 9/11.

    If you think the GOP/Teatrolls aren't going to "go there", take note...they already have.

    April 16, 2013 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  11. Fish

    No telling who or why this happened yet one fact remains, We Americans must stop the political rancor which feeds the weak-minded and or terrorist mindset and live as one nation United under God!!!

    April 16, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. truth hurts but reality bites

    it is becoming very clear that obama has been brought back to the reality, kicking and screaming, that terrorism does exist. he and his adminstration has done everything they could to change the language, even to the point of lunacy, calling the ft. hood shooting work place violence. they have done everything they could to deny the existence of terrorism and convince people we really didn't have to attack it and root it out.

    April 16, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. Hogan's Goat

    ".If anyone posting here disagrees, fine, but tell that to" bla bla bla. "Terrorism" is a particular set of violent acts against non-combatants in order to shake their confidence in their government and begin to directly appease the terrorists. Since there are no demands and no jeering so far, and the bombs were meant to destroy legs and feet at a marathon, this may actually be some anti-runner craziness aimed at African runners instead of the USA. If the intent was anything besides political, it's not terrorism but atrocity. Terrorist acts are meant to elicit statements like this: "Let us stand up against those that have truly brought this upon us. Our own government... It's called Blowback..." or in other words, "I'm afraid so I'm ready to surrender. Don't scare me any more please. Take anything you want."

    April 16, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  14. Expat American

    Such a cowardly act. I hope the perpetrators are brought to justice; be them foreign of possibly domestic (?)

    April 16, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  15. Books & Art - Spirit & Soul - Lesley Fletcher

    The Definition of Terrorism does not define anything or anyone in particular but encompasses an act of violence – according to the FBI's site here is the Definition:

    There is no single, universally accepted, definition of terrorism. Terrorism is defined in the Code of Federal Regulations as “the unlawful use of force and violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” (28 C.F.R. Section 0.85).
    The FBI further describes terrorism as either domestic or international, depending on the origin, base, and objectives of the terrorist organization.

    April 16, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  16. RJS

    The level of idiocy in this discussion thread is astounding. The Blame-O-Bamas are out in force, using this as another club to beat us senseless.

    The terrorists must be laughing their butts off, watching our knees jerking around, while we destroy freedom in the name of safety and security.

    April 16, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Al

    This is not a political game. Our president has to step up with courage and handle this. The truth will be whether he does. If Bengazi is an example of his lack of couarge then justice will not be served.

    April 16, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  18. DDOGG

    I agree that it does not matter whether this was terriorist or not, this was an attack where people got severly injured and/or died. Don't get me wrong because I love my freedom, however, we in America get too complacent and forget how dangerous our world can be until something like this happens, forgetting that some countries experience attacks like this constantly. My heart goes out to Boston, but also to everyone around the world who is going through a time of pain and suffering. I am not a fan of the world ending, but maybe it is time to give another species a shot on earth.

    April 16, 2013 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  19. War is not the answer

    When we invade other countries, people die, millions and millions of them. When people die, it generates hatreds. What is the effect of three people died in this attack? What is the effect of millions people died in wars that we began? In Iraq war, over 4000 US soldiers died, over 1 million Iraq civilian died. What will be the effect of these deaths to our future safety? The people died have offspring and relatives. War is not the answer!

    April 16, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  20. simonriece

    I still believe that it was a chlorine based explosive and informed the FBI after seeing the blast. I spent a great deal of time in Northern France and witnessed the detonation of several devices that had been in the ground since WW1, where a French military unit takes care of this stuff. The timing however reminds me of IRA bombings that happened in the late 70s and early 80s and were designed to cause carnage, not kill. France also had bombing raids in the early 90s in the metro station which followed the IRA methodology. Whoever did this has done this before or was trained by someone who has done it before. Boston College released IRA interview tapes in 2012 that were to be sealed until the members were dead, which included some tapes regarding Sinn Fein and Jerry Adams and implications in multiple murders. The IRA was also implicated in the French metro bombings, as a training unit, although never proved. Why Boston? Why a marathon? The neighborhood is in urban renewal and has a large gay and minority population. The IRA and the RIRA were both implicated in bombings targeting these types of communities and several were recently released from British prisons. Many IRA and RIRA members are known mercenaries, and extremely violent.

    April 16, 2013 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  21. DustyOnes

    How is Obama doing catching the murdering terrorist in Benghazi?

    April 16, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  22. yogi

    President Obama reacted with calm and dignity, waiting with conclusions as to who might and could have done it. At this point it is completely irrelevant, and until then it is better to let the investigation run it's course. All these attacks have only one purpose and that is to terrorize, regardless whether they are domestic or foreign in origin. In all these responses the President has acted with reason and dignity and would never tell the nation: "We smoke 'm out and shoot them up". The difference between the reaction of a cowboy and a statesman.

    April 16, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  23. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer


    You forgot to mention the 1 million Iraqi civilians who have died as a result of our bombs and civil war that ensue thereafter. Not much coverage is given to the ongoing carnage that may last for 100 years as Sen. McCain once said.

    April 16, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  24. Rich54


    Liberals like Hoyer and Franks are blaming this on the sequester and you say conesratives are attacking liberals?

    April 16, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  25. Tuza Baap

    I think our media and experts are getting into too much of disection of the speech by POTUS. Whether Obama called this act as terrorism or violence, it doesn't matter. As long as we bring the perpetrators who committed this crime into the justice is all that matters. It is wrong to attach "Terrorrism" when bombs are used to committ crime and the term "violence" when homegrown nuts committ crimes in the case of Columbine, Aurora, and Netown massacre. Both the acts are terrorism. It would be shameful if some crazy make an argument for Bombs, such as "Guns don't kill people, its the people". All indication is that this cowardly act is homegrown such as OK city bombings.

    April 16, 2013 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
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