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. Sniffit

    "So take your caricatures of conservatives somewhere else."

    Aside from the fact that nothing you said is believeable because you deny listening to Hannity et al and then regurgitated their talking points, the fact remains: we don't need to atke our caricatures of conservatives anywhere. Conservatives bring their caricatures of themselves everywhere. It's not a matter of living in some liberal bubble analogous to the conservative echo chamber, because your fellow conservatives put it all on display...tapdancing in their clow shoes...every day, all day. We didn't invent the caricatures...we just noticed them.

    April 16, 2013 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  2. Max

    so this is terror when its foreign middle eastern, Afghanistan type but its a crime when the Colorado theater and the Newtown massacre takes place all are aimed at the innocent? I just don't get it. I think it would be appropriate if Jihadi terror was added to the term, it underscores the subliminal message associated with using the term terror by itself.

    April 16, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. binag

    To the liberals the truth hurts so much. obama it's about time you call what happened in Fort Hood an act of terrorism.

    April 16, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. liberal disease

    Obama wants to know who did this and Why? why so we can correct what we are doing wrong? did we offend someone? did that little boy do something wrong to deserve to die watching a road race..? the left is so screwed up!

    April 16, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  5. rohug

    The "Investigation" will go on for month's then they will decide it was a terrible accident. The Fumbling Bureau of Idiots couldn't find their own rearends without help. Neapolitan has been lost since she was handed the job so Homeland security wont do anything without Obama's say so.

    April 16, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  6. freedom

    Take notes while you're in Boston, Mr. President. This is how you confront, and investigate a terrorist act.

    April 16, 2013 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  7. Max

    "We will get to the bottom of this?" ARE YOU JOKING? We cannot even get to the bottom of the banking crimes of 08 and those crimes are outlined clearly on 60 Mins, which is one of the highest rated shows on national TV. How are you going to hold someone accountable for a crime if you do not hold all the criminals accountable equally? So if the bankers, tell the police, whom they own via the politicians to go out and shoot anyone who runs on a bank...what then? Bombs and guns and so much fluff as the real criminals just rob you blind. Pay attention to reality, spend the time learning the facts VS listening to someone tell you their version of the facts. Those people have sponsors who will drop them if they don't not say the correct things. Politicians need to win elections. Police need taxes for their pensions. They will never tell you the truth but in today's world there is an unlimited amount of information but it is not going to simply jump into your head, you still have to do the work ...Knowledge is simply a matter of effort and terrorism is a lie.

    April 16, 2013 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  8. Max

    The people that died in Boston were no more guilty of a crime than the family of Palestinians who were killed on a beach in Gaza. People die and you will not get the truth from the mass media because they are paid to tell you the party line. Knowledge is effort. The info is there but it will not just jump into your head and waiting or listening to someone's who is paid to tell you one version of the facts is a joke. Do the homework or you will be easy to control.

    April 16, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  9. just askin

    so one question: has the obama administration tried and convicted anybody yet in all of the terror attacks on this country???? answer: no.

    April 16, 2013 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. doug

    I feel so much better knowing Obama had decided this was a terror attack. Where would we be without him?

    April 16, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  11. Joe Blow

    He didn't call it terror. He called it terror. He can call it jello .... what the heck does it matter? The right wing nut balls in this country need to get a grip.

    April 16, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  12. Robertson

    Everyone is forgetting about one important thing. Those who sent them to do this may have gone underground. And now, they are using someone to take the blame for it (SCAPEGOAT).

    April 16, 2013 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  13. KneeJerkLibtards

    Whoever is responsible for the attack in Boston, It shows that the F.B.I., C.I.A. and the D.H.S. (under Obozo) have failed the American people AGAIN.

    But don't worry, the Knee Jerk Lib Tards will call for more funding, and they'll save the day NEXT TIME.

    More government, more funding and confiscation of your guns, that will make you safe.


    April 16, 2013 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  14. RC

    Too bad he can't be as specific about Benghazi.
    When is he going to admit that was an act of terror not because of a movie clip that no one watched?

    April 16, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  15. Natch

    CNN, you missed a word, in your headline for this story. You wrote, "Obama calls it terror". You should have added the word FINALLY in there, somewhere!
    Just like Benghazi, he was too PC to call it what it was, even though it was evident to everyone else.

    April 16, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  16. No Name

    Critical times are upon us! They will be hard to deal with because mean people, full of hate are committing acts of violence with computers, guns, bombs, drones, their hands and their mouths. Please take time to read what you have posted and decide if you are any better than anyone else committing acts of violence.

    April 16, 2013 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  17. PhillyGuy

    You know what, this is a much a do about nothing but conservative semantics. Please tell me what different does it make what this tragic and horrific event was called? Does it make it MORE valid now that it's called terror verses not? Does it bring any of the dead back to life because now it's officially labelled an ac of "terror". The GOP just HATE the fact that they no longer are the most trusted political group when it comes to fighting terrorism. The american people trust Pres Obama more than they do the republicans when it comes to keeping america informed and safer.

    And whether or not a couple of bombs exploding and killing innocent life are labelled by somenoe as a an act of terror or not, does not make what happened any the more comforting or better for the families that have lost loved ones, or those that have had serious disfigurement to their body.

    Who cares what you call it, except for some people to make a political statement out of nothing but a word. That word won't bring those people's lives back. And you declaring this incident is not going to "magically" keep the next nutcase from doing the same thing over again here in the USA. A word labelling an event is just for your own personal satisfaction.

    April 16, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. sam

    No doubt this is jehadi terrorist act

    April 16, 2013 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  19. johnny morris

    president barack obama is not worried about this bombing he is just ready to go on vacation AGAIN so what is he worried about NOTHING

    April 16, 2013 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  20. Mahhn

    "Any time bombs are used to target civilians, it is an act of terrorism," Obama said.
    - What about bombing civilians in other countries? -

    April 16, 2013 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  21. SLS

    Next step for Obama.....attack Switzerland and then hang a "Mission Accomplished Banner" on a big boat........

    April 16, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  22. Don Fairbanks

    Did I really just hear Erin Burnett report on CNN "the most deadly attack on american soil since 9/11?" regarding the bombing?... I am thinking she might have missed Sandy Hook.

    April 16, 2013 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  23. Paul Brinkster

    It is so clear that this President is not a leader. The president and his followers embarass America

    April 16, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  24. SLS

    The timing of the use of the word "terror" is very critical to this situation. #Sarcasm

    April 16, 2013 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. joe

    Maybe instead of standing in front of cameras with school children, we will see him with injured runners asking for grocery stores and Hardware store to be outlawed.

    April 16, 2013 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
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