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. surviver

    dont use your peoples and the nation whom trust in you to try bulid the dream jwish which will not be ocare

    April 16, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  2. Alex

    @ 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!" – No, the right is screwed up if it doesn't understand the stated intent to find out new ways to avoid this sort of thing happening again. Just as last I looked the US (under both Republican and Democratic leadership) has as far as we know been successful in avoiding any more airplanes flying into buildings. Don't turn this into a right vs left thing. Someone – we don't know who – did murder and mayhem. Their politics is something we have no idea of yet – so far (as of 5 PM MST anyway) no one's claimed responsibility so as far as the facts we have this could just as easily be the work of another McVeigh as it could be the work of a Bin Laden clone.

    April 16, 2013 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  3. wade

    How can this be. The liberals have been telling all of us that Obama won the war on terror and we no longer even called any one terrorist. Liberals = Brain Dead!

    April 16, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  4. rosethornne

    Yeah... about that "axis of evil" thing – from what I understand, President Carter was actually negotiating a peace treaty with North Korea when the Idjit Shrubbery weaseled into office. Shrub tossed out the treaty, called NK part of the axis of evil, and set off the paranoid dictator once again. Words do have consequences and authority figures need to think twice before speaking.

    April 16, 2013 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. Simon

    Great headline: "Obama calls it terror". What else can it be CNN? Seems like the word terror makes you giddy like a schoolgirl.

    April 16, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  6. Nicholas Smith

    Somebody said it was a government diversion to keep us from seeing what they're doing to our gun ownership.

    April 16, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  7. AZ Girl

    I just want know WHY anyone who isn't into the whole hardline "Teaparty" philosophy considered a "Libbie Dem"? Geez, really? Grow up.

    My 2 cents worth says this will be another "McVeigh" type occurrence. But I will wait and see before I start wanting to report all tall skinny redneck looking guys to my local cop shop.

    Also a lot of reasons for using or NOT using the "T word" is both psychological AND legal. If you people would put your snarkiness away and THINK you might see that.

    April 16, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  8. PevanB

    it's about frigg'n time

    April 16, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  9. Tony T

    Pretty said it's news when the President of the United States call an act of terrorism "terrorism". Did Obama ever get around to calling the Beghazi attack an act of terrorism,? And by the way were those responsible for that massacre ever brought to justice? And were are the survivors not even to the press or even Congress? Why?

    April 16, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. sparks2000

    so sad that there are evil people in the world who do these things.....evil,pure and simple

    April 16, 2013 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  11. Chris

    This president is a joke of a leader.

    April 16, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  12. Snarky

    Interesting how liberals can now claim others attack us because of our peace and civil way of life, but on 9/11 it was because it was our fault because of our way of life and we deserved it. Ironic that the Dems have a new movie out romanticisizing Obama friend Bill Ayres and his 1960s terror bombing group who wish the would have done more.

    More terrorism under Obama's watch – hope and change.

    April 16, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  13. obama

    It's Super Mega terrible terrorrs

    April 16, 2013 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  14. Bill Richardson

    Good ole obama. You can always count on him to say the right thing...AFTER the media pressures him to.

    April 16, 2013 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  15. ChiHD

    @People harping about about Benghazi

    Where was all the outrage over the amount of time it took to hunt down Bin Laden? Not giving Obama a pass here but lets be consistent here. 9/11 was a bigger incident by far too and Bush even stated in public that Osama wasnt a primary concern. Where was the outrage over that?

    @People thinking there's no relation between our foreign activities and foreign terror attacks launched against us

    As another poster noted before me, our direct/indirect military involvement in foreign countries have caused the deaths of millions of innocents in those countries over the past 20+ years. What did the little boy have to do any of this? Absolutely nothing. Just like the innocent citizens of those other countries that die as a result of wars and conflicts we start. Again, I am giving whoever did this a pass? No, I am not. I am just trying to be consistent and point out the obvious. We are responsible for the death of innocents in foreign countries as a nation due to our national policy. This is why foreign forces, which are weaker than us militarily, attack us in this way whenever possible. They can't possibly win a head-on fight so they can only hit us from where we can't see them.

    April 16, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  16. Adrian

    There's a difference between "terrorism" and "terror." One is a tactic used by terrorists, the other is the result they desire. Unfortunately, the president slipped once and said "terror" when he meant "terrorism". What I don't understand is why CNN, which has proofreaders and editors, keeps using the word "terror" in place of "terrorism". It's an important distinction, and I'd expect a reputable news source to choose its words carefully, at least most of the time. Why do the editors choose to quote the president's slip of the tongue instead of one of his statements that is closer to the heart of the message?

    April 16, 2013 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  17. brownie

    what happen to HOMELAND SECURITY they used to EFFECTIVE.... they used to stop a threat here and abroad

    April 16, 2013 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  18. GlueckAuf

    "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, adding "Right after we finish up that Benghazi video protest thing."

    April 16, 2013 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  19. Skorpio

    The FBI should interrogate ALL ISLAMIC CLERICS around that area, perhaps one might have the answer. In ANY Muslim TV channel, 9 out of 10 Islamic clerics justify, approve and promote these kinds of attacks as Allah's vengeance against America.

    April 16, 2013 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  20. UDidntBuildThat

    Jack-At least our president wasn't reading a book, ignoring and smirking while this happened unlike OTHER presidents....
    Where was Obama when Benhgazi was going down and our Amb. was getting killed? Sleeping! Oh and next day? Say a few words don't label it terrorism but a spontaneous demonstration and off to a fund raiser in Vegas!

    April 16, 2013 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. Louis

    Just like Libia. the Vacationer in Chief and his unqualified team of morons refuse to act in a timley fashion, but Obama will be at the Services to take all the publicity he can and politisize anything and everything he can. Next week, total ban on pressure cookers, nails and black nylon bags.

    April 16, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  22. Johnny Malachi

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

    April 16, 2013 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  23. jeff

    "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.

    Will that be now or after the Benghazi and the Fast & Furious Ops, both that went south horribly. Which one has priority and how much of an apology will the bomber(s) get?

    April 16, 2013 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  24. 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.

    April 16, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  25. Jack29

    Thank god he called it terror! Now the widdle-baby republicans can be happy.

    April 16, 2013 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
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