“As the attempted terrorist attack on Times Square showed us again, our enemies today are even more willing than the Nazis or fascists were to kill innocent civilian Americans,” Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, told reporters. “Our enemies today are stateless actors who don’t wear uniforms and plot against Americans abroad and here in the United States.”I can't believe that anyone would think this is a good idea.
Lieberman said the legislation updates the 1940 Immigration and Nationality Act, which identifies seven categories of acts that can lead to a person losing citizenship if the acts are performed voluntarily. That list includes acts such as serving in the armed forces of a “foreign state” if such armed forces are engaged in hostilities against the United States; formally renouncing nationality whenever the United States is in a state of war; or committing treason against the United States.David Cole for The Washington Post wrote an interesting piece regarding the bill:
“The bill we’re introducing today would simply update the 1940 law to account for the enemy that we are fighting today,” he said.
But several lawmakers, including the top Republican in the House, questioned whether Lieberman’s proposal would be constitutional. House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters the bill’s chances “would be pretty difficult under the U.S. Constitution.”
Lieberman argued while introducing the bill that "those who join such groups [as al-Qaeda and the Taliban] join our enemy and should be deprived of the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship." But this legislation is not limited to those who "join" the enemy. It would apply to any provision of "material support" to any group we have designated as "terrorist." In a pending Supreme Court case, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, the government has taken the position that the "material support" ban -- already a part of our criminal law but not a basis for expatriation -- is so broad that it makes it a crime to file an amicus brief in the Supreme Court, to lobby Congress, to teach human rights or to write an op-ed piece, so long as it is done with or for a designated group. Should we be expatriating people for engaging in political speech simply because we don't approve of those with or for whom they are speaking?The law is too vague and can be applied to almost anything. What is even more troublesome is what happens once someone's citizenship comes under State Department scutiny - the person would be forced to court and the State would then have the burden of proof, but I'm sure they would also be detained, and since their citizenship will be in limbo, will they face
Also, as Cole points out, the bill could quite possibly be applied towards those who take a critical stance against the actions against a suspected enemy. In the wrong hands, this bill could be used to jail political opponents, members of the media, or even donors to various political or charitable organizations.
Like the law in Arizona, this bill is just a knee-jerk reaction to the recent attempted terrorist attack in New York City by Faisal Shahzad. I would expect a law like this from the right-wing, but I guess Lieberman is close enough. He might as well start caucusing with them.