Responding to the failed car-bomb that American citizen Faisal Shahzad admitted to placing in
Times Square, Senator Joe Lieberman has proposed a law that would allow
the U.S. to strip citizenship from any American who is determined to be "actively engaging in hostilities against the
United States or its allies
" or is "providing material support or resources
to a designated terrorist group. The bill is designed to circumvent the
legal protections afforded to all American citizens, which Lieberman
suggests would be an impediment to national security. We explored the legal and constitutional case against this law
But, were it to go into effect, how would it work?
- What Would
Constitute 'Support'? The Agence France-Presse's Olivier Knox says "lots of questions"
remain about the bill. He asks if "buying cocaine" would "trigger" the
removal of citizenship, as that could be seen as indirectly funding
terror groups such as FARC in Colombia. He also wonders if giving money
to the Irish Republican Army, an officially designated terror group that
operates in Ireland with donations from some Irish-Americans, would
"trigger" one's citizenship to be stripped.
- Prison for Banana
Buyers? Liberal blogger Marcy Wheeler recalls the United Fruit Company. "Would [Attorney
General Eric] Holder lose citizenship because he represented Chiquita,
which knowingly provided material support for terrorism?
For that matter, if we eat Chiquita bananas do we lose American
citizenship under Lieberman's bill? Chiquita is especially nice because it involves
rich white Republicans--and the Attorney General. And specific known
facts. Dole from Costa Rica probably safe. Just don't eat
any Chiquita bananas, because they won't be 'American' bananas
- No More
'Innocent Until Proven Guilty' Reason's Jacob Sullum notes, "For
Lieberman, then, there is no important difference between an enemy
soldier captured on the battlefield and an American arrested in the U.S.
on terrorism charges. ... Under Lieberman's proposal, any American
accused of links to terrorism would be presumed guilty, stripped of his
citizenship, and locked in a military prison." But he worries, "in a
future terrorism case, a defendant might not only claim to be innocent;
he might actually be innocent. That possibility is why we have
trials, replete with all those pesky due process requirements, to begin
- Innocent Men Locked Up? Radley Balko cites people like Steven Hatfill, who was wrongly accused of terrorism but
later exonerated. "So if we had been governed by the wisdom of one Joe
Lieberman over the last 15 years, Richard Jewell and Steven Hatfill—both
innocent and both U.S. citizens accused of terrorism-related crimes—may
well have been stripped of their citizenship, treated as enemy
combatants, and left to rot on some Navy ship off the coast of South
- Wouldn't Apply to Timothy McVeigh The American
Prospect's Adam Serwer marvels at
Lieberman's focus only on foreign terror organizations. "One thing is
clear, though; the designation 'foreign terrorist organization' wouldn't
apply to domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, which means that the
law would, in practice, only ever apply to American Muslims."
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