Friday, May 7, 2010

So who are Joe Lieberman targeting with his "Terrorist Expatriation Act" ?


I had my suspicion when i first read the full text of Sen. Joe Lieberman's "Terrorist Expatriation Act". This bill was to "add joining a foreign terrorist organization or engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States or its allies to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality." Now who are those allies, or should i say, who is that ally if Americans are "providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization" and/or "engaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against" that will result in them losing their citizenship? Ignore for now the fact that this bill is completely unconstitutional, who is Joe Lieberman trying to "protect"?

My suspicion is confirmed by this article on the Washington Post which stated that this bill "would also allow citizenship to be stripped from Americans who support groups that target U.S. allies, such as Israel or India." Again, ignore the unconstitutionality of this bill, as even Rep. John Boehner knows this bill "would be pretty difficult under the U.S. Constitution", if Joe Lieberman is truly trying to protect Americans, why is there a need to add our "allies" in it? Does it make any sense to strip the citizenship of Americans who support organizations that are only involved in an asymmetrical war with Israel and not us?


Glenn Greenwald discussed the irony of Joe Lieberman sponsoring a citizenship-stripping bill which has its origin in a 1940 bill to strip citizenship off Americans who demonstrated their loyalty to a foreign power.

One ironic aspect of Lieberman's sponsorship of the citizenship-stripping bill for accused Terrorists is that the original 1940 law on which it is based was designed, as Frum put it, "to strip citizenship from Americans whoshowed themselves loyal to a foreign power."  Fortunately for Joe Lieberman (as well as for GOP Rep. Peter King), the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 held that it is unconstitutional for Congress to strip the citizenship of any American who did not voluntarily renounce citizenship, even if that citizen proved himself loyal to a foreign country (adding to the irony, that case,Afroyim v. Rusk, involved an American citizen who had voted in Israeli elections and, as a result, had his passport renewal denied by the State Department on the ground that he had lost his American citizenship under The Nationality Act of 1940).  As the Afroyim Court put it (emphasis added):
[The Fourteenth Amendment] provides its own constitutional rule in language calculated completely to control the status of citizenship: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States . . . are citizens of the United States . . . ."  There is no indication in these words of a fleeting citizenship, good at the moment it is acquired but subject to destruction by the Government at any time.  Rather the Amendment can most reasonably be read as defining a citizenship which a citizen keeps unless he voluntarily relinquishes it. Once acquired, this Fourteenth Amendment citizenship was not to be shifted, canceled, or diluted at the will of the Federal Government, the States, or any other governmental unit.
The Court, in 1980, made clear what a person must do in order to be found to have "voluntarily renounced" his citizenship.  All of this underscores another great irony of Lieberman's advocacy of this bill:   although I'd be unequivocally opposed to any citizenship-stripping, if anyone merits having that done to them, it's Joe Lieberman, who proves -- yet again -- that he has no interest or belief in core American principles.

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