5 Problems With Lieberman's Citizenship-Stripping Bill
By Jared Keller on May 05, 2010 1:02pm
On Wednesday, journalists and politicians debated the legal options for dealing with the Times Square suspect, naturalized U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad. Few options have attracted as much ire as that of Joe Lieberman, who suggested on Fox & Friends that "American citizens who choose to become affiliated with foreign terrorists" should have their citizenship removed. Jordan Fabian of The Hill reports that the Connecticut Independent is planning to introduce a bill that would amend a current law that "bars American citizens from fighting for foreign armies at the price of losing their citizenship." If the legislation is made law, it would allow people like Shahzad to be stripped of their constitutional protections and tried before military tribunals. Lieberman's proposed bill has attracted a hefty dose of criticism tinged with exasperation from commentators.
* The Process Is Too Vague Alex Pareene of Salon needles Lieberman for the ambiguous legal mechanics of his bill. "But what constitutes 'ties'? How is it conclusively proven that this person was working with a foreign-based organization? What if they're wrongfully accused? What's the standard of proof? Lieberman's bill would create a new 'authority' to determine all those things." After all, scoffs Pareene, its not like there aren't courts to handle these questions. "If only we had some sort of existing method by which we determined whether or not Americans were guilty of crimes!"
* What Comes First, the Stripping or the Trial? Like Pareene, Steve Benen is puzzled by the broad reach of Liberman's proposed bill. "If an American citizen is accused of terrorist associations, he/she would lose citizenship status before a conviction? In Lieberman's vision, the defendant is punished and then gets due process? What if authorities make a mistake and accuse someone who's innocent? Would officials eventually give citizenship back with an 'Oops, Our Bad' card? Senator, Yale Law School called. It wants your diploma back."
* The Punishment Should Fit the Crime, writes Megan McArdle, making a novel comparison of Shahzad to American serial killers. "Can someone explain to me--hopefully using graphs, and small words--why Joe Lieberman is willing to share the precious blessing of American citizenship with Charles Manson, Gary Ridgeway, and David Berkowitz, but wants citizenship stripped from a guy who strapped some firecrackers to a bag of non-explosive fertilizer?"
* This Could Be Easily Abused At Firedoglake, Spencer Ackerman senses a slippery slope and gives a chilling vision of the future:
Notice there's not even a head-nod at someone who's been convicted of any charge. So let me be the first to say that I'm on board with this. Why? Because one day, I and my clique will rise to power. And I anticipate the day when Attorney General Wheeler and Defense Secretary Ackerman take a dossier filled with secret evidence to brief President Hamsher in the Oval Office. ... Immediately after leaving the Oval Office, I instruct a JSOC detachment to apprehend former citizen Joe Lieberman. (We did away with Posse Comitatus earlier.) You'll hear from him later, after the threat has receded, and the Hamsher administration pledges to treat him humanely, consistent with military necessity. We have evidence justifying our decision, and no, you can't see it.
* Why Give Out Citizenship in the First Place? Even the conservative Michelle Malkin thinks there's a better solution than the Lieberman plan: "But perhaps DHS and the State Department should concentrate on the homeland security front door -- making sure jihadis don't get citizenship and other immigration/entrance benefits in the first place -- instead of waiting to deal with it on the back end after the fact."