By Joe Lieberman
The Hartford Courant
June 29, 2010
What a complete and total ass this man is. "Those who take up arms against America would lose the rights and privileges of citizenship, just as would have happened to Americans who joined the Nazis during World War II." Is he saying that no one indeed lost their citizenship during World War II? "The legislation requires proof that individuals committed forbidden acts..." Like murder, arson, assault, robbery? Don't we already have laws against these things? Lieberman spills the beans when he says, "The proposed legislation is not the sole solution to defeating the trend of our enemies using the Internet to radicalize American citizens." What he means is that the truth is his enemy. The "homegrown radicalization" of American young people doesn't require a foreign source. It is something he should legitimately be afraid of, as he is a completely corrupted American, deeply enmeshed in the sorts of foreign entanglements George Washington warned us about. As Pogo might put it, Lieberman is himself the enemy of the American state.
Since 1940, the United States has had a law that takes away the citizenship of Americans who join the armed forces of a country at war with us. That law recognizes that waging war against the U.S. is inconsistent with the rights, privileges and responsibilities of American citizenship. But the enemies we are fighting today at home and abroad are not subject to this law because they are terrorists who do not join the army of a foreign country or follow the laws of war. Last month, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and I introduced a bill to make the existing law apply to the terrorists with whom we are at war.
If enacted, this legislation will provide additional tools to our military, our intelligence community and our law-enforcement agents to prevent Americans who join al-Qaida, its affiliates and other foreign terrorists from hiding behind the benefits of citizenship to avoid detection and responsibility for their actions. Those who take up arms against America would lose the rights and privileges of citizenship, just as would have happened to Americans who joined the Nazis during World War II.
The bill will make Americans safer without compromising our civil liberties. I particularly want to point out, respectfully, that contrary to suggestions such as those made by Rabia Chaudry in her June 13 opinion piece in this paper, the bill does not target Muslims or any other group or individual based on anything other than their actions. The bill provides for citizenship to be taken from those who are proved to have helped al-Qaida or other foreign terrorist organizations, not because of who they are, including attributes such as race, ethnicity, national origin or religion.
Similarly, the allegation that the act would strip citizenship from anyone merely accused of having terrorist ties is wrong. The legislation requires proof that individuals committed forbidden acts and preserves the existing law's considerable safeguards to protect individuals' rights. Before Americans' citizenship can be removed, the State Department must determine they joined a terrorist organization with the intent of giving up their U.S. citizenship. That is a clear and high standard, and its determination can be challenged in U.S. federal courts. The government bears the burden to prove the charges.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this statutory framework in 1980 and provided further support for the premise of this legislation in a decision this month. In upholding the constitutionality of a law that makes it a federal crime to support foreign terrorist organizations, the court explained "that the government's interest in combating terrorism is an urgent objective of the highest order." I wholeheartedly agree. I also agree with the court's description of foreign terrorist organizations as "deadly groups" and its conclusion that that working with them "serves to legitimize and further their terrorist means," helping them "facilitate more terrorist attacks."
This bill provides another tool to blunt the disturbing trend of terrorists radicalizing and recruiting young Americans. By improving the ability of our military, intelligence community and law enforcement agents to surveil, apprehend, prevent attacks by and prosecute Americans who join foreign terrorist organizations, this bill provides an effective counter-measure to terrorist groups' latest tactic. Americans will become a less attractive target for recruitment if we diminish the strategic value of their citizenship as a terrorist weapon.
The proposed legislation is not the sole solution to defeating the trend of our enemies using the Internet to radicalize American citizens, nor will it thwart every future attack against the U.S. by homegrown American terrorists. But by removing the citizenship of people who join groups at war with the U.S., we eliminate one incentive for radicalization of our young citizens by extremist groups and take away protections American law would give them if they were allowed to remain citizens. This law has been on our books for 70 years; it is time to update it for the war we have been fighting for the last decade.
Joe Lieberman of New Haven, is a U.S. senator who won election as an independent and caucuses with the Democrats.