5.07.2010

Further down the slope

I suppose it's inevitable, but we're now seriously proposing stripping a US citizen of his citizenship so that we can prosecute him in a military tribunal:
Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced a bill in the Senate Thursday to revoke the U.S. citizenship of suspected terrorists if the State Department finds they are affiliated with a foreign terrorist organization.

...

In order to strip a person's citizenship under the bill, Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) said that the State Department would have to prove that the person has joined a foreign terrorist organization voluntarily and that he has an intent to renounce his rights to be an American. Altmire has introduced the same bill in the House with Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.).
I'm not as well versed in the legal implications of this move as some of our readers, but I would suggest that this represents a tremendously dangerous precedent to American liberties. It's one thing to debate the rights of non-citizens who take up terrorist attacks against the US; it's entirely another to strip a rightful citizen of that status to more conveniently prosecute him. And isn't that why we have penalties for treason?

I would also note, with a sceptically raised eyebrow, that the members of the Hutaree militia appear entirely likely to keep their citizenship -- indeed, it doesn't even seem to be an issue for them. That suggests a troubling double standard.