what other people think

Should Suspected Terrorists Be Stripped of Their American Citizenship?

As a sort of parallel to the hand-wringing of John McCain and Peter King yesterday over treating would-be car bomber Faisal Shahzad like the American citizen that he is, Joe Lieberman is introducing a bill in Congress to strip American citizens of their citizenship if they’re “found to be involved with a foreign terrorist organization.” This would allow the government to declare the suspected terrorist an enemy combatant and avoid all those pesky rights afforded to American citizens accused of crimes. Chuck Schumer, for one, is already kind of onboard, saying, “That sounds like something I’d support, but I’d have to look at the legislation.” After all, we all learned back in grade school how justice in America works, right? Innocent until allegedly guilty.

• Megan McArdle wants to know “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?” [Megan McArdle/Atlantic]

• Steve Benen doesn’t understand how this would work. “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?” [Political Animal/Washington Monthly]

• Andrew Sullivan calls Lieberman and McCain “adolescent hysterics, whose terrorized Manichean view of the world sees nothing but an existential struggle and the imperative to win it.” [Andrew Sullivan/Atlantic]

• Glenn Greenwald tweets, “It’d be pretty stupid to have something called a ‘Bill of Rights’ if the Gov’t could just take your citizenship away and then deny them.” [Glenn Greenwald/Twitter]

• Julian Sanchez finds it “depressing that a sitting senator would treat the rights of citizenship so lightly for the sake of a vapid, strutting display of ‘toughness.’” [CATO @ Liberty]

• Michelle Malkin suggests that “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.” [Michelle Malkin]

• Matthew Yglesias thinks that while “there’s a case for saying that convicted terrorists should be stripped of their citizenship, this would be part of the punishment that follows a conviction. You can’t have a system where a cop comes up to me and says ‘you’re a terrorist, therefore you have no citizenship rights, therefore I’m putting you under arrest and you don’t get any due process and now it’s off to jail with you — no rights, no warning.’” [Think Progress]

• Sandy Levinson, a law professor at the University of Texas, writes, “No trial or conviction necessary in Sen. Lieberman’s world. I’ll take Glenn Beck (or, for that matter, the Antonin Scalia who forcefully dissented in Hamdi and said in effect that any policy like Lieberman’s would require the Congress overtly to suspend habeas corpus) over the egregious junior senator from Connecticut.” [Balkinization]

Should Suspected Terrorists Be Stripped of Their American Citizenship?