Greg Sargent at the Washington Post is reporting that Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will be proposing a new law that could potentially strip Americans of their citizenship if they’re involved with foreign terrorist organizations. The limited details revealed today are enough to send a chill down the spine of civil libertarians around the country. I will be discussing this issue tonight on Rachel Maddow’s show.
The law reportedly would allow the State Department to treat citizenship like an administrative matter — deciding whether you have associated with terrorist organizations. Agency procedures are widely condemned for their lack of due process protections and the heavy deference given to agency decision-making. We have seen abuses of this system in the designation of organizations under a similar process.
To his credit, Schumer has come out against Lieberman’s proposal, again as reported by Sargant. He reports that Schumer initially indicated that he might support the law. However, Schumer’s staff insists that he was approached briefly in the hall on the subject but that he could not support such a proposal.
While the burden would be on the State Department and you would have access to court review, the agency process could make it difficult to contest such findings — particularly with the use of secret evidence (and barring the use of evidence by the defendant on national security grounds).
Stripping citizens of their citizenship could also create stateless persons — a problem in international law. Moreover, this process could occur at the same time that a person is fighting criminal charges — adding to the practical and financial burden.
Lieberman will reportedly hold a presser on Thursday.
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