In his Washington Post article titled 10 Reasons The United States Is No Longer The Land Of The Free (January 15, 2012), Jonathan Turley addressed the issue of indefinite detention of American citizens. He wrote:
Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism. While Sen. Carl Levin insisted the bill followed existing law “whatever the law is,” the Senate specifically rejected an amendment that would exempt citizens and the Administration has opposed efforts to challenge such authority in federal court. The Administration continues to claim the right to strip citizens of legal protections based on its sole discretion.
The next day on this blog, Professor Turley said that he had been heartened by the response to his column. He added, “a few commenters continue to suggest that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) does not allow for the indefinite detention of citizens.”
Even people who believe that NDAA does not allow for the indefinite detention of citizens should be concerned about a proposed amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act that would give our government “the authority to strip a person of their American citizenship if that person is accused or suspected of supporting ‘hostilities’ against the U.S. The amendment, known as the Enemy Expatriation Act (EEA), was introduced, in October, by Rep. Charles Dent, R-Pa., and Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Scott Brown, R-Mass.
According to ‘Enemy Expatriation Act’ Could Compound NDAA Threat to Citizen Rights, an article written by Ashley Portero that was published in the International Business Times, EEA “would allow the government to revoke Americans of their U.S. citizenship if they are accused or suspected of ‘engaging in, or purposefully or materially supporting, hostilities.’ The sparse amendment, which defines ‘hostilities’ as ‘any conflict subject to the laws of war,’ does not say which government body — say a military tribunal or a congressional panel — has the power to brand suspected persons as hostiles.” If EEA becomes law, our government “could potentially revoke the citizenship of anyone deemed to be supporting hostilities against the U.S., thereby subjecting him or her to the indefinite military detention provision of the NDAA.”
Devon Chaffee, who is a legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said, “Fortunately, it’s unlikely that Congress would pass something like this. If it did, the law would probably be found unconstitutional since the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress cannot revoke U.S. citizenship without a citizen’s consent.” He added, “The theory behind this is citizenship is a core civil liberty. That’s why the right to nationality is recognized by the global community as a fundamental human right.”
Portero wrote that under regulations that were “set by section 349 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, American citizens can only be stripped of their citizenship if they renounce it ‘in some way…’” She added that “joining the military of a foreign state or engaging in ‘a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force’ the U.S. government are actions that can be interpreted as voluntarily renunciations of citizenship.”
Govtrack.us claims that the purpose of H.R. 3166 and S. 1698 is to “add engaging in or supporting hostilities against the United States to the list of acts for which United States nationals would lose their nationality.”
The sponsors of the legislation argue that the Enemy Expatriation Act is constitutional. Their contention is that “citizens who engage in hostilities against the U.S. perform those acts with the intention of relinquishing their nationality.”
Now, one has to ask what our government might construe as “engaging in or supporting hostilities against the U.S.” Is this something we citizens should be concerned about?
‘Enemy Expatriation Act’ Could Compound NDAA Threat to Citizen Rights (International Business Times)
The Enemy Expatriation Act and the NDAA: Due Process Destroyed? (The New American)
Enemy Expatriation Act (Examiner)
H.R. 3166: Enemy Expatriation Act (govtrack.us)
S. 1698: Enemy Expatriation Act (govtrack.us)