As if last month's National Defense Authorization Act that explicitly gave the president authority to indefinitely Gitmoize "enemy combatants" was not bad enough, there is more legislative mischief brewing on Capitol Hill. The NDAA, as Gene Healy and Jacob Sullum pointed out, left it up to the courts to decide whether American citizens would actually fall under its purview.
But a new bill—sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA)— called the Enemy Expatriation Act might render that issue moot. There are rumblings on the blogosphere that as the bill currently stands, the government might be able to strip Americans of their citizenship if the State Department certifies that they are either engaged in or support hostilities against the United States. There would be no need to take them before a court of law, present evidence and get a conviction.
And once someone loses their citizenship, they would become fair game for indefinite detention. Pretty ingenious for government work!
Dent, who has been pushing similar legislation since last summer, argues that all he wants to do is update current law to make it appropriate for the war on terror. American citizens who join a foreign army automatically relinquish their citizenship, he notes. He wants the same thing to happen to anyone who joins or supports terrorist groups. All the bill would do is 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 big difference of course is that everyone knows what the definition of army is. But only the executive branch knows what a terrorist group is and what counts as "hostilities." And it could include anyone and anything in that: Timothy McVeigh. Branch Davidians. Freeman Militia. Occupy Wall Streeters. Tea Partiers. H&R commenters.
Ron Paul Daily Paul on this atrocity here.