Terrorism

House Passes Bill to Deny/Revoke Passports for Americans Deemed to Have 'Helped' Terrorist Organizations [UPDATED w/ even more outrage!]

No appeals, no definition of 'helped,' no due process

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Thanks. Won't be giving 'em back. |||

On Tuesday, without much notice, and after a whopping 15-minute debate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed via voice vote the Foreign Terrorist Organization Passport Revocation Act of 2015. Its intent: "To authorize the revocation or denial of passports and passport cards to individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations, and for other purposes." Some of the bill's sparse details:

the Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport [or revoke a previously issued one] to any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization

How does today's John Kerry or tomorrow's John Bolton make such a determination? The bill doesn't say. Can we at least define "helped," given how such mushy and expansive language in the Patriot Act led to some unjust outcomes? No, we cannot. Can the so-determined terrorist-helpers appeal? Not a word about that. This is a 2001-style removal of due process in the face of a terrorism panic. Here's Yahoo! News:

US law currently allows passports to be revoked for national security or foreign policy reasons, but Americans whose passports are revoked can appeal through administrative channels. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has argued – like other conservatives before him – that a more explicit measure is necessary.

Those "other conservatives" notably include presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who last year introduced the similar Expatriate Terrorist Act, which goes as far as actually stripping the nationality of Americans who are deemed to have given "material assistance" to organizations designated as terrorist. As Steve Chapman explained last year, this gifting of power to the Executive Branch at the expense of individual liberty is a "really bad idea."

It's never not growing. ||| YouTube
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The House bill's author, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas), sold the idea back in January with a blast of full metal hysteria:

Recent deadly terrorist attacks in France, Australia and Canada have reminded us that radical Islamic terrorists are ready and eager to take their murderous rampage worldwide. The threat to America from these groups has never been greater. Unfortunately, some of our citizens have travelled to the terrorist hotbeds in Syria and beyond to help extremist groups accomplish that goal. The Benedict Arnold traitors who have turned against America and joined the ranks of foreign radical terrorist armies should lose all rights afforded to our citizens. This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice. Most importantly, this legislation will prevent turned Americans from entering the United States undetected.  These people are not returning to America to open coffee shops; they are coming back to kill. We must stop them from coming back at all.

Once again, conservatives are demonstrating that their skepticism of government infallibility can disappear overnight in the face of a real or imagined threat. The arbirtrary, inevitably politicized Executive Branch definition of the term "foreign terrorist organization" alone should be enough to give any backer the willies; preferably, members of the U.S. Senate will see this bill as the unnecessary, rights-shredding menace that it is.

UPDATE: Freedom fighter Norm Singleton alerts me to the gobsmacking fact that the latest iteration of the godawful transportation bill includes a provision to cover the perpetual Highway Trust Fund shortfall by allowing the IRS to revoke your passport if you owe more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. Better travel while you still can, Al Sharpton!

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  1. You have to be pretty stupid to not understand the iron law when you’re not in power.

  2. “This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice.”

    How about indicting “these individuals” and issuing arrest warrants? That would also allow them to be captured and brought to justice.

    And judges could require Americans indicted of crimes to surrender their passports. Come to think of it, I think judges do this already.

    1. “Here’s my passport.”

      “It says here you’ve been charged with terrorism. But since your passport checks out, we have to let you leave the country.”

      /shit that never happens

    2. Indictment seems to be the best solution – particularly for people trying to return.

      TBH: if these idiots want to leave the US to go fight with ISIS, I would prefer helping them get there. Get them out of the country if their goal in life is murder and mayhem.

      1. if these idiots want to leave the US to go fight with ISIS, I would prefer helping them get there. Get them out of the country if their goal in life is murder and mayhem.

        Problem is, it has been Europe’s experience (not only ISIS, but Chechnya, Afghanistan, etc.) that they come back. And it’s kind of like how a petty criminal goes to prison and comes back even more dangerous.

        1. I get that. But some of them won’t come back and some are going to get killed. Denying them passports makes it more likely those who want to come back are going to come in on false papers. I know they may do that anyway, but some may just use their good ol’ US passport and they could be arrested at the port of entry.

        2. they come back

          Exactly why anyone who does travel to fight with ISIS should have their passport revoked? I mean, sure, they can always get forged papers, but why make it easy for them.

          1. Hey, how about those treason laws? US is currently fighting ISIS. Why not invoke them instead of coming up with new laws?

            1. Because the purpose of government is to come up with new laws, not enforce existing laws. /sarc

          2. Like I say, if they’re facing criminal charges, let the court take away their passports. If they’re not facing criminal charges, don’t assume they’re a terrorist when they take a trip to, say, Jordan or even Syria.

    3. Do you need a passport to leave the country? I thought you needed it to get back into the country.

      1. From the government’s perspective, no. But if you’re flying, the airline will want to see a passport to make sure you can get into wherever you’re going.

      2. I’m a little surprised that the US still hasn’t implemented outgoing immigration checkpoints. European countries have them, so the lefties would be on board, and the right would love that extra bit of authority. It just seems, politically at least, like such a no brainer.

  3. This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally

    Seriously, he actually said this. This is the terrorist version of gun control will prevent criminals from acquiring firearms.

    1. If we know who these people are, couldn’t we send officers to the location listed as their physical address on the passport application?

    2. Look, there are no bad guys in the world who have access to private airplanes or any other means of international travel. NONE!

      1. +1 Abdallah Jones

    3. Look, even though we constantly complain that our southern border is a porous free-for-all, which terrorists, drug mules, and other sordid criminal elements continually drift across with total unchecked impunity.. if this heavy handed and patently stupid idea stops just one suspected “terrorist” from leaving this country from any federally administered port.. it will be sooo worth the trade off of our dignity, freedom, and independence.. just you watch, it’s fool-proof..

      /RNC logic

  4. allowing the IRS to revoke your passport if you owe more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. Better travel while you still can, Al Sharpton!

    OK, if this is Republicans trolling, it’s awesome. Too bad that IRS would have the final say, so hopefully sanity will prevail and they’ll get rid of it.

    And hopefully Senate stops this idiot bill from proceeding. Jesus, never give government “other purposes”!

    1. I know you’re (semi-) joking, but, AFAIK, the title of every single federal bill ends with “and for other purposes.”

      1. Seriously?

        Remember, I’m a dumb Canadian. FYTW* is built-in into our Constitution and thus hedging is unnecessary.

        *seriously – our Charter of Rights has a clause that says Parliament can violate any right in it, provided certain conditions are met.

        1. I’m serious.

          It’s all the authority a congresscritter needs to sneak in something totally unrelated to the bill.

        2. I hope you are joking.

          If not, now I understand why libertarians seem to have gained more traction here (though still not much) versus in the States. (I’m still relatively new here.)

  5. to any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization

    This is what Eric Holder referred to as “due process”.

    1. We’re all squares in the disposition matrix.

  6. The government can’t keep you safe if it has to go through the trouble of due process.

  7. This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice.
    Dizzy, now.

  8. Don’t see what could POSSIBLY go wrong with this. Nope. Nothin’.

  9. What could possibly go wrong? Surely the State Dept. would never mistakenly put someone on that list and consequently prevent them from returning home.

    Is this not revoking someone’s right to move about without due process? I understand the threat. But it seems much easier to merely apprehend the culprits at the port of entry. In addition to the No Fly List we’ll have a No International Travel List.

  10. So… another ‘libertarian moment’ brought to you by the Federal Government.

    I’m thinking of writing a book. I’ve got a working title:

    “Goosestepping towards Gomorrah”

  11. Maybe we should turn over all government functions to the IRS. Think of the efficiency gains.
    It could work.

  12. Helped- If you buy lunch for a guy who does the laundry for a lady who cleans a terrorist’s pool…you’ve “helped” a terrorist.

    No chance of abuse here.

    1. It’s doesn’t have to be that complicated.

      The federal government helped the rise of ISIS by bombing Assad.

      So the federal government helped terrorists. Ever fed needs to lose his or her passport.

      1. Your comment helps ISIS by pointing out hypocrisy that ISIS can exploit in its propaganda. Any minute now, an AUA will fIle a subpoena and gag order to secretly obtain your identity and revoke your passport. You won’t even know about it until you try to get home from Cancun and wind up in Gitmo.

    2. This kind of thing is usually employed against people write things that are construded as providing some sort of moral support to the enemy, by fostering an atmosphere critical of the state or otherwise encouraging discontent. I know several cases in Montana, for instance, where criminal syndicalism (which is defined as providing aid or encouragement, knowingly or unknowingly, to a criminal enterprise) and accountability were successfully prosecuted on precisely this basis. I even recall one case where obstruction (which is defined as not obeying an order, lawful or otherwise, emitted by a peace officer) was charged in prosecuting someone because her failure to spontaneously say certain things, in a particular situation, encouraged an atmosphere of disobedience which threatened the lives of several people (The judge gave a long speech at sentencing about this and was quite plain that the threat in question was from jacked off peace officers who might start shooting people because they won’t get on their knees on command, but seemed to see no problem in this, rather laid all responsibility on a little old lady with a bad attitude; I was actually allowed to videogram that whole trial, but I unfortunately no longer have a copy of the tape, though I’m sure it’s out there somefuckingwhere. This same judge used to carry a pistol in court. He was removed a few years later for some kind of drunken misbehaviour.).

  13. Vice President Joe Biden, meanwhile, is pushing for a $12 federal minimum wage.

    Please! make it 20.16 for 2016!

  14. Get to know Kepler-452b, a planet 1,400 light years away from our solar system that may be able to support water and life.

    Libertopia, here we come!

  15. You didn’t build grow that – Venezuela edition.

    Venezuelan farmers ordered to hand over produce to state

    Farmers and manufacturers who produce milk, pasta, oil, rice, sugar and flour have been told to supply between 30 per cent and 100 per cent of their products to the state stores.

    All in the service of the greater good! Everyone who had their stuff confiscated should be happy and grateful!

    Venezuela’s official rate of inflation hit 64 per cent last year ? the highest in the world. The government hides the scale of shortages, but angry consumers regularly post photos of empty shelves on social media.

    Control of the supply chain. Control of money. Control of information. Control of the people.

    Control, control, control. F***ing bastards.

    1. Socialism is like a road to serfdom. If only some had written a book about it!

    2. I am sure the farmers will work harder and produce twice as much next year. For the people.

      1. Also, there is no way corrupt govt officials will steal the whole lot before it gets to ‘the people’.

        Socialism for the win!

        Anyone heard from Sean Penn lately?

      2. If you believe that, I’ve got some Arizona beachfront property for sale.

        1. C’mon man – *all* of Arizona is beachfront property. Its just 200 miles to the water.

    3. Fortunately, our own Supreme Court sided with the farmers and against those who had been running a similar shakedown in the raisin industry for many years. Yes, it CAN (and DOES) happen here!

  16. any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization

    This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice.

    HELP!

  17. The post-9/11 pants-shitting never ended.

    1. If anything it seems it’s primed us to react worse to even miniature-scale terrorist acts.

      Every underwear bomber is another permanent restriction on air travel.

  18. the godawful transportation bill includes a provision to cover the perpetual Highway Trust Fund shortfall by allowing the IRS to revoke your passport if you owe more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. Better travel while you still can, Al Sharpton!

    Please, Al Sharpton is an officially designated Top. Man. Rules are only for us little people.

  19. the godawful transportation bill includes a provision to cover the perpetual Highway Trust Fund shortfall by allowing the IRS to revoke your passport if you owe more than $50,000 in unpaid taxes. Better travel while you still can, Al Sharpton!

    They already revoke your passport if you owe back child support. Of course they’re going to revoke it for unpaid taxes. Because limiting a person’s ability to make money totally helps them pay what they owe!

    1. No one NEEDS access to more than one country.

      You probably support the right to a high-capacity passport (extra pages) or one with the shoulder-thingy-that-folds-up.

    2. Proof that debtor’s prison never went away.

    3. “Because limiting a person’s ability to make money totally helps them pay what they restricts your financial ability to fight the IRS in court and negotiate a settlement on what they claim you owe!”

  20. On the one hand, giving the IRS authority to revoke your passport over non-payment of taxes makes a lot of sense: If you haven’t paid your “protection money,” the government refuses to protect you when you travel overseas. Proving that the traveler qualified for a particular government’s protection was, indeed, one of the fundamental purposes of passports in the first place. On the other hand, in the modern age when governments can track and block everybody, losing a passport can severely curtail one’s freedom of movement — a fundamental right — and I do not want to see an agency of the Executive Branch get to deny/violate ANY of my rights without prior due process and criminal conviction. Shame on Congress for even considering this horrible piece of legislation; have they passed it yet?

    1. I suspect revoking your passport might have more to do with making it difficult for you to get somewhere where it’s safe to renounce U.S. citizenship, so you can tell the IRS to pound sand.

  21. As Steve Chapman explained last year, this gifting of power to the Executive Branch at the expense of individual liberty is a “really bad idea.”

    Man, I really hate it when I find myself in agreement with Steve Chapman. It makes me feel as if I overlooked something.

  22. I went ahead and applied for a passport back in 96. It was close to a hundred dollars in fees I had to pay. A few weeks later, I got a response saying that affidavits were needed from various people, including my adoptive parents, my natural parents, my siblings, a certain number of acquaintances, all of whom would have to provide their SS numbers and copies of various documents like ID cards and birth certificates. There was no way a nest of paranoiacs like that was going to do this, and it seemed crasy to even arsk them. So I just wrote it off as a loss. Then, in 2001, I hear that there’s some guy from the state department in town “investigating” my case. He approached several people in town, made them sign affidavits averring how long they’d known me and so forth and apparently made a big deal out of the penalties for lying to him. After making the rounds, he finally got to me, and arsked a few questions, not much, said everything seemed fine, left me his business card, which was absurd–his name and “State Department” and a telephone number was all that was on it. When I arsked if this meant they may go ahead through with the passport, he said sure probably, that I ought to call them.

    1. So after a few days, I went ahead and called them, and it was insane. The guy kept on about how he was on to me, asking weird questions which I think he was using to try to trap me into revealing some sort of fraudulency. At one point he arsked for my email address, and I gave him the one I had set up for this purpose, and he refused it, saying he wanted to know my real address. Extremely repugnant and insulting throughout. After it all, he said that I obviously did not need a passport so he was going to go ahead and cancel my application. I questioned this claim of a passport being granted on a basis of need, and he said if I could get together a firm itinerary showing where I wanted to go and when, in detail, then he would reconsider. So I said if you’re cancelling the application, how about a refund? He just laughed.

    2. Prior to 2001 obtaining a passport was both inexpensive and easy.

      1. Tell that to… me? Fuck you.

        1. How big are your breasts? Are you pretty? A dog? Blonde? Brunette? How are your teeth? Breath?

          You seem a little bitchy. That’s not necessarily a negative mark. All depends on what the rest of your resume looks like.

          I am shallow, so I’ll need very recent pictures or videos. Webcam is even better.

          If everything looks good, I’ll let you know if we’ll be fucking.

      2. I would concede it was easy unless for some reason or other somebody in the bureaucracy decides to fuck you over. As for cheapness, they charged me, as I said, close to a hundred dollars. At the same time, a passport wasn’t as necessary then. My brother lived in Mexico for a while, and I went over the border both ways quite openly and never had to show any kind of documentation.

      3. I also had to struggle for six years in order to get a fucking social security number, which I have been told was so blooming easy, and that was prior to your magical MMI annum. At one point they accosted the guy who had driven me to the social security office and demanded his identification and started questioning him about what he knew about me. And when I’m in the waiting room, I look around, and everybody else there is speaking either Russian or Ukrainian and I’m the only natural born English American, but it was I got denied or they demanded more documents and affidavits from other people, which I could not obtain, and what not, every time. Absurdly, during that period, simply by being alive and in the system, I was able to generate enough documentation to satisfy them ultimately, but it was all things I got AFTER the initial denial, so shouldn’t reasonably have any bearing on the question of whether or not prior to that application I was a natural citizen.

  23. One reliable indicator of the degree to which a nation has descended into socialism/statism/prog-fascism is in how difficult it is for it’s citizens to travel from and return to within their nation’s borders. The greater the degree of socialism/statism/prog-fascism, the greater the degree of difficulty traveling freely.

    At this rate, it won’t be long before we’ll be required to report our whereabouts, and intent to move around, even within our own borders.

    1. This is something that those fighting/desiring an ‘end’ to illegal immigration should keep in mind. That, coupled with ‘efforts to combat terrorism’ and ‘making people pay their fair share’ could easily morph into internal passports and ‘ID on demand’.

  24. “This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice.”

    I don’t understand how this works.

    1. The US can’t (or at least *shouldn’t*) be able to forbid you from leaving (or entering, if you’ve got ‘permission’ to reside here).

    2. I have *never* needed to provide a passport on departure (flying) from the country. On arrival at my destination – sometimes. Not having a passport is not going to stop me from driving into or out of Mexico, for example. Just use my birth certificate and a picture ID.

    1. when is the last time you tried this mexico without a passport trick?

  25. Reading articles like these almost convinces me that aspiring “black market” start-ups have unions, and lobbying organizations on K street, actively pushing congress on behalf of their interests. Their cronies see potential in “under developed or untapped markets”, and pursue legislation towards maximizing potential, and profit, while keeping squeamish legitimate prospectors at bay with red tape like.. the implicit threat of federal prison time, which is a risk these start-ups are willing to take..

  26. This bill will help law enforcement locate these individuals by preventing them from travelling internationally so that they can be captured and brought to justice. Most importantly, this legislation will prevent turned Americans from entering the United States undetected.

    How is it not easier for the U.S. to track someone travelling on a legitimate U.S. passport, than a person travelling on foreign ID, fake ID or off the grid?

  27. Terrorism is not a victimless crime.

    Therefore, law enforcement personnel make no effort whatsoever to find terrorists.

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