Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Al Gore's running mate for the Vice-Presidency in Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, has proposed a law that would strip the citizenship of anyone suspected of terrorism against the United States, according to POLITICO. In doing so, there wouldn't be a need for the reading of Miranda rights to any suspect.
The key word here is suspect.
Lieberman's proposal comes in the wake of the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, the man arrested for allegedly parking a vehicle full of explosives in Times Square last Saturday. Shahzad is a native of Pakistan but a naturalized American citizen.
Below, an excerpt of a statement by Sen Lieberman, from POLITICO.
“I’m now putting together legislation to amend that to [specify that] any individual American citizen who is found to be involved in a foreign terrorist organization, as defined by the Department of State, would be deprived of their citizenship rights,” Lieberman said Tuesday.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0510/36741.html#ixzz0n6miWJee
There's a few problems with the Senator's logic....besides the fact that it tramples on the United States Constitution, as that it probably violates the Fourth, Fifth, and most importantly the Fourteenth Amendments. The Fourteenth Amendment reads in part....
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
So what about those lawmakers- like Lieberman, John McCain, and Congressman Peter King, for example- who are constantly wringing their hands about "activist judges", and want a "strict interpretation" of the United States Constitution? What is so hard to interpret in ....no State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws ?
Look....I despise those who want to do us harm, cowardly terrorists, those simply bent on cold blooded murder. But do we alter our Constitution out of fear, or to score political points? Because that's the bottom line. That's what this is all about.
Consider this fictional scenario....we'll call the man Hamid Khan. He works in New York City, and is a computer systems analyst. He is a naturalized American citizen, born in Lebanon. One day he emails his cousin Ibrihim in Beiruit. They haven't spoken since childhood. Ibrihim asks Hamid about Madison Square Garden; he tells Hamid he he plays semi-pro basketball in Lebanon....Hamid emails some pictures of the MSG to his cousin, unaware that that Ibrihim is a member of a terrorist organization; they are collecting potential targets for an attack in New York City.
Under the law proposed by Joe Lieberman, an innocent man could potentially be arrested as a conspirator, have his citizenship stripped, not given his Miranda rights, sent to confinement in Guantanamo, where he would be questioned and imprisoned indefinitely until a military tribunal would decide what to do with him.
And do we apply this to suspected "homegrown" terrorists, like Timothy McVeigh, or Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold clones- when does mass murder graduate to terrorism? Do we just apply the law on Muslim extremists and ship them to Gitmo, and let the blond blue eyed mass murderers face the music in civilian courts?
History always repeats itself; in the 1940's American citizens of Japanese decent were rounded up by the tens of thousands without due process and herded into interment camps for the duration of World War II. This never happened to German Americans or Italian Americans....yes, resident German and Italian aliens were interred in the United States, but the Japanese-Americans were given "special handling". Due process was trampled on then, as would due process be trampled on now if this proposal by Joe Lieberman, this subjugation of out Constitution, is allowed to pass.
Lieberman's proposed law is meant to send any suspected terrorist to a military tribunal. Its that simple. Frankly, that is a slap in the face of our civil courts. Our judicial system did manage to do a pretty good job of dealing with McVeigh, who got the needle he so richly deserved.
And by the way...where are the Tea Partiers now with their selective love of the Constitution and its heart and soul, our Bill of Rights?
I guess "due process" and the definition of citizenship must take a permanent back seat to gun rights and freedom of assembly with those guys.
Below, two videos from Rachel Maddow on the Faisal Shahzad case, and the reaction to his arrest, and to due process from "the usual suspects". Pay attention to the second video featuring Constitutional attorney Jonathan Turley of the George Washington University Law School regarding the probable unconstitutionality of Leiberman's proposed law.
And for even more on this subject, here's more from Rachel Weiner of THE WASHINGTON POST.