Today, at noon, Joe Lieberman will introduce legislation designed to strip American citizenship from anybody who chooses to affiliate with a foreign terrorist organization.
The bill is a reaction to the fact that Shahzad was read his Miranda rights, something that Lieberman claims will make it harder to fight terrorism even though (a) anybody arrested in America is read their rights (citizen or not) and (b) Shahzad has been singing like a canary.
Why will Lieberman’s political grandstanding effect you? After all, you’re not planning on becoming a terrorist. One reason is that the Lieberman’s remarks suggest that this bill will be incredibly broad:
under federal law, the “choice” to affiliate or associate with terrorism may be an innocent, unknowing financial sale or purchase, or it may simply entail making a charitable donation for humanitarian purposes to a group that the executive branch suspects of terrorism. [cite]
Remember that under current law, even human rights advocates working with non-violent political groups to help them resolve their conflicts non-violently can be charged with giving material support to terrorists if they also have an armed wing which is classified as a terrorist organization.
Another reason why you should be worried is that he is suggesting doing this by administrative means, even though you would have the right to contest such a finding in court:
Who would determine whether you’re involved with a foreign terror group? The State Department. It already decides what is and isn’t designated as a terror organization. Lieberman’s law would also empower State to determine whether you are in league with one of these groups. [WaPo]
This is in violation of any common sense reading of the 14th Amendment and also of Afroyim v. Rusk, although there is always room for constitutional lawyers to debate such points.
So why does Lieberman want to do this? Because he thinks he’s right (despite the logical inherence of his argument and its probable unconstitutionality) and he knows it’s popular. After all, the average American thinks this will only happen to other (read BROWN) people and for all the noise made by the tea party about restricting goverment powers, none will give a damn about this major grab. The sad irony is that Lieberman and McCain were once seen as the moderate sensible senators. With moderates like this, who needs extremists!