Oh boy, another police state bill enters the US
Congress! The Enemy Expatriation Act will allow citizens to be stripped
of their nationality for “supporting hostilities” against the US.
Conviction, of course, wouldn’t be necessary.
The Enemy Expatriation Act is a short amendment to USC 8 §1481,
the law which spells out criteria for the revocation of US citizenship.
Already listed are naturalization in or serving in the armed forces of
another country, formally renouncing US citizenship, or being convicted
of treason against the US. These are, arguably, perfectly
understandable. But the EEA adds this new reason to revoke citizenship:
[E]ngaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting,
hostilities against the United States.…For purposes of this section,
the term ‘hostilities’ means any conflict subject to the laws of war.
One would think that would constitute treason, and thus such a
section wouldn’t be necessary. But look at paragraph 7 of §1481, which
(7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting
by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States,
violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383
of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section
2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a
conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the
Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction. [Emphasis mine]
There’s your problem. Under the current law, one has to be convicted of treason in order to be stripped of citizenship. This new section, added by the EEA, requires no such thing.
Now, the premise of the bill on its own gives me pause: does
giving five bucks to Wikileaks count as “materially supporting
hostilities”, or is that not a “conflict subject to the laws of war”
yet? That’s ambiguous, though; the complete lack of a due
process requirement — in contrast to the already-existing section
regarding treason — is something else entirely.
The possibility of having one’s citizenship revoked without a trial
is bad enough, but in concert with the recently-passed 2012 National
Defense Authorization Act, it’s terrifying. The latest NDAA, of course,
requires anyone accused of “terrorism” to be indefinitely detained by
the executive branch of the government. In response to public outrage,
an amendment was added which made US citizens exempt to this requirement
(which doesn’t make them exempt to the possibility, but in practice,
perhaps the law will be enforced in such a way). If, under the
EEA, someone is stripped of their citizenship without a trial, then
there is no longer any semantic ambiguity to keep them safe from the
NDAA’s indefinite detention.
There seems to be an accelerating trend of dangerously broad-worded
bills being proposed in the US Congress: the 2012 NDAA, SOPA/PIPA, and
now this. Legislators are playing fast and loose with their
constituents’ civil liberties, seemingly oblivious to the consequences.
This is not a deliberate power-grab by a government gearing up to
repress its population; this is gross negligence on the part of elected
officials. It is not okay to accidentally endanger the people’s rights and liberties. The supporters of this absurd bill cannot be trusted with power.
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