A new bill introduced by Connecticut independent Sen. Joe Lieberman and several other members of Congress would strip the citizenship of Americans deemed by the government to be involved in terrorism.
Lieberman introduced the “Enemy Expatriation Act” Wednesday with Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown, Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent and Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Jason Altmire. The legislation would update federal law to revoke the citizenship of Americans involved in terrorism.
Currently, there are seven categories under federal law for which U.S. citizens can lose their citizenship. Existing expatriation law includes such acts as renouncing one’s citizenship or serving in the armed services of a foreign state engaged in hostilities against the U.S.
The new legislation would expand the list to include “providing material support or resources to a Foreign Terrorist Organization, as designated by the secretary of state, or actively engaging in hostilities against the United States or its allies.”
“Unfortunately, we live in a world where our own citizens may engage in terrorism against our country,” Altmire said. “To help meet the challenges we are facing, and to protect our homeland, updates to our current laws are necessary as we continue to fight the global war on terror.”
The due process rights and citizenship status of Americans abroad who support terrorism was catapulted into the spotlight by the recent killing of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Alwaki in Yemen by a remote drone strike. Al-Alwaki allegedly provided material support to al Qaida.
The Obama administration has refused to disclose any of the evidence justifying al-Alwaki’s killing. In the aftermath, it was revealed that the United States has a kill-or-capture list of American militants. (RELATED: Al Qaida criticizes Obama admin. for ‘contradicting’ US law in al-Awlaki)
The list is determined by a secret panel of senior government officials. There is no public record of the panel, nor is there a law establishing its existence or rules.
However, the bill’s sponsors say it will merely update the laws to assist in the fight against terrorists.
“The repeated attempts by the now-deceased al Qaida leader Anwar al-Alwaki to recruit other American citizens to strike our homeland demonstrates the necessity of updating our laws to account for an enemy who would subvert our freedoms to attack us,” Lieberman said in a statement. “This bill would establish in law a fact that all Americans already know — when an American citizen joins wartime hostilities against the United States, he is also renouncing his citizenship and should not be able to use an American passport as a tool of terror or a shield of self-protection.”