In the last couple of weeks, there has been an onslaught of legislation, both at the state and federal level that directly attacks the Constitution of the United States. First, there was the Arizona immigration legislation, SB1070, which violates the 4th Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure. Then, upon arrest of Faisal Shahzad in New York, calls came up to violate 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination – among others – by not reading a suspect Miranda rights. Now, it’s the 14th Amendment.
Senator Joe Lieberman is introducing legislation that is aimed at revoking citizenship for “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”.
And that’s the way the legislation is worded. So, based on the legislation, if any law enforcement or government agency decides you are “involved in a foreign terrorist organization”, your citizenship can be revoked. If the FBI, for example, decides that you may have a connection to a terrorist organization, your citizenship may be revoked. It may not be true, and the legislation does not wait for a trial. The point of the legislation, as Lieberman has described it, is to be able to revoke citizenship of suspect so they can be treated as enemy combatants instead of criminal suspects. This, of course, is a knee-jerk reaction to the arrest of Shahzad and how they read him is Miranda rights – properly.
Of course, this ignores the fact that such a process is already part of the Constitution. Denaturalization can be implemented if the individual is found – at trial — to have taken up arms against the United States or commits an act of Treason. Shahzad fit this description. He has described the attack himself as an attack on the US. So the process to denaturalize him would be fairly straightforward. Which means there is no need for this legislation.
This legislation will not stand up to Constitutional scrutiny, but it is another scary foray into infringing people’s rights. And what is truly frightening is the number of people, who out of fear, ideology, or simply lack of knowledge regarding their rights, are getting behind these pieces of legislation.
But such flawed legislation isn’t presented because it will actually address an issue properly. No, it’s introduced to achieve a political end, as a cynical attempt to harness immediate public opinion by engendering false fear of something that is already addressed in the Constitution. And they do it by going after our rights.