Commentary Magazine


Topic: Nidal Hassan

Lieberman Legislation

Sen. Joe Lieberman introduced his legislation today to strip terrorists of citizenship in the same way an existing statute passed in 1940 does for those who take up arms against the U.S. in a foreign army. At a news conference today, he explained:

The bill we are introducing today – the Terrorist Expatriation Act – updates the 1940 law to account for the enemy we are fighting today.

Under the Terrorist Expatriation Act, the State Department will now also be able to revoke the citizenship of an American citizen who affiliates with a Foreign Terrorist Organization or who fights against our country.  Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as you are likely aware, are also designated by the State Department.

The same due process that applies to the existing statute will apply to those whose citizenship is revoked under our proposed amendment to the law.  The State Department will make an administrative determination that a U.S. Citizen has indicated an intent to renounce their citizenship by supporting an FTO.  That individual will then have the right to appeal that determination within the State Department and, then, to a federal district court.

He explains the context in which this would be used:

The facts are now clear.  Over the past several years, the threat from Islamist terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda has changed.  On 9/11, 19 Islamist terrorists who were trained abroad were sent here to carry out those horrific attacks.  Now, with increasing frequency, U.S. Citizens like Nidal Hassan, Abdul Hakim Muhammad, or Faisal Shahzad, who are inspired or recruited by violent Islamist ideology plan and execute attacks right here in the United States.

And with increasing frequency, westerners, including U.S. citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki, Adam Gadahn, and many young Somali-Americans are traveling abroad to join and fight for al-Qaeda or affiliated Islamist terrorist groups.  In fact, it has become a strategy of al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups over the past couple of years to recruit U.S. citizens who can train overseas and then use their American passports to re-enter the U.S. for the purposes of planning and carrying out attacks against us.  Though we are still learning details, it appears that Shahzad traveled abroad to receive terrorist training that he used to build the bombs in the car he parked in Times Square.

The legislation we are introducing today will help take that ability away from the terrorists.  For example, if a U.S. citizen travels to Somalia to train with and fight for al-Shabaab – as more than 20 young men have done over the past several years – the State Department will now have the authority to revoke their citizenship so that they cannot return here to carry out an attack.   If, in some way, they do, and are then captured, they will not enjoy the rights and privileges of American citizenship in the legal proceedings against them.

Unlike his Democratic colleagues, Lieberman got a favorable reaction from the administration. Hillary Clinton was sounding sensible:

Clinton explained that the State Department already has expatriation authority within U.S. law that permits the State Department to rescind American citizenship if someone shows some kind of allegiance to a foreign state.

U.S. citizenship is “a privilege, not a right,” Clinton said, adding that people who enter into U.S. citizenship through naturalization swear to uphold their oath to the Constitution and that those who serve foreign terrorists “are clearly in violation, in my personal opinion, of that oath which they swore when they became citizens.”

The State Department has exercised the expatriation authority in the past, she said, adding that she understands the desire from the members of Congress, and the State Department will take a hard look at this legislation.

Both Lieberman and Clinton make clear that the critics who decry efforts to strip combatants of citizenship really have a quarrel with existing law. Do those lawmakers want to repeal the 1940 statute? If not, they should explain why we don’t want a framework that has been used effectively against traditional nation-states to be updated and made relevant to the war against Islamic terrorists.

Sen. Joe Lieberman introduced his legislation today to strip terrorists of citizenship in the same way an existing statute passed in 1940 does for those who take up arms against the U.S. in a foreign army. At a news conference today, he explained:

The bill we are introducing today – the Terrorist Expatriation Act – updates the 1940 law to account for the enemy we are fighting today.

Under the Terrorist Expatriation Act, the State Department will now also be able to revoke the citizenship of an American citizen who affiliates with a Foreign Terrorist Organization or who fights against our country.  Foreign Terrorist Organizations, as you are likely aware, are also designated by the State Department.

The same due process that applies to the existing statute will apply to those whose citizenship is revoked under our proposed amendment to the law.  The State Department will make an administrative determination that a U.S. Citizen has indicated an intent to renounce their citizenship by supporting an FTO.  That individual will then have the right to appeal that determination within the State Department and, then, to a federal district court.

He explains the context in which this would be used:

The facts are now clear.  Over the past several years, the threat from Islamist terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda has changed.  On 9/11, 19 Islamist terrorists who were trained abroad were sent here to carry out those horrific attacks.  Now, with increasing frequency, U.S. Citizens like Nidal Hassan, Abdul Hakim Muhammad, or Faisal Shahzad, who are inspired or recruited by violent Islamist ideology plan and execute attacks right here in the United States.

And with increasing frequency, westerners, including U.S. citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki, Adam Gadahn, and many young Somali-Americans are traveling abroad to join and fight for al-Qaeda or affiliated Islamist terrorist groups.  In fact, it has become a strategy of al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups over the past couple of years to recruit U.S. citizens who can train overseas and then use their American passports to re-enter the U.S. for the purposes of planning and carrying out attacks against us.  Though we are still learning details, it appears that Shahzad traveled abroad to receive terrorist training that he used to build the bombs in the car he parked in Times Square.

The legislation we are introducing today will help take that ability away from the terrorists.  For example, if a U.S. citizen travels to Somalia to train with and fight for al-Shabaab – as more than 20 young men have done over the past several years – the State Department will now have the authority to revoke their citizenship so that they cannot return here to carry out an attack.   If, in some way, they do, and are then captured, they will not enjoy the rights and privileges of American citizenship in the legal proceedings against them.

Unlike his Democratic colleagues, Lieberman got a favorable reaction from the administration. Hillary Clinton was sounding sensible:

Clinton explained that the State Department already has expatriation authority within U.S. law that permits the State Department to rescind American citizenship if someone shows some kind of allegiance to a foreign state.

U.S. citizenship is “a privilege, not a right,” Clinton said, adding that people who enter into U.S. citizenship through naturalization swear to uphold their oath to the Constitution and that those who serve foreign terrorists “are clearly in violation, in my personal opinion, of that oath which they swore when they became citizens.”

The State Department has exercised the expatriation authority in the past, she said, adding that she understands the desire from the members of Congress, and the State Department will take a hard look at this legislation.

Both Lieberman and Clinton make clear that the critics who decry efforts to strip combatants of citizenship really have a quarrel with existing law. Do those lawmakers want to repeal the 1940 statute? If not, they should explain why we don’t want a framework that has been used effectively against traditional nation-states to be updated and made relevant to the war against Islamic terrorists.

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To Yemen?

Rep. Frank Wolf has sent a letter to the Justice Department and issued a press release questioning the release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, especially “in light of the recent tragedy at Fort Hood where the alleged shooter reportedly has ties to a radical cleric now living in Yemen.” Yes, that is correct. Wolf’s press release explains:

“The American people have a right to know who these detainees are and what acts of terror they were engaged in,” Wolf wrote. “If the public had this information, they would never tolerate the release of these men back to unstable countries with a sizeable al Qaeda presence.” …

“If the administration does not halt these pending releases immediately, it could be responsible for creating a new revolving door of terrorism that will cost American lives,” Wolf wrote today. “The security of the American people could be at risk because of the administration’s relentless pursuit of a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay by January 22, 2010.”

“Why has the administration made basic information about these dangerous detainees so highly classified that it cannot be shared with the American people or the media?” Wolf asked. “I have reviewed the materials. These are dangerous individuals. To release committed al Qaeda terrorists back to Yemen under these conditions would be an act of gross malfeasance that undermines the safety of the American people.”

In his statement, Wolf also raised the red flag about Anwar al-Aulaqi, “the radical cleric now living in Yemen who has ties to Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal M. Hasan and also mentored two of the 9/11 hijackers.” Wolf does not subscribe to the view that Hasan was simply suffering from post-traumatic stress:

“As the facts surrounding the Fort Hood attack have emerged, it is becoming clear that anyone who is cited in the 9/11 Commission Report — as al-Aulaqi was on page 221 — as a ‘significant’ contact for 9/11 terrorists Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar should be considered a ‘significant’ connection to Hasan,” Wolf wrote. “Al-Aulaqi has subsequently praised Hasan’s attack stating on his Web site: ‘Nidal Hassan is a hero. … Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal,’’’ according to a translation.

Really, if not for the appalling decision to move 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the U.S. for a trial — that will soon devolve into a three-ring circus in which the U.S. and its defenders are in the dock — the decision to export the Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, where they can hear the same pearls of wisdom that inspired Hasan, would be tops on the list of “most outrageous things” the Obama team has done recently. But there is always plenty of competition for that distinction.

Rep. Frank Wolf has sent a letter to the Justice Department and issued a press release questioning the release of Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, especially “in light of the recent tragedy at Fort Hood where the alleged shooter reportedly has ties to a radical cleric now living in Yemen.” Yes, that is correct. Wolf’s press release explains:

“The American people have a right to know who these detainees are and what acts of terror they were engaged in,” Wolf wrote. “If the public had this information, they would never tolerate the release of these men back to unstable countries with a sizeable al Qaeda presence.” …

“If the administration does not halt these pending releases immediately, it could be responsible for creating a new revolving door of terrorism that will cost American lives,” Wolf wrote today. “The security of the American people could be at risk because of the administration’s relentless pursuit of a campaign promise to close Guantanamo Bay by January 22, 2010.”

“Why has the administration made basic information about these dangerous detainees so highly classified that it cannot be shared with the American people or the media?” Wolf asked. “I have reviewed the materials. These are dangerous individuals. To release committed al Qaeda terrorists back to Yemen under these conditions would be an act of gross malfeasance that undermines the safety of the American people.”

In his statement, Wolf also raised the red flag about Anwar al-Aulaqi, “the radical cleric now living in Yemen who has ties to Fort Hood gunman Major Nidal M. Hasan and also mentored two of the 9/11 hijackers.” Wolf does not subscribe to the view that Hasan was simply suffering from post-traumatic stress:

“As the facts surrounding the Fort Hood attack have emerged, it is becoming clear that anyone who is cited in the 9/11 Commission Report — as al-Aulaqi was on page 221 — as a ‘significant’ contact for 9/11 terrorists Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar should be considered a ‘significant’ connection to Hasan,” Wolf wrote. “Al-Aulaqi has subsequently praised Hasan’s attack stating on his Web site: ‘Nidal Hassan is a hero. … Nidal opened fire on soldiers who were on their way to be deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. How can there be any dispute about the virtue of what he has done? In fact the only way a Muslim could Islamically justify serving as a soldier in the US army is if his intention is to follow the footsteps of men like Nidal,’’’ according to a translation.

Really, if not for the appalling decision to move 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to the U.S. for a trial — that will soon devolve into a three-ring circus in which the U.S. and its defenders are in the dock — the decision to export the Guantanamo detainees to Yemen, where they can hear the same pearls of wisdom that inspired Hasan, would be tops on the list of “most outrageous things” the Obama team has done recently. But there is always plenty of competition for that distinction.

Read Less




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