Citizens, Traitors, and Terrorists

Yes, traitors and terrorists should be stripped of US citizenship.

Ho, hum, another buffoonish would-be Islamic martyr fails to spark anything more than a panic, this time in New York's Times Square.  How many times have we seen this newsreel?

There's a new twist, however.  Faisal Shahzad wasn't an immigrant overstaying his visa like the 9-11 terrorists, nor an all-American Muslim convert like Jihad Jane and Jamie.  He was, instead, a naturalized U.S. citizen - that is, a man born a citizen of Pakistan who not that long ago swore a holy oath of loyalty to the United States, then straightway joined jihad against us.

Even the most loyal world-citizen of the Left has to know that's not cool, and Something Must Be Done, so here comes a proposed new law to revoke the citizenship of Americans, naturalized or otherwise, who aid terrorist groups.

U.S. law identifies seven categories of acts that could result in loss of citizenship. They include serving in the armed forces of a foreign state at war with the United States, renouncing nationality when the United States is at war, and treason. Sponsors said the law needs to be updated to combat terrorism.

The bill would expand the revocation law to anyone who provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the secretary of state. It also would apply to anyone who engages in, or supports, hostilities against the U.S. or its allies.

As in current law, the State Department would make a determination that an individual has lost his or her U.S. nationality... "I like the spirit of it," [Nancy] Pelosi told reporters.  [emphasis added]

So do we - like the spirit of the idea, that is.  Someone who violates their oath of citizenship so quickly and so thoroughly clearly took it under false pretenses - their "U.S. citizenship" is a fraud and a sham which ought to be revoked after due process of law.

There's a far more important principle at issue here, which we've previously discussed relating to illegal immigrants but which applies to terrorists and phony citizens too: Citizenship means something, in both directions.  Citizenship grants rights, and imposes responsibilities.  You cannot separate the two.

Citizen?  Or Not?  It Really Matters

Over the past ten years, our leaders from both parties have fallen prey to a sort of mushy postmodernist "citizen-of-the-world" view of people.  Our Constitution guarantees various rights, even to criminals; we've arrested terrorists and imprisoned them in Guantanamo; so, naturally they have the various rights we're familiar with - to counsel, to a trial, and so on.  Right?

Wrong!  The Guantanamo prisoners are not citizens.  They have no allegiance to America, to its Constitution, or to its laws; their whole goal, in fact, is to destroy all those things.  What possible logical reason would there be for them to bask in our Constitutional liberties?  Even the vilest domestic criminal is still a citizen with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

That doesn't mean that non-citizens have no rights at all.  People who have legally come into the U.S. as tourists, students, or permanent residents may not have sworn loyalty as citizens, but they've at least acknowledged the supremacy of our laws by obeying them on the way in.  In return, legal immigrants do share in basic rights of due process that we've chosen to grant them as well as the core inalienable human rights granted them by their Creator.

But they most certainly do not have the full rights of citizens - they can't bear arms, they can't vote, they must under Federal law carry proof of legal residency at all times.  Most importantly, We the People can revoke their permission to be here at any time we choose and send them out of the country - we cannot do that to U.S. citizens since we don't practice exiling.

Illegal immigrants have no such link; by their very presence, they show a complete disregard of and contempt for our laws and for our culture.  Particularly for those from right next door in Mexico, all too many view themselves as primarily loyal to that country rather than to America where they're living unlawfully.  Obviously, foreign terrorists have no loyalty whatsoever to the United States, their whole goal being to wage war on the enemy's side, but illegals aren't much more loyal.

Having forcefully and visibly rejected the responsibilities of citizenship, by what right do either terrorists or illegal immigrants claim the civil and Constitutional rights reserved to citizens alone?  None whatsoever.

It would be nice to blame this problem entirely on the globalist Left, but that would be unfair and inaccurate.  It was actually George W. Bush's administration that made the first egregious blunder by imprisoning terrorist Yaser Esam Hamdi in a military jail indefinitely without trial.

Why was this wrong?  Because, for all his terrorism and treason, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen.

In fact, the Hamdi case has interesting echoes of Shahzad.  Both were American citizens legally but not mentally: Shazad by naturalization via a loyalty oath he immediately broke, and Hamdi by virtue of having been born to foreign parents traveling in the U.S. and then raised in Saudi Arabia.  Neither individual was anything that you could consider to be an American in their heart.

Bureaucrats have a hard time judging your heart, however, and do we really want them doing that?  The fact remains that Shazad and Hamdi both held genuine United States passports that were legally valid at the time; under our law, they were just as much American citizens as a descendant of the Pilgrims, no more and no less.  Our forefathers fought to restrict government power to "disappear" citizens; why should we give up that great gift just because a few evil impostors abuse a citizenship that means nothing more to them than a shield to their evil doings?

The Bush administration refused to grant Hamdi his rights as an American citizen until the Supreme Court forced them to.  Governmental abuse of power doesn't get much more abusive than that.  To give credit where it's due, the Obama administration quite properly decided to give Shahzad his Miranda warning and the full rights derived from his American citizenship from the git-go.

First Things First

That's why the proposed citizenship-revoking law is, finally, the right approach.  We trifle with the rights of American citizens at our grave peril; those rights are a wall that should never be crossed without thorough legal scrutiny in front of the eyes of the public.

When a citizen has committed treason, though, it's appropriate for a court to have the power under due process of law to strip the villain of the citizenship his actions have demeaned.  Until that time, full rights to the citizen; after that time, no civil rights to the illegal foreigner.

Which makes most anti-terrorism efforts a lot easier.  The worst feature of panty-bomber Abdul Mutallab's arrest and Mirandizing wasn't that we granted American rights to a terrorist.  It was that we granted them to someone who had no right to them: Mutallab was never a U.S. citizen, nor at the time he committed his crimes had he legally entered the United States.  America had every legal and rational right to whisk him off to Guantanamo for a long and thorough interrogation; to the extent that we didn't, we lost a chance to glean potentially useful intelligence.

At least we're finally asking the right questions, and not before time.  Citizenship of the United States is an incredibly valuable thing in a way that citizens of the world just don't understand; it's time we restore and defend that value by making clear the difference between having citizenship and not having citizenship.

For citizens and legal residents, full Constitutional rights with lawyers, courts, and all the pomp and procedure that comes with "rule of law"; for illegals and foreign terrorists, a fast ride to the border or Guantanamo as appropriate.

What's hard to understand about that?  Assuming she was quoted accurately, even Nancy Pelosi seems to get it.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Immigration.
Reader Comments
Great article. I absolutely agree - citizenship should be revoked for a handful of crimes.

Interesting question surfaces from this... What do you DO with a person after you've revoked their citizenship? They are, immediately after the revocation, an illegal alien. And if they are not a citizen of another country, where do 'deport' them too?

For instance, say you have a regular Plain Jane American citizen, born and raise in the US her whole life. Then, she decides to become a terrorist and commits acts of treason. Her citizenship is revoked. Where does she go?

My solution would be to have an agreement with other nations on a common dumping ground for 'people without a country'. A large expanse of desert would do. The nation that controls the desert would either be paid by everyone else or the desert would become a DMZ that is not part of any sovereign nation. When people are stripped of their citizenship, such that they no longer have a country, you fly them over the desert area, hook a chute on them and kick them out the door. What they do and how they survive is up to them. You are, essentially, relocating them outside of every nation in the world and it is up to them to barter/negogiate/trade their way back into one.
May 12, 2010 8:31 AM
Historically, there weren't many situations where someone with revoked citizenship would have literally nowhere to go. The most common way for an American to lose his citizenship, was to be fighting in another country's armed forces (or the forces of a rebel group), in which case they'd at least have a home base if not a new home country. With bogus naturalizations like Shahzad or the amnesty-recipients of the 80s who forged documents to meet the official requirements, we'd logically send them back to their previous homeland.

Jihad Jane and Jamie are the only example I can think of of what you're describing, a pure "stateless person." These would be few and far between, and I'd think Guantanamo Bay would have sufficient room to keep them until their deaths. I doubt there would ever be a large enough number of such for your desert suggestion to be worthwhile - though I have to admit, it has a certain appeal. Might I suggest one of these instead:
May 12, 2010 8:52 AM
that Gitmo residents are not citizens is irrelevant if they have committed no crime.. and neither is being a civilised country with laws regarding law enforcement top be taken lightly when thugs like the Bush/Cheney administration arbitrarily lock people up w/o even charges being proffered... we are no more enlightened than the Soviets or a theocratic cult w2hen we advocate such immoral and unprofitable manners...
an literally the Constitution, especially the 4th 5th & 6th amendments apply to any person charged with a crime, except.. whoops~! Bush Cheney cannot even get that part right.. which is why I consider them thugs, and their irresponsible behavior gave us Obama, who sees no reason to alter their dictatorial and tyrannical procedure..
we are no longer a nation of laws, but idiocy and arrogance compounded with disrespect for the citizens who are in this country legally who despise this federal autocracy
May 12, 2010 1:57 PM
Sorry, irvnx, but you've swallowed the liberal-lefty citizen-of-the-world bait hook, line, and sinker. Please go read the linked articles, particularly "Illegal Aliens' Constitutional Rights?" and "The Wrongs of Rights" series in order to understand the facts of the matter historically, logically, and legally.
May 12, 2010 3:11 PM
it seems your justifications, rationalisatons and apologies for tyranny only beg the question as to for whom you are working...
I have swallowed nothing, not even the arrogance and insults such spewing from those who seek domination under the law, not equality bnefore it..
if these ppl are guilty of something, do not be afraid to prove in open court in front of us citizens; secret trials are for those who something to hide, and it appears there may be plenty for which to deny, even be ashamed: democracy and a free society are not for the timid or faint of heart, nor for fools who would use fear to intimidate. It is bad enough the feds tax us, start immoral wars and otherwise plunder our wealth; must they add insult to injury by initiating force upon those who cannot be proven guilty of any crime?
today it is "enemy combatants" and suspected [& not even accused~!] terrorists.. tomorrow it could be you and me for even stating these treasonous views.
May 12, 2010 4:49 PM
irvnx: A brief history lesson.

Stalin: Killed millions. Communist.
Mao: Killed millions. Communist.
Hitler: Killed millions. Socialst.

Your fear is misplaced if you think the "right" is going to be tyrannical. The worst examples today, and in history, are all from the left.

Can you also show some specific examples where the writers at Scragged have condoned tyranny?
May 12, 2010 11:42 PM
by using even slightest (and not so~!) tinge of subjective morality.. the least benign of which is claiming to be fiscal conservatives, or advocating [not-so] limited government, the stage is set for the overwhelming complelxity for contradictions.. locking people up w/o even charging them with a crime is wrong per se, and the framers of the Constitution understood that, like Stalin, Hitler, Mao, that governments are the greatest evil(and criminals) ever, and that their powers must be constrained.
Hey.. I did not write these laws; people with a greater understanding of the evil inherent in institutions did so, and it is a lesson we clearly have failed to learn, else this would not be still an item for discussion.
The Right is wrong in more ways than one, but the worse is its failure to be consistent, logical, and concise, and its lack of steadfastness and contradictory confusion has mislead many Americans.
We know many Democrats are closet socialists; when the Bush/Cheney approach disregards fiscal constraint, intervenes in our personal and business affairs, and starts wars and other attacks on those of us who create wealth, jobs, innovation and fulfilling dreams without coercion, intimidation or threats then something is horribly wrong.. and that ain't right.
May 13, 2010 8:19 AM
Did you even read the article, irvnx? You have repeatedly complained about Scragged's supposed "loyalty" to George W. Bush, despite our repeated criticisms of him. I must confess I had you in mind when I included this paragraph:

"It would be nice to blame this problem entirely on the globalist Left, but that would be unfair and inaccurate. It was actually George W. Bush's administration that made the first egregious blunder by imprisoning terrorist Yaser Esam Hamdi in a military jail indefinitely without trial. Why was this wrong? Because, for all his terrorism and treason, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen."

So, no more accusations of Scragged as being Bush partisans, if you have any intellectual honesty.

It sounds like you aren't too keen on the Democrats either. May I inquire as to who or what you are in favor of? In a perfect world, who would you anoint President?
May 13, 2010 8:42 AM
Finally someone who writes and understands that citizens have rights no matter who's in office whether we like it or not. Conversely people who are not citizens don't. Also whether you like it or not. Stupid facts. As to someone attacking this country as this rather incompentant jihadist did while a citizen is covered very nicely by current law and precedent. Timothy McVeigh the not so incompentant terrorist learned that treason is punishable by death. Hopefully this and any other citizen of this nation who decides to attack it learns the same lesson. Once again just the facts. Treason is punishable by death. If someone who attacks this country is afforded the rights of a citizen then of course give them the punishment that comes with those rights. Death.
May 14, 2010 9:52 PM
not too bad sweeeper.. why should we taxpayers endure the arrogance of those who refuse to give the suspects a trial? what's the harm? that is the American way, and certainly not the way of those who advocate a petty dictatorship motivated by fear, fraud, and of course lack of evidence- if they are guilty, prove it~! anything else is de facto terrorism... by those claiming to fight it, yet using it as a weapon to intimidate and silence us

May 14, 2010 11:40 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...