Legal experts, including former State Department Legal Adviser John Bellinger, have already slammed Sen. Joe Lieberman's proposal to strip citizenship from American citizens accused of being involved with a foreign terrorist organization. After expressing initial support, Sen. Chuck Schumer later backed out.
Lieberman hasn't given up on his proposal, however. Hoping to harvest the populist anger of the Tea Parties, Lieberman, who has enlisted Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and Reps. Jason Altmire (D-PA) and Charlie Dent (R-PA) in the House, is calling his proposal the TEA Act, or "Terrorist Expatriation Act."
The Terrorist Expatriation Act would bring existing federal law up to date by adding another item to the list of acts for which a U.S. national would lose his/her nationality: 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.
Lieberman's originally called for stripping citizenship from those who were merely suspected of being part of a terrorist organization, but from the press release, it sounds like the new proposal might apply only to those people who are actually convicted. We'll find out at noon today, when Lieberman holds a press conference announcing the details.
One thing is clear, though; the designation "foreign terrorist organization" wouldn't apply to domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh, which means that the law would, in practice, only ever apply to American Muslims.
-- A. Serwer