Oh boy, another police state bill enters the US Congress! The Enemy Expatriation Act will allow citizens to be stripped of their nationality for “supporting hostilities” against the US. Conviction, of course, wouldn’t be necessary.
The Enemy Expatriation Act is a short amendment to USC 8 §1481, the law which spells out criteria for the revocation of US citizenship. Already listed are naturalization in or serving in the armed forces of another country, formally renouncing US citizenship, or being convicted of treason against the US. These are, arguably, perfectly understandable. But the EEA adds this new reason to revoke citizenship:
[E]ngaging in, or purposefully and materially supporting, hostilities against the United States.…For purposes of this section, the term ‘hostilities’ means any conflict subject to the laws of war.
One would think that would constitute treason, and thus such a section wouldn’t be necessary. But look at paragraph 7 of §1481, which describes treason:
(7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction. [Emphasis mine]
There’s your problem. Under the current law, one has to be convicted of treason in order to be stripped of citizenship. This new section, added by the EEA, requires no such thing.
Now, the premise of the bill on its own gives me pause: does giving five bucks to Wikileaks count as “materially supporting hostilities”, or is that not a “conflict subject to the laws of war” yet? That’s ambiguous, though; the complete lack of a due process requirement — in contrast to the already-existing section regarding treason — is something else entirely.
The possibility of having one’s citizenship revoked without a trial is bad enough, but in concert with the recently-passed 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, it’s terrifying. The latest NDAA, of course, requires anyone accused of “terrorism” to be indefinitely detained by the executive branch of the government. In response to public outrage, an amendment was added which made US citizens exempt to this requirement (which doesn’t make them exempt to the possibility, but in practice, perhaps the law will be enforced in such a way). If, under the EEA, someone is stripped of their citizenship without a trial, then there is no longer any semantic ambiguity to keep them safe from the NDAA’s indefinite detention.
There seems to be an accelerating trend of dangerously broad-worded bills being proposed in the US Congress: the 2012 NDAA, SOPA/PIPA, and now this. Legislators are playing fast and loose with their constituents’ civil liberties, seemingly oblivious to the consequences. This is not a deliberate power-grab by a government gearing up to repress its population; this is gross negligence on the part of elected officials. It is not okay to accidentally endanger the people’s rights and liberties. The supporters of this absurd bill cannot be trusted with power.