Enemy Expatriation Act to Revoke US Citizenship Without Due Process

I wonder if Hallmark sells "Sorry you've been stripped of your nationality" cards. (Photo from Flickr user anorwood)

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.

zacqary.adam.xeper

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Discussion

  1. Travis McCrea

    Well… I’m fucked.

    1. DannyUfonek

      Well… all Americans are fucked.

  2. manen

    aint it time to officially say that the war on terror is over and that this sort of piece-of-shit legislation doesn’t belong in AMERICA?!?

    ofc, government officials will never ever let us know that the war on terror is over, and they’re just in the starting blocks for the new war: the war on you and me.

  3. Putte

    WTF. Maybe an immgrant could have a citizenship revoked. But I thought that citizenship for people born in a country was absolute. Criminals could be jailed (or executed) but not stripped of their citizenship. It just seems like a trick to selectively deprive certain people of their legal rights and move them into legal limboland. Those ex US citizens would then have no citizenship and no rights whatsoever?

    Such a law after the civil war would have turned the entire South into legal zombies. If and when the US falls down into new civil war (probability 20%) the guys in control could deprive the rebels of their citizenship, or why not remove citizenship (and voting rights) for entire groups of protesters (OWS, etc.)? Or if one of the 50 states declares independence from Washington, the response would be to deprive the inhabitants in that state of their US citizenship – and send in the tanks and barbed wire.

    The disgraced former superpower is deteriorating into a fascist police state quicker than ever.

  4. NingúnOtro

    Seems you ain’t aware of the kind of war that is coming… austerity wars where the effort is beared by the own population… and those who do not contribute must be forced or punished harshly.

    1. Zacqary Adam Green

      These laws open the door to such malice, but for now their drafting is adequately explained by stupidity.

      1. Channing

        Why does do you regard stupidity as more likely than malice?
        If that were generally the case then corrupt politician could hide their mailicious intent by feigning stupidity.
        If you don’t have any clear evidence which of the two the cause is, then it would be more appropriate not to mention it at all.

        1. Zacqary Adam Green

          Hanlon’s razor.

        2. Steven

          “If that were generally the case then corrupt politician could hide their malicious intent by feigning stupidity.”

          That already happens, does the name George W. Bush ring a bell? Or do you honestly believe that a man with degrees from Harvard and Yale who made it to the White House not once, but twice, is (as he’s often depicted) so stupid that he’s not even capable of reading a children’s book?

  5. Rick Falkvinge

    WTF. You just don’t do this in any country aspiring to be a democracy.

  6. steelneck

    I wonder if politicians voting yes for a law like this, could be convicted under it?

  7. pop

    Reactionary politics at its worst. Wikileaks? NDAA. Al-awlaki? This. Piracy? Censorship. *facepalm*

  8. Anon

    Actually, they’re doing people a favour. Cos I’m fucked if I’d want to live there, and if I did, this would be the perfect excuse to GTFO.

  9. Travis McCrea

    Anon, do you think that we can start qualifying for refugee status?

  10. anon

    the more I hear about American legislation during the 21century the more I get convinced that we will have a replay of 1928-1945.

    1. Zacqary Adam Green

      But that would be a Nazi comparison, and apparently all Nazi comparisons are anti-intellectual overreactions.

  11. skysong263

    You’re reading too much into the difference in wording of these passages. No one can be stripped of citizenship without trial == even under this new legislation. The absence of an explicit requirement for trial does not mean that no trial is required.

    Look at the criminal codes of your state. Requirement for trial is not listed in every single provision of the code. It is assumed.

    If anything, the requirement for trial in the treason provision is the weaker provision, because it allows for treason to be established by court martial, when normally a trial in a court would be assumed.

    1. Zacqary Adam Green

      But you forget that the moment you bring “terrorism” into the question, all of that goes out the window. If you’re a “terrorist”, it’s assumed that you’re guilty — not guilty until proven innocent, because you won’t be proven innocent. “Terrorists” don’t get trials. They get indefinitely detained and assassinated.

      Assumptions aren’t good enough anymore.

  12. Frank

    The UK government is already capable of stripping British citizenship from people deemed a threat to the public interest, they don’t even need to be charged with a crime for that to happen.

    The law has been used a few times against political extremists so they can deport them, the US is playing catch up, nothing new.

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