What is the point of this?
Lieberman’s office has clarified to me how the law would work: It would empower the State Department to conclude — on its own — that Americans are conspiring with terror groups and should be stripped of their citizenship.
Lieberman’s law would amend an earlier statute that details other things that can cost you citizenship: Serving in the army of a foreign state, pledging allegiance to a foreign state, and so on. In those cases the State Department decides whether your disloyalty merits loss of citizen status. Lieberman’s law would add involvement with a foreign terror organization — as opposed to a foreign state — to this list…
You would still have the right to contest this in court. And if you did, the burden of proof would be on State — not on you — to persuade the court that your involvement with a terror organization is sufficient to justify taking away your citizen status.
The idea, I guess, is to let interrogators question a citizen jihadi without having to Mirandize him first, but how would that work exactly? Does State denaturalize him on a hunch before he’s even arrested, when the cops are still compiling evidence of terror links? Or do they denaturalize him afterwards — in which case, shouldn’t the cops Mirandize him anyway in case State’s denaturalization ruling gets thrown out in court later?
The punchline, per Byron York? If they want to question him without Miranda, there’s already — theoretically — a way to do that.
Administration officials point out that Shahzad is a naturalized American citizen and thus is entitled to the full range of U.S. constitutional rights. That’s not entirely accurate. While being an American citizen means that Shahzad will ultimately be tried in civilian court — the Military Commissions Act applies only to aliens — there is no reason that Shahzad could not be declared an enemy combatant, held indefinitely and questioned at length during that period without Miranda rights. “He couldn’t be prosecuted in military court,” says the aide, “but he could be held for intelligence interrogation purposes.” The aide points out that Yaser Esam Hamdi, who was captured in Afghanistan, was a U.S. citizen, and the Supreme Court ruled that he could be held as an enemy combatant, although he had the right to challenge that designation in court.
That’s purely theoretical on York’s part because The One gave up long ago on the idea of “enemy combatants.” He also gave up, of course, on enhanced interrogation, so the feds aren’t going to be more aggressive with a suspect just because he’s been denaturalized. Which brings me back to the original point: What extra benefit is there from doing this? The only thing I can think of is that it’d make Shahzad eligible for a military tribunal, but why we need to do that when federal court has always been good enough for citizens charged with treason escapes me. (Gadahn is under federal indictment for treason right now, in fact.) Exit question: Overkill?