July 20, 2010
Mr. William Scanlon
89 Sherman Road
Woodstock, CT 06281-1907
Dear Mr. Scanlon:
Thank you for your letter in opposition to the Terrorist Expatriation Act (S. 3327), which I introduced May 6, 2010. While I understand you have reservations about the legislation, I would like to take this opportunity to give you my reasons for introducing the measure, which is aimed at keeping U.S. citizens safe from the harm of terrorism.
First and foremost, I want to assure all Americans that S. 3327 would not tread on their civil liberties in any way. The measure's sole purpose would be to further protect them and provide an additional tool for our law enforcement officers to help prevent terrorist attempts, such as the attempted bombing by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, in New York City's Time Square.
The Terrorist Expatriation Act would update a law which has been on the books since 1940. Title 8 United States Code Section 1481 states seven clear grounds for which American citizens can lose their citizenship. Two of these reasons are: 'entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state' and 'committing any act of treason against the United States.' The Terrorist Expatriation Act would update the law by adding an eighth category of acts: providing material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization or actively engaging in hostilities against the United States or its allies.
The proposed legislation would fully protect individuals' due process rights. First, the bill is not retroactive in any way. Additionally, the legislation requires proof that individuals have committed the forbidden acts and preserves the existing law's considerable safeguards to protect individuals' due process rights. Before an American's citizenship can be removed, the U.S. Department of State must make a determination that the person has joined a terrorist organization with the intent of giving up his or her American citizenship. That is a clear and high standard, and its determination can be challenged in U.S. federal courts.
The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of this statutory framework in a 1980 decision and provided further support for the premise of this legislation in a recent decision. In upholding the constitutionality of a law that makes it a federal crime to support foreign terrorist organizations, the Supreme Court explained "that the Government's interest in combating terrorism is an urgent objective of the highest order." I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment. I also agree with the Supreme Court's description of foreign terrorist organizations as "deadly groups" and with the Court's conclusion that working with them or at their command "serves to legitimize and further their terrorist means," helping them to "facilitate more terrorist attacks."
The Terrorist Expatriation Act will enhance the ability of our military, intelligence community, and law enforcement agents to prevent Americans who take up arms against our country with Al Qaeda, its affiliates, and other foreign terrorist organizations from hiding behind the benefits conferred by U.S. citizenship to avoid detection and responsibility for their actions. I am particularly hopeful that this bill will provide a valuable tool to blunt the emerging and disturbing trend of terrorists radicalizing and recruiting young Americans. By improving our ability to surveil, apprehend, prevent attacks by, and prosecute Americans who join foreign terrorist organizations, my cosponsors and I hope to provide an effective counter-measure to terrorist groups' latest tactic. Americans will become a less attractive target for recruitment by terrorist groups if we find a way to diminish the strategic value of their citizenship as a terrorist weapon.
S. 3327 has been referred to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. To keep track of further developments on this legislation, you can click on the "Track a Bill" button at http://lieberman.senate.gov/.
Joseph I. Lieberman
UNITED STATES SENATOR
Dear Senator Lieberman
Thank you very much for your letter. But I still have concerns. I am a professional trainer of police and military officers in the Middle East. In my travels I have met 4 Americans serving in the armed forces in the Philippines (1) and in the State of Israel(3). All have stated that they are doing their sworn duties to the country of their ancestors or their religion. Yet , your bill targets only a specific population, Muslims. That's what we call profiling.
Your bill so states; "Two of these reasons are: 'entering, or serving in, the armed forces of a foreign state' and 'committing any act of treason against the United States".'
One of the aforementioned people who is from Texas and is currently serving in Israel shot another American on the Gaza flotilla. It was documented by Al Jazeera. That was a terrorist act by the State of Israel on a group of unarmed civilians delivering humanitarian aid and it has been condemned internationally. Other Americans serving in the Israeli Armed forces have been involved in horrific incidents of the torture of young boys and girls in Gaza. An American teacher I worked with in Saudi Arabia of Palestinian heritage was detained and questioned by a member of the Israeli Armed forces who identified himself as an American from New York, at the border with Jordan. He went to visit his mother who lives in Ramallah. Ismail said this young blond haired American in an Israeli uniform said;"You don't belong here". My friend responded;"Neither do you!"
Yet nothing in your bill addresses those issues. Those are also terrorist acts . A terrorist act is defined as by the United Nations, "Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them." The acts against the people of Palistine and Gaaza,regardless of who their government is, is an act of terror. Rachel Corrie a young American activist was killed by the Israeli military, yet we never heard you yelling for an investigation into her death. But we here hear about you when the act is commited by someone of Muslim heritage.
The people Imentioned currently in the Armed Forces of Israel hold both Israeli and American citizenship. Your bill does not address that issue either. I work in education in the Middle East and many of us Americans there feel your Bill will do nothing to heal the growing rift between America and the Muslim world, because it is very one-sided ethnic profiling. I remember the days when you were the Attorney General for CT. And I came to visit your office and our mutual friend, Jim Kennedy who worked for you. I admired you then Senator because of your sense of the fair and equal application of the law. The events of 9/11 changed the landscape of America forever, however I sincerely hope and pray that the landscape of our Constitution of equal rights under the law for all will never change. President Obama was correct when he said "America is not a Christian nation, it's a Muslim nation, a Jewish nation, Hindu nation , a Buddhist nation.".
William A. Scanlon
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