Republican Representative Charles Dent of Pennsylvania has a radical plan to strip Americans of their citizenship.
I’m not exaggerating. H.R. 5166 is rather dramatically titled the Revoking Citizenship for Terrorists Act. That’s an indication right there you should be concerned. Any time a bill before the Congress talks about loving America or getting the terrorists, you can bet something unsavory is headed for your gullet. Read the bill with an eye for detail and you’ll see what I mean:
To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to provide for the loss of United States citizenship by individuals who are unprivileged enemy belligerents.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Revoking Citizenship for Terrorists Act of 2010′.
SEC. 2. LOSS OF NATIONALITY BY UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENTS.
Section 349(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1481(a)) is amended–
(1) in paragraphs (1) through (6), by striking `or’ at the end;
(2) in paragraph (7), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; or'; and
(3) by adding at the end the following:
`(8) being an unprivileged enemy belligerent (as such term is defined in section 948a(7) of title 10, United States Code).’.
Section 349(a) is pretty clear: it describes sets of people who are to lose their citizenship. Once you get past the title, you can see that the people who are going to have their American citizenship revoked are not people who have been proven in a court of law to be “terrorists”: instead, they are a new entity called an “unprivileged enemy belligerent.” If you want to understand this bill, you have to understand what exactly an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” is and how a person becomes one.
Try to look up “unprivileged enemy belligerent” in the Congress’ or even the GPO’s own copy of the United States Code and you won’t find the term in section 948a(7) as Charles Dent’s bill says you will. You have to, as this document from the Republican Policy Committee explains, look to last year’s S. 1390, a military authorization bill (which passed and was signed into law). In that bill, this is how “unprivileged enemy belligerent” is defined:
(7) UNPRIVILEGED ENEMY BELLIGERENT- The term `unprivileged enemy belligerent’ means an individual (other than a privileged belligerent) who–
`(A) has engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners;
`(B) has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or
`(C) is a member of al Qaeda.
Note the or. People have met the government’s standard for option (B) because they gave money to the wrong charity. I’m not kidding.
And who decides that these characterizations are true? A court of law, in a trial? No. The charges never have to be proved. Since the original passage of the Military Commissions Act (which S. 1390 amended and H.R. 5166 would amend), designations have been made by a panel empowered by either the President or Secretary of Defense (see also Defense Department 2010 Military Commissions Manual, page 91) . This isn’t a trial; it’s an administrative procedure. Once that determination is made — poof! — a person becomes an “unprivileged enemy belligerent.” You are one because the government says you are.
Charles Dent’s bill adds the final cherry on top. If H.R. 5166 passes, an American citizen who is determined by the panel of the Obama Administration to be an “unprivileged enemy belligerent” will lose their citizenship. That has consequences. In the section dealing with “unprivileged enemy belligerents,” S. 1390 defines the term “alien”:
In this chapter:
`(1) ALIEN- The term `alien’ means an individual who is not a citizen of the United States.
Under S. 1390, an alien unprivileged enemy combatant loses the “Miranda right” to be told what his or her rights are, loses the constitutional right to trial by jury, loses the constitutional right to refrain from self-incrimination during interrogation, will be tried for crimes by military commission, and is not to be treated according to the provisions of the Geneva Conventions.
If Charles Dent’s bill passes, then the Obama administration will be able to administratively declare an American citizen to be an unlawful enemy belligerent without proof to a court, will strip that person of the protections of citizenship, will deny them even the right to be told what rights they have, and will be punted into the netherworld of indefinite detention without trial.
Is Charles Dent’s vision for America your vision for America?