Sen. Ted Cruz and other well-know conservatives have now become advocates for stripping suspected Islamic State members of their citizenship. If you feel inclined to side with that position, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why do you fear the future consequences of giving the government more power to conduct surveillance on your fellow Americans, but not the power to strip them of their citizenship?
- Why do you fear the militarization of state and local police forces, but not the ability of the federal government to revoke the citizenship of those accused of being terrorists?
- Why do you fear a federal government that has shown its desire to chip away at the Second Amendment, yet you believe it would judiciously use the power to abort a man’s citizenship?
- Why should the bar for ending a natural born American’s citizenship be lower than the bar used to try him for treason?
The Hill reported on Sen. Tex Cruz’s bill to strip Americans of their citizenship Sept. 5:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is slated to introduce legislation next week that would revoke the U.S. citizenship of anyone fighting or providing support to terrorist groups working to attack the United States.
Cruz said he is filing the Expatriate Terrorist Act in reaction to the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). It would provide another level of protection to prevent foreign fighters from re-entering the United States, he said.
“Americans who choose to go to Syria or Iraq to fight with vicious ISIS terrorists are party to a terrorist organization committing horrific acts of violence, including beheading innocent American journalists who they have captured,” Cruz said in a statement.
“There can be no clearer renunciation of their citizenship in the United States, and we need to do everything we can to preempt any attempt on their part to re-enter our country and carry out further attacks on American civilians.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) gave support to a similar proposal in a Time magazine op-ed Thursday.
When an American is accused of committing a treasonous act, then you try him for treason in a court of law. You don’t set up a system where his citizenship is arbitrarily revoked and then instruct the U.S. military and the intelligence community to find him and drop bombs on his head.
CBS News reported in 2001:
The last person convicted of treason was Tomoya Kawakita, a Japanese-American sentenced to death in 1952 for tormenting American prisoners of war during World War II. Even such a clear-cut case created qualms; President Eisenhower commuted Kawakita’s sentence to life imprisonment.
The difficulties of meeting the tough constitutional standards — two witnesses or a confession in court to “levying war” against the United States — help explain why treason is rarely prosecuted.
No one at Aaron Burr’s 1807 trial doubted that he wanted to make himself emperor of Mexico, and probably part of the United States. It’s just that planning war was not the same as “levying war,” said Chief Justice John Marshall, who acquitted Burr. …
The framers of the Constitution crafted the narrowest definition of treason known until that time because they sought to protect Americans from the blunt instrument that European rulers had used against political enemies.
The CBS piece came out as the United States was trying to figure out what to do with John Walker Lindh. For those who don’t remember, he was part of a 2001 Taliban prison uprising in Afghanistan that killed CIA officer Mike Spann.
Even Lindh wasn’t tried for treason. Instead, he pleaded guilty to one count of supplying services to the Taliban and a lesser criminal charge involving the weapons he was carrying at the time. The “American Taliban” was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his crimes against the United States.
Would you elect a man president who, in his zeal to punish treasonous Americans, engineered tools to be favored by future tyrants?
Sen. Ted Cruz and his supporters are playing with fire. The track record of giving the federal government more power indicates that future generations of innocent Americans will get burned if his plan succeeds.