Ho, hum, another buffoonish would-be Islamic martyr fails to spark anything more than a panic, this time in New York's Times Square. How many times have we seen this newsreel?
There's a new twist, however. Faisal Shahzad wasn't an immigrant overstaying his visa like the 9-11 terrorists, nor an all-American Muslim convert like Jihad Jane and Jamie. He was, instead, a naturalized U.S. citizen - that is, a man born a citizen of Pakistan who not that long ago swore a holy oath of loyalty to the United States, then straightway joined jihad against us.
Even the most loyal world-citizen of the Left has to know that's not cool, and Something Must Be Done, so here comes a proposed new law to revoke the citizenship of Americans, naturalized or otherwise, who aid terrorist groups.
U.S. law identifies seven categories of acts that could result in loss of citizenship. They include serving in the armed forces of a foreign state at war with the United States, renouncing nationality when the United States is at war, and treason. Sponsors said the law needs to be updated to combat terrorism.
The bill would expand the revocation law to anyone who provides material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization, as designated by the secretary of state. It also would apply to anyone who engages in, or supports, hostilities against the U.S. or its allies.
As in current law, the State Department would make a determination that an individual has lost his or her U.S. nationality... "I like the spirit of it," [Nancy] Pelosi told reporters. [emphasis added]
So do we - like the spirit of the idea, that is. Someone who violates their oath of citizenship so quickly and so thoroughly clearly took it under false pretenses - their "U.S. citizenship" is a fraud and a sham which ought to be revoked after due process of law.
There's a far more important principle at issue here, which we've previously discussed relating to illegal immigrants but which applies to terrorists and phony citizens too: Citizenship means something, in both directions. Citizenship grants rights, and imposes responsibilities. You cannot separate the two.
Over the past ten years, our leaders from both parties have fallen prey to a sort of mushy postmodernist "citizen-of-the-world" view of people. Our Constitution guarantees various rights, even to criminals; we've arrested terrorists and imprisoned them in Guantanamo; so, naturally they have the various rights we're familiar with - to counsel, to a trial, and so on. Right?
Wrong! The Guantanamo prisoners are not citizens. They have no allegiance to America, to its Constitution, or to its laws; their whole goal, in fact, is to destroy all those things. What possible logical reason would there be for them to bask in our Constitutional liberties? Even the vilest domestic criminal is still a citizen with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.
That doesn't mean that non-citizens have no rights at all. People who have legally come into the U.S. as tourists, students, or permanent residents may not have sworn loyalty as citizens, but they've at least acknowledged the supremacy of our laws by obeying them on the way in. In return, legal immigrants do share in basic rights of due process that we've chosen to grant them as well as the core inalienable human rights granted them by their Creator.
But they most certainly do not have the full rights of citizens - they can't bear arms, they can't vote, they must under Federal law carry proof of legal residency at all times. Most importantly, We the People can revoke their permission to be here at any time we choose and send them out of the country - we cannot do that to U.S. citizens since we don't practice exiling.
Illegal immigrants have no such link; by their very presence, they show a complete disregard of and contempt for our laws and for our culture. Particularly for those from right next door in Mexico, all too many view themselves as primarily loyal to that country rather than to America where they're living unlawfully. Obviously, foreign terrorists have no loyalty whatsoever to the United States, their whole goal being to wage war on the enemy's side, but illegals aren't much more loyal.
Having forcefully and visibly rejected the responsibilities of citizenship, by what right do either terrorists or illegal immigrants claim the civil and Constitutional rights reserved to citizens alone? None whatsoever.
It would be nice to blame this problem entirely on the globalist Left, but that would be unfair and inaccurate. It was actually George W. Bush's administration that made the first egregious blunder by imprisoning terrorist Yaser Esam Hamdi in a military jail indefinitely without trial.
Why was this wrong? Because, for all his terrorism and treason, Mr. Hamdi was a U.S. citizen.
In fact, the Hamdi case has interesting echoes of Shahzad. Both were American citizens legally but not mentally: Shazad by naturalization via a loyalty oath he immediately broke, and Hamdi by virtue of having been born to foreign parents traveling in the U.S. and then raised in Saudi Arabia. Neither individual was anything that you could consider to be an American in their heart.
Bureaucrats have a hard time judging your heart, however, and do we really want them doing that? The fact remains that Shazad and Hamdi both held genuine United States passports that were legally valid at the time; under our law, they were just as much American citizens as a descendant of the Pilgrims, no more and no less. Our forefathers fought to restrict government power to "disappear" citizens; why should we give up that great gift just because a few evil impostors abuse a citizenship that means nothing more to them than a shield to their evil doings?
The Bush administration refused to grant Hamdi his rights as an American citizen until the Supreme Court forced them to. Governmental abuse of power doesn't get much more abusive than that. To give credit where it's due, the Obama administration quite properly decided to give Shahzad his Miranda warning and the full rights derived from his American citizenship from the git-go.
That's why the proposed citizenship-revoking law is, finally, the right approach. We trifle with the rights of American citizens at our grave peril; those rights are a wall that should never be crossed without thorough legal scrutiny in front of the eyes of the public.
When a citizen has committed treason, though, it's appropriate for a court to have the power under due process of law to strip the villain of the citizenship his actions have demeaned. Until that time, full rights to the citizen; after that time, no civil rights to the illegal foreigner.
Which makes most anti-terrorism efforts a lot easier. The worst feature of panty-bomber Abdul Mutallab's arrest and Mirandizing wasn't that we granted American rights to a terrorist. It was that we granted them to someone who had no right to them: Mutallab was never a U.S. citizen, nor at the time he committed his crimes had he legally entered the United States. America had every legal and rational right to whisk him off to Guantanamo for a long and thorough interrogation; to the extent that we didn't, we lost a chance to glean potentially useful intelligence.
At least we're finally asking the right questions, and not before time. Citizenship of the United States is an incredibly valuable thing in a way that citizens of the world just don't understand; it's time we restore and defend that value by making clear the difference between having citizenship and not having citizenship.
For citizens and legal residents, full Constitutional rights with lawyers, courts, and all the pomp and procedure that comes with "rule of law"; for illegals and foreign terrorists, a fast ride to the border or Guantanamo as appropriate.
What's hard to understand about that? Assuming she was quoted accurately, even Nancy Pelosi seems to get it.