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How Secure is Your Citizenship?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

For two days now, I've been researching the possibility that the United States Government is maneuvering itself into a position that it can declare a United States citizen as an enemy combatant as defined under the Detention, Treatment, and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism signed by President Bush on November 13, 2001. If you scroll down to Section 2, Definition and Policy, you'll find:
a)  The term "individual subject to this order" shall mean any individual who is not a United States citizen with respect to whom I determine from time to time in writing that:
(1)  there is reason to believe that such individual, at the relevant times,
(i) is or was a member of the organization known as al Qaida;
(ii) has engaged in, aided or abetted, or conspired to commit, acts of international terrorism, or acts in preparation therefor, that have caused, threaten to cause, or have as their aim to cause, injury to or adverse effects on the United States, its citizens, national security, foreign policy, or economy; or
(iii) has knowingly harbored one or more individuals described in subparagraphs (i) or (ii) of subsection 2(a)(1) of this order; and
(2)  it is in the interest of the United States that such individual be subject to this order.
The above hinges on the clunky language, "any individual who is not a United States citizen with respect to whom I determine from time to time..." To me, that seems to say that the President has the authority to look at an individual and any relevant evidence associated with that individual to make a determination of citizenship. In other words, the President is saying that he can--at will--revoke your citizenship. This is the point that I went searching for the smoking gun. I didn't exactly find it, but I did find some shell casings. Here are two such clues for you to ponder while the search continues.
The Department of Justice requested that a Survey of the Law of Expatriation be made. It was completed by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Yoo. In his findings, he states:
In summary, both the Third Circuit and the district court in Schiffer (which the Third Circuit affirmed without opinion) have determined that the act of serving in a foreign armed force engaged in hostilities against the United States may itself manifest a specific intention to relinquish U.S. citizenship.
I read that to mean that any act of aggression towards the United States could be evidence used to show your intent to relinquish citizenship. So what? Well, if the Justice Department can show prima facie evidence that your intent was to discard your citizenship, you could then be reclassified as an enemy combatant. Thus begins your life as persona non grata.
The next clue is taken from the U.S. Department of State's website informing travelers of what the United States considers lawful methods of relinquishing their U.S. citizenship. The portion that I'm interested in is as follows:
The premise that a person intends to retain U.S. citizenship is not applicable when the individual:
(1) formally renounces U.S. citizenship before a consular officer;
(2) takes a policy level position in a foreign state;
(3) is convicted of treason; or
(4) performs an act made potentially expatriating by statute accompanied by conduct which is so inconsistent with retention of U.S. citizenship that it compels a conclusion that the individual intended to relinquish U.S. citizenship. (Such cases are very rare.)
Cases in categories 2, 3, and 4 will be developed carefully by U.S. consular officers to ascertain the individual's intent toward U.S. citizenship.
What this says is that the state would normal assume that U.S. citizens always act in such a way as to retain their citizenship. It is only under the above circumstances that this assumption would not exist. Take special note of the fourth example. I believe this is the loophole that allows the President to make his determination of your citizenship.
I'll continue my search, but I did want to pass on one last item for you to consider. In my searching, I ran across the following quote a number of times. It addresses an section found in the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 (a.k.a. The Patriot Act II). I'm really not sure what happened to this act. It may be sitting on some shelf waiting for "another Pearl Harbor" type event or it may have been relabeled and quietly passed into law. The following is an example of an alert of potential abuse posted repeatedly all over the web that speaks right to the subject of this post:
SECTION 501 (Expatriation of Terrorists) expands the Bush administration's "enemy combatant" definition to all American citizens who "may" have violated any provision of Section 802 of the first Patriot Act. (Section 802 is the new definition of domestic terrorism, and the definition is "any action that endangers human life that is a violation of any Federal or State law.") Section 501 of the second Patriot Act directly connects to Section 125 of the same act. The Justice Department boldly claims that the incredibly broad Section 802 of the First USA Patriot Act isn't broad enough and that a new, unlimited definition of terrorism is needed.
Under Section 501 a US citizen engaging in lawful activities can be grabbed off the street and thrown into a van never to be seen again. The Justice Department states that they can do this because the person "had inferred from conduct" that they were not a US citizen. Remember Section 802 of the First USA Patriot Act states that any violation of Federal or State law can result in the "enemy combatant" terrorist designation.
In closing, I can not at this time prove without a doubt that a U.S. citizen could have his citizenship revoked at will, but I think the groundwork has been laid for it at some future time.


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