Washington, May 8 (IANS) Americans like Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani origin suspect in the failed Times Square bombing, who help terrorists could have their citizenship revoked under a bill introduced this week in Congress.
The proposed Terrorist Expatriation Act would authorise the State Department to revoke citizenship of anyone who supports Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups or who helps in attacks against the US or its allies.
Identical bills were introduced this week in the House and Senate.
‘We’re fighting an enemy who doesn’t wear the uniform of a conventional army or follow the law of war,’ said Senator Joseph Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, who co-sponsored the Senate bill with Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts.
‘Those who join such groups join our enemy and should be deprived of the rights and privileges of US citizenship and the ability to use their American passports as tools of terror.’
The bill would expand a 1940 federal law that authorises the State Department to strip Americans of their citizenship.
Under the 1940 law, Americans could lose citizenship for serving in the military of a country at war with the US, for treason or for voting in another nation’s elections.
However, they can contest their loss of citizenship in court.
The Supreme Court narrowed the authority of the 1940 law by ruling Americans could lose citizenship only if they renounce it.
The 1967 ruling involved the case of a naturalised American born in Poland who voted in an Israeli election. The State Department took away his citizenship but he won it back in the Supreme Court.
The proposed act is likely to face a legal challenge if Congress approves it. Civil rights activists have warned of possible conflicts with the constitution’s right of equal protection for American citizens.
From the Obama administration, only Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has so far promised to ‘take a hard look’ at the proposed legislation.
‘Clearly, US citizenship is a privilege. It is not a right… And people who are serving foreign powers – or in this case, foreign terrorists – are clearly in violation, in my personal opinion, of that oath which they swore when they became citizens,’ she said during a press conference. ‘So we’re going to take a hard look at this.’