Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) on Thursday introduced the controversial American Expatriation Act that would strip Americans of their citizenship if they associate with foreign terrorists or terrorist groups.
Lieberman said during a noon-time news conference that he is considering attaching the proposal as an amendment to another Senate bill. Meanwhile, it remains unclear how the bill might fare in the House, where Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire (D) and Charlie Dent (R) are sponsoring companion legislation. Lieberman’s proposal comes on the heels of the botched terrorist attack in Times Square this weekend.
“This bill only updates an existing statute that has been on the books for 70 years to account for the terrorist enemy that we are fighting today,” Lieberman told reporters, while flanked by Brown, Altmire and Dent. “Some people have asked whether we are introducing this bill in response to the arrest of Faisal Shahzad for the attempted terrorist attack in Times Square last weekend. The answer is yes’ in a general sense because it illustrates again the problem that has been recurring of American citizens becoming part of terrorist organizations.”
Shahzad, the main suspect in the Times Square incident, is an American Muslim of Pakistani decent who became a naturalized citizen last year.
“As you see we have homegrown terrorists among us,” said the newly elected Brown, an emerging Republican voice on national security issues. “This new enemy doesn’t wear a military uniform. They’re nonstate actors determined to bring a radical brand of terrorism to our homeland.”
The proposal would build on a World War II-era law that enables the government to strip the citizenship of any American fighting for an organized military of an enemy of the United States. Lieberman made clear that even if the measure quickly becomes law, it could not apply to Shahzad, given he was arrested prior to its passage.
Altmire said the legislation has been carefully worded to pass constitutional muster. Dent proposed a similar bill last year.