UPDATE @ 12:00 ET
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said yesterday that nobody in the White House supports the recently proposed legislation that would strip the citizenship of US citizens connected to International terrorist groups.
The statements however, contradict earlier comments by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The Times reports:
Noting that the State Department already had the authority to rescind the citizenship of people who declare allegiance to a foreign state, [Clinton] said the administration would take “a hard look” at extending those powers to cover terrorism suspects.
“United States citizenship is a privilege,” she said. “It is not a right. 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.”
Secretary of State Hilary Clinton yesterday said that the Obama administration would consider legislation introduced in the House and Senate that would strip American citizens of their citizenship if found to be connected to international terrorist groups. She is the highest level administration official to have come out in support of the legislation.
The proposed law—the Terrorist Expatriation Act—was co-sponsored by Senators Joseph Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, and Scott Brown, Republican of Massachusetts. Identical Legislation was proposed in the House.
Whether or not Clinton’s support for the law means Obama will also back the bills is unclear, but recent news that the president authorized the targeted assassination of a U.S. citizen suggest that he may support such a move.
Democracy Now! reported last month that the Obama released a memo confirming that the Obama Administration added Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim cleric accused having connections to last year’s failed Christmas Day airline bombing, to a list of targets for assassination.
The Times reports today that a U.S. official said that Faisal Shahzad, the man who attempted to detonate a bomb in Time Square last weekend, “was inspired by the violent rhetoric of Mr. Awlaki.”
The policy of targeted assassination is controversial in and of itself though the US uses the war tactic regularly and to devastating effect. For example, the use of Predator Drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, putatively in order to assassinate particular individuals, has resulted in the deaths countless civilians. Now, the inclusion of a US citizen on an official list of targets moves the debate even further into legally and ethically troubled waters.
Six months ago, the FBI shot and killed an Imam in Michigan who was charged with conspiracy to commit federal crimes. A Justice department probe is now investigating whether the imam’s death came as a result of a plan to assassinate him.