Read 'Em Their Rights: Debate Rages Over Terror and Citizenship

Controversial law would deny American citizens Miranda rights

By Michael Preston
|  Thursday, May 6, 2010  |  Updated 7:15 AM EDT
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Obama's Littlest Constituents

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Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn, wants to strip terror suspects of their citizenship.

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Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, in the wake of the arrest of Times Square bomber and naturalized U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad, is preparing legislation to strip citizenship rights of Americans suspected of joining terrorist groups. The proposed bill spurred a diverse set of reactions from pundits:

  • Conservative Fox News pundit Glenn Beck backs the decision to Mirandize Shahzad. “He is a citizen of the United States, so I say we uphold the laws and the Constitution on citizens," Beck said on "Fox and Friends." "If you are a citizen, you obey the law and follow the Constitution. [Shahzad] has all the rights under the Constitution. We don't shred the Constitution when it is popular. We do the right thing.”
     
  • The Wall Street Journal editorial board questions the decision to ferry Shahzad through the regular justice system. “One regrettable part of this investigation so far is Shahzad's arraignment in a Manhattan court room yesterday on terrorism charges," they write. "This means he has been allowed to lawyer-up and told of his right to remain silent, rather than being subjected to more thorough interrogation as an enemy combatant.”
     
  • Ta-Nehisi Coates of the Atlantic argues that emotions are clouding the picture. “We're now at the point where people are saying U.S. citizens shouldn't be read their Miranda rights. It just feels like a cry for vengeance,” he writes. “I get the sense that very few of these people have ever been on the other side of law enforcement. It's like they think the cops arrest you, and then promptly whisk you away to a country club, where you are served coq au vin, pecan pie and coffee. It's silly.”
     
  • Steve Benen of the left-leaning Washington Monthly ponders the mechanics of the law. “I'm at a loss as to understand how this could possibly work. If an American citizen is accused of terrorist associations, he/she would lose citizenship status before a conviction? In Lieberman's vision, the defendant is punished and then gets due process?” he writes. “What if authorities make a mistake and accuse someone who's innocent? Would officials eventually give citizenship back with an ‘Oops, Our Bad’ card? Senator, Yale Law School called. It wants your diploma back.”


 

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