Lieberman’s Weird Citizenship-Stripping Proposal

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When Joe Lieberman mentioned the idea of not mirandizing US citizen terrorism suspects because they should be stripped of citizenship, I thought this was just some nonsense he said on television. The proposal is obviously unworkable for reasons that I hoped his staff would be able to clarify for him. But it seems not:

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) thinks he’s found a work-around on the whole Miranda rights debate for U.S. citizens accused of terrorism: Strip their citizenship and ship them to Guantanamo.

For one thing, citizenship has very little to do with mirandizing suspects. The Miranda warning doesn’t give a person any rights, the point is to warn the person of rights they have in virtue of the constitution in order to ensure that evidence coming from an interrogation will be admitted in court. Consequently, law enforcement generally offers this warning right away so that you can move forward with the investigation. Waiting around for a citizenship test is pointless and counterproductive.

Second, while I suppose there’s a case for saying that convicted terrorists should be stripped of their citizenship this would be part of the punishment that follows a conviction. You can’t have a system where a cop comes up to me and says “you’re a terrorist, therefore you have no citizenship rights, therefore I’m putting you under arrest and you don’t get any due process and now it’s off to jail with you—no rights, no warning.” You would need to arrest the citizen for something, mirandize him, and only then initiate some citizenship-stripping process. It seems to me there’s a case for doing this, but it’s totally irrelevant to the trumped-up Miranda issue.

Lieberman’s precedent for this turns out to be an existing law that says you lose citizenship if you join a foreign military. Interestingly “There is one exception to the existing law: Americans are allowed to serve in the Israel Defense Forces without losing their citizenship.”