House Passes Bill That Would Limit Due Process For Accused Terrorists

House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, shows a picture of a $400,000 fiberglass camel statue that the State Department plans to purchase for the new American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MANUEL BALCEĀ CENETA
House Foreign Affairs Committee Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, shows a picture of a $400,000 fiberglass camel statue that the State Department plans to purchase for the new American embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. CREDIT: AP PHOTO/MANUEL BALCEĀ CENETA

The House of Representatives has passed a law that would allow the Secretary of State the ability to deny passport to anyone who has aided a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) and revoking the passport to U.S. citizens who have aided such groups.

H.R. 237, also known as the FTO Passport Revocation Act of 2015, has about a 37 percent chance of passing the senate, according to govtrack.us.

Proposed by Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX), H.R. 237 reads: “the Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport to any individual whom the Secretary has determined has aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).”

According to the bill, the Secretary of State may also “revoke a passport previously issued to any individual” who meets the same terms described in the paragraph above.

Poe first proposed this bill just two days after the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The rise of the radical jihadist group ISIS, also known as the Islamic State or ISIL, has struck a nerve with western lawmakers.

In the U.S., the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has called on Congress to drop H.R. 237.

We “urge the committee to oppose the advancement of a House-approved bill that would revoke or deny passports of American citizens accused of having ‘links’ to foreign terrorist organizations (FTO) without actually being charged with any criminal wrongdoing or given the opportunity to meaningfully challenge such a designation administratively or in court,” CAIR said in a statement on Friday.

CAIR’s opposition to the bill is spelled out here:

Shortly after the Jan. 7 attack on Charlie Hebdo, France proposed its own version of the Patriot Act called the “Loi Renseignement” or the Surveillance Act. Approved by legislators in May, critics have labeled it France’s “Big Brother.”

Last year, David Cameron, the British prime minister, passed similar measures to ban citizens that fought with extremists from returning to the U.K. for two years.

While the measures are meant to protect western countries from returning jihadists and potential terrorist attacks, they’ve been heavily criticized by civil liberty groups.

“Legislation should encourage citizens to return and face due process rather than force them to stay in a crisis zone and further radicalise themselves or others in the UK through their online activities,” Jonathan Russell, of the counter-extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation, told the Guardian about the U.K.’s measures.