FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Lieberman’s Strip Tease

Joe Lieberman can probably find something in the latest proposal from Russia that he’ll be wanting to incorporate in the legislation he is about to introduce. In the week before Joe proposed stripping U.S. citizens of their citizenship (in order to more effectively deal with terrorists who are trying to destroy the way of life we enjoy that protects what Joe is trying to destroy), the Russian parliament took up legislation that would extend the powers the Russian Federal Security Services (F.S.B.) has over organizations, to individuals. (F.S.B. is the successor to the K.B.G.)

The day after Times Square would-be-bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was arrested, Joe announced that he planned to propose legislation that any “American citizen who is found to be involved in a foreign terrorist organization, as defined by the Department of State, would be deprived of their citizenship rights.”

Under Joe’s proposal, a person would be deprived of citizenship even though nothing had been proved against the citizen. If the citizen were later found not to have been involved in the kind of activity that triggered the loss of citizenship, I am sure Joe would include a provision that would restore the person’s citizenship. Of course, during the interim, the citizen would not have been able to assert any constitutional rights available only to citizens.

Joe’s proposal would permit the former citizen to be tried before a military commission (where the conviction rate is one conviction and two acquittals so far), rather than the civilian courts (where, according to New York University’s Terrorism Trial Report Card, the government pursued more than 800 prosecutions of terrorists and has an 89% conviction rate.) In addition, depriving a person of citizenship permits prosecutors to avoid giving the suspect the Miranda warning, two words that frighten the Joe Liebermans of the world considerably more than a peremptory loss of citizenship by a suspected terrorist.

(Since the proposed legislation would deal with the hated Miranda warning, John McCain would almost certainly sign on to Joe’s legislation. Without knowing the results of the interrogation of Mr. Shahzad, John said reading him his Miranda rights was a “serious mistake.” He said: I certainly would not read this individual his Miranda rights. I would not do that.” John, who is not a lawyer, tried to clarify what he meant by saying later that the Miranda warning should only be given after the investigators have learned what the investigation is all about. By then, of course, the information may be tainted, a non-troubling fact to John.)

Here are some provisions Joe may want to add to his proposed legislation that come to us courtesy of Russia. Under existing law in Russia, the F.S.B. has the authority to impose preventive measures on organizations it considers extremist but not on individuals. A bill has been introduced in the Russian parliament that would permit officers to confront law abiding citizens who are engaged in lawful activities and give them verbal or written warnings that their activities are “unacceptable” and may constitute criminal conduct, even if they are doing nothing illegal and no charges are pending against them. The legislation introduced in the lower house of Parliament, would impose fines or 15-day jail terms on those refusing to comply with demands made by the officers. Like Joe’s U.S. proposal, this is being introduced because of the increased threat of terrorism. In a note attached to the bill the government says the new law is needed to “consolidate the establishment of special prevention measures.”

Fair Russia’s party Chairman, Gennady Gudkov, opposes the legislation. He said the K.G.B. formerly used “warnings” when “there was insufficient evidence for criminal persecution (sic).” Viktor I. Ilyukhin, a Communist deputy who serves on the Duma committee on constitutional law, believes the new law will be used to suppress all dissent. He told the newspaper Noviye Izvestiya that before the new law only prosecutors could issue warnings. “Now they spit on all that. Any citizen can be called an extremist for taking a public position, for political activity. A warning can be given to anyone who criticizes the powers that be. If you print this interview, they will announce that Ilyukhin is an extremist.”

A similar warning about the Lieberman proposal was issued by Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC Irvine School of Law. In an editorial in the Los Angeles Times he observed: “The great fear is that when the government has the power to strip some people of basic rights, it cannot be easily limited. Fundamental protections of our democracy are lost, and for no gain. Responding to acts of terrorism with deprivations of civil liberties is a familiar and troubling pattern.”

Messrs. Chemerinsky and Ilyukhin got it right. Joe got it wrong. Perhaps his colleagues will figure that out and put his proposal on the Senate’s trash heap of dumb ideas, assuming there is still room.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
Mel Gurtov
Weaponizing Humanitarian Aid
Thomas Knapp
Lame Duck Shutdown Theater Time: Pride Goeth Before a Wall?
George Wuerthner
The Thrill Bike Threat to the Elkhorn Mountains
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Selfhood and Her Ability to Act in the Public Domain: Resilience of Nadia Murad
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
On the Killing of an Ash Tree
Graham Peebles
Britain’s Homeless Crisis
Louis Proyect
America: a Breeding Ground for Maladjustment
Steve Carlson
A Hell of a Time
Dan Corjescu
America and The Last Ship
Jeffrey St. Clair
Booked Up: the 25 Best Books of 2018
David Yearsley
Bikini by Rita, Voice by Anita
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail