- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 6, 2010

Saying American citizens who turn to terrorism against the U.S. have renounced their country, lawmakers on Capitol Hill announced a bill Thursday to let the government actually strip them of their citizenship.

Under a 1940 law, the State Department can already withdraw citizenship for those who join an enemy’s armed forces, and the lawmakers said it’s time to update the law by adding terrorism to the list of reasons for forfeiting citizenship.

“Those who join such groups join our enemy and should be deprived of the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship and the ability to use their American passports as tools of terror,” said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent who is leading the lawmakers who proposed the bill.

The senators argued that those who engage in terrorism have already in effect shown an intent to renounce their citizenship — the standard set in a 1980 Supreme Court ruling.

Both administration officials and congressional leaders seemed uncertain about going down that path, though.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said they worried about the constitutional implications of the move.

“I like the spirit of it, but I’d like to know what the trigger of it is,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “If somebody is on a watch list or ‘Do not fly’ list, does that constitute grounds for them losing citizenship?” she asked.