By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer
How many times does Lucy get to pull the football away?
For the umpteenth time, Sen. Joe Lieberman is proposing something that’s ridiculously harmful to our way of life, and Democrats are open to compromising with him because he’s with them on everything except the war (and other things conveniently forgotten later).
Except this time, it’s not his view on filibusters, which he now threatens to join with Republicans when he doesn’t get his way, despite his previous derisions that they only held up necessary legislation.
Nor is it the time he told the Connecticut Post in 2009 that he favored Medicare buy-ins for people as young as 55, then three months later threatened to sink any health care bill including a Medicare buy-in.
This time, he’s attacking a fundamental American concept. He’s proposing that any American suspected of foreign terrorism is no longer an American.
“I’m now putting together legislation (so that) any individual 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,” Lieberman said May 5. “If you have joined an enemy of the United States in attacking the United States to try to kill Americans I think you sacrifice your rights of citizenship.”
That’s all well and good. But the problem is what neither Lieberman nor the bill say — a little word called, “convicted.” The Department of State can arbitrarily declare that somebody’s a terrorist. No trials. No judges.
Republicans, would you feel comfortable knowing Hillary Clinton could decide who’s a foreign terrorist? Democrats, how would you feel giving Condoleezza Rice that same power?
And it’s been pointed out already by other detractors, but it’s important to mention that this law has nothing about preventing domestic terrorism.
It couldn’t have done anything to shut down the Timothy McVeighs of the world. Are the people killed in a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995 less deserving of a vigilant law enforcement effort than those who were killed in a federal building in Washington, D.C., in 2001?
Terrorism is terrorism, whether it’s a man who claims to be a good Muslim trying to fly a plane into a building, a man who claims to be a patriotic American driving a van full of explosives into a parking garage or a man who claims to be a good Christian waiting with a sniper rifle outside of a church to take out a doctor who performs abortions.
But the Obama administration is listening, for some reason. They’re looking into Lieberman’s idea that you don’t get Miranda rights if you’re suspected of terrorism. As soon as they agree to that, Lieberman’s going to move the goalposts, and ask for more. Just like he’s done with Medicare and filibusters. Just like he’ll do until he’s satisfied he’s punished the Democratic Party enough for not backing him when Ned Lamont defeated him in the 2006 Democratic primary.
I think “innocent until proven guilty” is an American standard worth defending, not a political football. And Joe Lieberman shouldn’t get to pull it away from us.