2012 March 05 Monday
Eric Holder Argues For Killing American Terrorists Abroad

Some US citizens should become eligible to explore the afterlife at the push of a UAV missile launch button if they cross certain lines.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Americans who have joined al Qaeda or its affiliates can be targeted for lethal strikes if there is an imminent threat to the United States and capturing them is not feasible

If Americans were far more homogeneous (i.e. if we did not allow birthright citizenship and immigration of believers of a hostile religion and if our liberal beliefs hadn't become hostile to the idea of a dominant culture whose norms all should embrace) then I could see treating all Americans abroad has possessed of special protection as far as US foreign policy is concerned. But this isn't the 1950s. Our elites have seen fit to cheapen and dilute the value of US citizenship, to bestow it automatically on those indifferent to or even enemies of the United States.

Look at basic facts about Anwar al-Awlaki's US citizenship and killing by US forces.

Awlaki was born in 1971 in the southern US state of New Mexico, where his father, Nasser, a future Yemeni agriculture minister and university president, was studying agricultural economics.

He lived in the US until the age of seven, when his family returned to Yemen.

After studying Islam during his teenage years, Awlaki returned to the US to gain a degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University and a master's in education at San Diego State.

Why should he have had US citizenship in the first place? Making it so easy to get US citizenship cheapens its value. If someone has citizenship and yet has no allegiance to the United States, no emotional bond, no sense of common cause with the American people, then why should we act like he's one of us? I see no reason whatsoever to treat him as being owed special status as a US citizen.

The problem here is that the US government wants to de facto yank someone's citizenship without doing it de jure. Why? The de jure step takes us down the road toward standards for who qualifies for citizenship. They don't want to open that can of worms.

I think we need levels of citizenship. Some of the rights of US citizens should earned. We already have that to some extent and we even have some mechanisms for revoking rights. For example, felons can't vote. We need more gradations of privileges and rights so that it is clear to all that US citizenship bears with it responsibilities and obligations.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2012 March 05 08:58 PM  Immigration Terrorism

WJ said at March 5, 2012 11:08 PM:

Even assuming birthright citizenship made sense in 1868, it doesn't make sense today. Back then it was still difficult and even dangerous to travel to the United States. Today plains, trains, automobiles and buses have made it possible to get here from almost anywhere in the world in a matter of hours. The number of foreign visitors to the US every year is somewhere north of 40 million, iirc. It makes no sense to hand out citizenship to any child whose mother happens to be here, however temporarily, when she squeezes him out. Soon the notion of citizenship will mean very little.

That's way I loathe it when open borders fanatics praise the "courage" of immigrants as if they were hopping on some rickety sailing vessel in 1730, crossing the stormy North Atlantic, and venturing out into "the West," to live in mud huts and scratch a living from the ground mere yards from Injun Country. Immigrants today come here using the safest method of travel ever known, and are almost always leaving countries significantly poorer than the US, and often end up settling in neighborhoods filled with friends and family members from their native country. No courage required. No risk required.

Managing it would be a bit of a pain, but an equity voting system might improve things a bit: you get a base number of votes, with extra votes for being a native born citizen, a military vet, passing a basic civics test (which would also serve as a literacy test), and perhaps for having minor children. You could subtract votes for those on major welfare programs or who are convicted felons. The goal shouldn't be greater say for the rich, but less of a say for the stupid, lazy, irresponsible, and those who have no real connection to American life.

But equity voting won't happen and neither will border enforcement. We're stuck with this mess until things get so bad that people can't feed their families or pay their mortgages.

Matt@occidenalism.org said at March 5, 2012 11:48 PM:

The sci-fi novel cat's eye by Andre Norton gives examples of various levels of citizenship with different rights, such as non-citizen, sub-citizen, and full citizen. I read it when I was about 13 so I forget the full details, but even at that time I thought that sub-citizenship would be a good solution for dealing with troublesome minorities.

Mthson said at March 6, 2012 12:17 AM:

Sounds like The Onion is already on board: U.S. Offers PlatinumPlus Preferred Citizenship.

Goods points, WJ.

Michael L said at March 6, 2012 6:20 AM:

Holder et al gang has to be fought tooth and nail regardless of how superficially reasonable their measures seem in the here and now. This is not a spherical cow in a vacuum - we **know** they are working on dismantling the traditional liberties small step by small step. We have seen it in the past, see it today and will see it continually in the future. So if today they kill "Americans" in a Yemen war zone, tomorrow they will start declaring parts of America a war zone and kill real Americans there in the same manner. If FBI agents-provocateur manufacture an endless stream of "terrorists" out of discontented Muslims of the dumber sort, they can manufacture a fake "insurgency" just as well.

bbartlog said at March 6, 2012 8:55 AM:

The fifth amendment opens with 'No *person*', not 'no citizen'. As a practical matter of course the US can only uphold the rights of its own people, i.e. not those in Libya or Syria or what have you - but that doesn't mean it should deliberately *violate* the rights of non-citizens. Of course there are wartime exemptions but I question whether those are applicable here.

solaris said at March 6, 2012 12:19 PM:

For the most part the writers of the Constitution and it's subsequent amendments seem not to have given a lot of thought to the distinction between "person" and "citizen". The terms are mostly used interchangeably.

The most famous example to this is in the now rescinded but still infamous "three-fifths" clause, which made the distinction between "free persons" (which meant citizens) and "other persons", which everybody knew meant slaves.

Subsequent Supreme Court rulings have said that "persons" is a superset category, including but not limited to "citizens". There's really no basis for this in the text of the Constitution though.

AMac said at March 7, 2012 7:28 AM:

The Long War Journal has a post that quotes extensively from the transcript of Holder's speech.

Somewhat off topic, that blog is an excellent source for accounts of the activities of Al Qaeda and other organizations in Afghanisatan, Iraq, and the wider Middle East. Regarding Yemen, where al-Awlaki was assassinated/liquidated, here is a LWJ report on AQAP's victory on Sunday over the Yemeni Army. They essentially destroyed a mechanized battalion: killing 185 soldiers, wounding 150, capturing 60, and confiscating its heavy equipment.

Formidable adversaries on their home ground.

tommy said at March 8, 2012 1:13 PM:

1. End birthright citizenship.

2. Those citizens whose parents were not native-born citizens of the United States should not have the right to vote. The children of such citizens would acquire the right.

3. Adults applying for citizenship should have to score in the 50th percentile or better of the ASVAB (when compared to those presently serving in the military) to demonstrate they are a potential asset to the nation in a time of war. This would serve as a de facto IQ test that isn't too rigorous, but will nevertheless weed out a good percentage of NAM applicants.

Check it Out said at March 8, 2012 4:28 PM:

The word citizen is losing its meaning, before the perspective of one world. I've already been treated as a citizen. Now I want to be treated as a person 'cause citizens are usually treated like crap, by police, big brother, politicians, companies, banks, wall street, etc. We see that every day.

I demand my human rights before my citizen rights.

What do we have as citizens anyway, when we should be treated with all the dignity humans deserve.

Everybody IS already a citizen of somewhere, but that means very little nowadays, doesn't it?

solaris said at March 9, 2012 11:17 AM:

>"Now I want to be treated as a person 'cause citizens are usually treated like crap, by police, big brother, politicians, companies, banks, wall street, etc. We see that every day. "

And how do "police, big brother, politicians, companies, banks, wall street, etc" treat "persons"?

>"Everybody IS already a citizen of somewhere, but that means very little nowadays, doesn't it?"

Depends on the country. It means squat in America, that's for sure. In many respects you're better off not being a citizen in modern America - "persons" (aka non-citizens) have rights, citizens have responsibilities. "Persons" are exempt from many of the laws which apply to citizens.

Engineer-Poet said at March 9, 2012 8:56 PM:

When we consider this situation, it's important to see how we got here.

A century ago, a number of actions could implicitly revoke US citizenship.  IIRC, serving in the army of an enemy power was one of them.  Voting in the elections of a foreign nation was another.  Swearing allegiance to a foreign potentate... etc.

The Supreme Court of the United States invalidated the statutes which had set these standards.  What Holder has done is to try to establish de facto what those laws had stated de jure.  Perhaps we need to re-visit those laws and reverse the decisions which deemed them invalid under the Constitution.

eggwhite said at March 10, 2012 3:58 PM:

Great post by WJ and I agree - end birth right citizenship. And yes, it is deplorable that we keep empowering the Executive branch to do what they want. But, it doesn't have to be irreversible. Remember, the US interned large numbers of American citizens during WWII, but I doubt that will happen again soon.

eggwhite said at March 10, 2012 4:00 PM:

Good post by Engineer-Poet, I didn't know that. There may be some hyperbole around this issue.

Zamman said at March 11, 2012 2:50 PM:

Oh but please, carry on with your wonderful lectures on citizenship, humanity and persons. While yo'all chant mass around here, the world continues to tolerate this kind of pre-human unspecific species.

Sorry, but all of Randall's considerations, Check it out's perspectives on citizenship, tommy's silly nonsense or Solaris's heavy roundabouts, come to mean dick when one reads this report.


McNeil said at April 3, 2012 4:26 PM:

Checked your site Zamman and now I begin to wonder if that's America's new thing: killing children and women. Perhaps that soldier is now back home whining to his shrink about how tough he had it in Afghanistan. There's already been lots of news about American soldiers raping girls, pointing guns at children, torturing and other offenses around the world.

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