Bloggingheads with David Frum and other matters

Discussing Kagan, Obama's terrorism policies, citizenship stripping, the left's "epistemic closure," Times Square

Topics: Times Square Bomb Attempt, Washington, D.C.,

A couple of days ago, I had a BloggingheadsTV discussion with David Frum, posted below, regarding Elena Kagan and Harriet Miers; the extent to which “epistemic closure” exists among progressives as well as conservatives; Obama’s embrace of Bush’s Terrorism policies; and the Times Square incident and what it reflects about Terrorists and civil liberties.  The discussion was congenial, in large part because the David Frum of 2010 bears so little resemblance to the David Frum of 2002-03 (for the latest evidence of that, see his new column condemning Joe Lieberman’s despicable [and nonsensical] proposal to strip Americans accused of supporting foreign Terrorist organizations of their U.S. citizenship).

I think the whole discussion is reasonably worthwhile, though if you want to watch only a couple of parts, I’d recommend the segment beginning at 49:00, where David reconsiders his prior support for the Bush administration’s treatment of Jose Padilla, and the segment beginning at 34:30 relating to Obama’s embrace of Bush’s Terrorism policies and the reaction of Democrats/progressives to that:

A few related notes:  

(1) Earlier this week, Law Professor Paul Campos took a thorough and extremely critical look at Elena Kagan’s career, and will have an even more critical assessment later today in The New Republic

(2) Linda Monk, who previously endorsed Kagan at The Huffington Post, rescinded that endorsement upon further consideration.

(3) Preliminary, anonymous indications are that Faisal Shahzad, the American citizen accused of planting the failed car bomb in Times Square, was motivated (at least in part) by a desire for retaliation against America’s lethal and possibly criminal Predator drone attacks in Pakistan, including at least one such attack which occurred when Shahzad was in Pakistan.  Not that any more should be needed, but if that’s true, it’d be merely the latest evidence proving that when we slaughter civilians in other parts of the world (and those drone attacks have killed hundreds of innocent people, at least), it causes others to want to do the same to us.  That’s called “human nature.”  I’m sure President Obama’s giddy, sociopathic joke-telling about Predator drones at glitzy Beltway media events is extremely helpful in that regard.

(4) One ironic aspect of Lieberman’s sponsorship of the citizenship-stripping bill for accused Terrorists is that the original 1940 law on which it is based was designed, as Frum put it, “to strip citizenship from Americans who showed themselves loyal to a foreign power.”  Fortunately for Joe Lieberman (as well as for GOP Rep. Peter King), the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 held that it is unconstitutional for Congress to strip the citizenship of any American who did not voluntarily renounce citizenship, even if that citizen proved himself loyal to a foreign country (adding to the irony, that case, Afroyim v. Rusk, involved an American citizen who had voted in Israeli elections and, as a result, had his passport renewal denied by the State Department on the ground that he had lost his American citizenship under The Nationality Act of 1940).  As the Afroyim Court put it (emphasis added):

[The Fourteenth Amendment] provides its own constitutional rule in language calculated completely to control the status of citizenship: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States . . . are citizens of the United States . . . .”  There is no indication in these words of a fleeting citizenship, good at the moment it is acquired but subject to destruction by the Government at any time.  Rather the Amendment can most reasonably be read as defining a citizenship which a citizen keeps unless he voluntarily relinquishes it. Once acquired, this Fourteenth Amendment citizenship was not to be shifted, canceled, or diluted at the will of the Federal Government, the States, or any other governmental unit.

The Court, in 1980, made clear what a person must do in order to be found to have “voluntarily renounced” his citizenship.  All of this underscores another great irony of Lieberman’s advocacy of this bill:   although I’d be unequivocally opposed to any citizenship-stripping, if anyone merits having that done to them, it’s Joe Lieberman, who proves — yet again — that he has no interest or belief in core American principles.

I’m still on “vacation” and will return here on Monday.

Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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