Sunday, May 9, 2010

I’m Glad Rudy Giuliani Is Not the President

This morning, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani was a guest on ABC’s This Week, hosted by ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper. During the interview, Mr. Giuliani proved once again why he should not be President of the United States:

TAPPER: I want to ask you a question about, in the trial of Richard Reid in 2003, Judge William Young said to Richard Reid in 2003, “You’re not an enemy combatant. You’re a terrorist. You’re not a soldier in any war. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature. We do not negotiate with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice.”

That’s a different attitude than the one you’re talking about. Some people say that by making somebody like [accused terrorist Faisal] Shahzad, who is certainly less successful than several of the mobsters you put away, who did far more heinous things than Shahzad actually was able to accomplish, but were tried in a criminal court, they say that what you’re proposing would elevate somebody like Shahzad.

GIULIANI: Well, that’s absurd, of course. I mean, you get more rights as a civilian defendant than you do as an enemy combatant, so that’s a matter of semantics. Maybe you’re giving them more status in terms of semantics, but you’re giving them less rights, which is really important.

I mean, look at this whole thing with Senator Lieberman’s recommendation that citizenship be revoked and look at the reluctance of the attorney general to support that. It shows a sort of sense of, I don’t know, not understanding the magnitude of the problem.

I mean, why shouldn’t we revoke the citizenship of someone who’s been designated the — an agent of a foreign — of a foreign power or an agent of a — of a terrorist group? Of course we should. Of course we should be able to revoke it. And I’d be happy to test the constitutionality of that.

Instead we have an attorney general who’s studying that, also. They’re at war with us, and we’re spending time studying what rights they have. This doesn’t make much sense, Jake. We’re worried more about the rights of the terrorists, it seems — or at least pondering that — more than we are urgency about actually curing some of these things that will keep us safe and not have us rely on luck, which is how we got — got through these last two ones.

The “recommendation” of Senator Lieberman to which Mr. Giuliani referred is the “Terrorist Expatriation Act” that Senator Lieberman co-sponsored last week. That bill would expand a program first enacted in 1940 which allows the State Department to revoke the citizenship of anyone engaged in certain activities in support of a foreign government. The Supreme Court later narrowed the scope of the 1940 law by requiring evidence of a voluntary renouncement of American citizenship before said citizenship could be revoked.

Mr. Giuliani should be ashamed of himself for being so cavalier about fundamental American rights. Allowing the Executive Branch to revoke the rights of citizenship without due process is not only a Very Bad Idea™, it is also clearly unconstitutional1. Democracies fail when their constitutions are not heeded and the last thing America should ever do is repeat the mistakes of the past. That someone has been accused of a crime, even a heinous crime, is not enough to deprive that person of his or her fundamental rights and those accusations must first be proved in a court of law before any punishment can be meted out.

It is indeed a sad day for the Republican Party when Glenn Beck, of all people, is the lone voice of reason among them on this issue. He recently said, “It’s easy to follow the Constitution when you benefit from it or you’re not affected by it. But what happens when you go against what you want to do, when you want to strap this guy down to the rack and make him talk, but you don’t because it violates the Constitution? That’s what makes this country different.”

  1. The fifth amendment to the Constitution of the United States is as follows (emphasis added): “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”