Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Congress Votes to Take Your Passport

-Daniel McAdams
Revolutions most often become horrific parodies as they inevitably turn inward on their own people. The former subjects of Louis XVI soon understood liberté, égalité, fraternité to in fact mean the guillotine. In the name of fighting one’s enemies, the regime takes to cannibalizing its own citizens, as the motion of the action requires the “enemies” list to orient ever more inwardly.

Which brings us to the matter of HR 237, a bill to “[t]o authorize the revocation or denial of passports and passport cards to individuals affiliated with foreign terrorist organizations, and for other purposes,” coming to the Floor of the US House today on, of all things, the “suspension calendar.” This “suspension calendar” accommodates bills that are traditionally considered uncontroversial in nature and thus not requiring the full daylight of a thorough Congressional debate.

Think: renaming post offices.

Under the “suspension of the rules,” bills can be brought to the Floor without going through the rules process and thus not be eligible for any amendment or substantive debate. Forty minutes of mostly praise and usually a voice-vote of approval and the “suspension” is on its way to becoming the law of the land.

As my old colleague Norman Singleton brings to light, HR 237 is hardly uncontroversial. It gives the US Secretary of State the power to revoke the passport of any American he determines has “aided, assisted, abetted, or otherwise helped an organization the Secretary has designated as a foreign terrorist organization.”

This means the Secretary of State can, unilaterally, with no due process and no oversight, deprive an American citizen the privileges of citizenship, thus relegating him to internal exile inside the United States — a practice most recently perfected in the Soviet Union.

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