How Do You Solve A Problem Like Muthana?

Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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143 Responses

  1. pillsy says:

    While I understand the desire to see Muthana lie in the bed she made, I’d really prefer she lie in a bed made by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

    Joining a criminal organization doesn’t make you a citizen of that criminal organization.

    It just makes you a criminal.Report

  2. InMD says:

    I agree with you, unpalatable as it may be. If it can be determined she is a citizen then she should be brought back and tried in federal court with full due process. Not that I’m a fan of the broad anti-terrorism laws we have in this country but I think it makes any fears about what she might do misplaced. If I were her counsel I’d tell her that what she needs to weigh isn’t the refugee camp versus life in Alabama but the refugee camp versus federal prison from multiple felony convictions or a plea bargain.Report

  3. Em Carpenter says:

    Her father has filed suit, but I don’t think he has standing to do so.

    That has been the finding in other suits filed by family members in similar cases.Report

  4. Chip Daniels says:

    The amount of ink and pixels spilled over a few stray women who have offered nothing more than vocal and emotional support for a terrorist organization amazes me.

    Compared to how the media and our political entities treat the various militia and domestic terror groups which have proven themselves far more lethal and dangerous.Report

  5. J_A says:

    Coincidentally, the UK is going so almost the same exact case, that of Shamima Begum,_Shamima_Begum_and_Kadiza_Sultana

    Begum, born in 5he UK of Bangladeshi born parents, was stripped of her UK citizenship by the Home Secretary, on the grounds that she is a dual citizen, having access to Bangladeshi citizenship from her parents. But Begum has never been in Bangladesh, never had a Bangladeshi passport, nor did her parents ever claimed Bangladeshi citizenship for her.

    It has become a much bigger deal in the UK that Muthana’s here. I confess I’m fairly up to date on news and hadn’t heard of Muthana. And my position is that you cannot make people stateless, and tha5 should be the primary consideration.Report

    • Pinky in reply to J_A says:

      You just gave me an excuse to post this link:

      Fridtjof Nansen was an athlete, explorer, Ph.D. zoologist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for the creation of the “Nansen passport” for stateless refugees.Report

    • Murali in reply to J_A says:

      One difference between Muthana and Begum is that the latter is explicitly unrepentant while the former nominally is. That seems like a crucial moral difference even if legally it may not entirely cut ice.

      Whatever Muthana’s fate it ought to be resolved in the courts. Begum’s citizenship was revoked by the minister. I might approve the outcome in that instance, but the process by which it happened stinks.Report

      • J_A in reply to Murali says:

        But Begum has no Bangladeshi citizenship, notwithstanding what the Home Secretary says, nor has she ever been a Bangladeshi. She might have the right to claim one, but she never did.

        And I doubt that her eventual Bangladeshi citizenship is automatic, and that the Bangladeshi government has no legal say, under Bangladeshi law, on whether or not she’s entitled to a passportReport

  6. Aaron David says:

    I think Pillsy is right up above. But it really brings into focus many of the ideas that are… let us just say in contention in the western world. Who has the rights to our largess, who is a citizen, how great is that largess? Who determines this?

    None of these are easy to answer, nor should they be.Report

    • InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

      Whether shes an American citizen or not should be pretty prove-able based on when she was born and records of when her father’s assignment ended. If he was still a diplomat then she’s a Yemeni national. If he wasn’t she’s an American.

      I agree with you on the larger point though. It’s a massive failure of our politics and Congress that the issue has been allowed to rot. We need an official policy of some kind. The lack of one is the worst of all worlds.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

        One of the advances of the Enlightenment was the idea of an objective rule of law, where the arbitrary exercise of power was diminished.

        I see that eroding quite a bit after 9-11 where there was a deliberate effort to keep the struggle against terror groups murky and shrouded in ambiguity, where the state could retain an almost unlimited amount of arbitrary power.

        The War on Terror is called a war when it is convenient to drum up fear and anxiety, yet the opponents are criminals when it is convenient to dismiss the norms and conventions of wartime behavior. Yet the laws and safeguards of accused criminals are also dismissed when it seems like they will yield an outcome we don’t like.

        The fact that this woman falls into a murky gray zone of rights-less, stateless limbo isn’t a strange quirk- its by design.Report

        • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          I agree and it’s part of the problem with Congress continuously delegating authority to a more and more powerful executive. Our founders thought Congress would be the most dangerous branch but in the modern era I think it’s quite obviously the executive. The broader the authority the more arbitrary and political that authority becomes.Report

        • JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          You do not achieve an objective rule of law without resolving social objectivity.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          The fact that this woman falls into a murky gray zone of rights-less, stateless limbo isn’t a strange quirk- its by design.

          I agree that *choosing* to make her a focal point of debate is by design, but the fact that she exists in a nebulous zone of rightslessness isn’t. Seems to me it’s the result of decades of ever-increasing political pressure imposed on US immigration and citizenship policies unable to bear the strain. In a different political context than we currently occupy this would be a no-brainer: charge her, extradite her, have a trial, impose a sentence.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

        One of my best and oldest friends and his wife are both dual citizens. US and Austria and England respectively as they are Americans born abroad. I would be very surprised that something similar isn’t offered by Yemen. Which would cover this situation if needs be. But, that said, I still feel we should bring her back to stand trial.

        But in regards to policy, yes, we have been kicking the can down the road for generations now, which is causing no end of headaches, partially due to no one in congress wanting to take responsibility, and partially due to a complete lack of a majority vision in the public for these matters.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

        Eh, I think that there’s a case that can be made that the burden of proof of her identity is on her.

        We can’t just wily-nily believe people when they say “I’m coming here from a war zone, sure, but I’m seriously an American citizen.”

        We should be able to say “okay, sure, do you have your passport?”

        Arguing that the US government has to prove a negative is going to lead to some weird and wacky places.

        Does she have her birth certificate? A valid driver’s license?Report

        • Em Carpenter in reply to Jaybird says:

          But the burden of proof IS on the party who claims the lack of citizenship, as stated in the last part of the statute I quoted. If someone asserts a right they have as a citizen and the government’s response is no, you are not a citizen, it is on the government to prove it.

          Incidentally, she has a birth certificate. It’s uncontested that she was born in Hackensack, New Jersey. No drivers license that I’m aware of but she has had a valid passport- canceled by the Obama administration, who said she was not a citizen due to her father being a diplomat- which is of course in question now.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Em Carpenter says:

            OH! I thought she burned her passport.

            Sure, let her back in.

            Then throw the book at her.Report

            • Em Carpenter in reply to Jaybird says:

              She said she was going to burn her passport. Maybe she did. But burning it doesn’t necessarily have the effect of canceling its validity or making her ineligible for a reissue.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Em Carpenter says:

                While I agree with you in theory, I think that, in practice, this turns into “well, do you have your passport *NUMBER*?” and now we’re off to the races if she doesn’t even have that.

                We are now a fully “PAPERS, PLEASE!” society.

                It would be a bad look indeed if we start making exceptions for ISIS fighters that we wouldn’t be willing to make for people who hadn’t participated in a war against the US (or jumping them to the front of the line).Report

    • J_A in reply to Aaron David says:

      who is a citizen,

      I think that the first, non controversial, concept is that everyone must be a citizen of at least one country. You might (perhaps) be forced to give up one of your current citizenships, or to revert to a previous one you had, but you cannot be rendered statelessReport

      • Murali in reply to J_A says:

        why must anyone be a citizen of at least one country? Why not just a permanent resident?Report

        • J_A in reply to Murali says:

          why must anyone be a citizen of at least one country? Why not just a permanent resident?

          I can think of several reasons, but, just for starts, if your permanent residency is revoked, where do you go from there? You literally have no country where you can live on.

          If the permanent residency can’t be revoked ever, then it’s just second class citizenship.Report

          • Murali in reply to J_A says:

            There doesn’t seem anything a state may do to a permanent resident that it cannot also do to a citizen. It seems that the two ought to enjoy the same due process protections (as well as protection of basic liberties). Hell, even tourists ought to enjoy the same due process protections as citizens.Report

            • J_A in reply to Murali says:

              I agree, but that still doesn’t answer the question I posted: in your mind, can permanent residency be revoked?

              (and for conversation’s sake we could stipulate that Begum only had British permanent residency, and that all due process requirements were fulfilled)

              It permanent residency can be revoked, where should the former permanent resident move to?Report

  7. Based on the first sentence of this piece, I think she has a home in the Republican Party. Given recent revelations, perhaps as vice president.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Out of curiosity, is the solution we come up with here something that we’ll expect to be scalable to other countries or should we say that, no, the solution we come up with here applies *SOLELY* to the US?Report

  9. Stillwater says:

    My guess is that the Trump admin. intends to use Muthana as a test case for revising the birthright citizenship clause in the constitution, arguing that merely being born in US territory is not sufficient for a citizenship claim. A quote from one of your linkies makes this pretty clear:

    “Hoda Muthana was not born a U.S. citizen and she has never been a U.S. citizen,” according to a State Department release.

    The only way to make sense of this view consistently with the State Department’s recognition that Muthana, as a matter of fact, was born in the US, is that being born in the US is not, by itself, sufficient for citizenship. This view is consistent with the Trump admin’s wider views on immigration and citizenship more broadly, but finds some purchase (I guess…) in pressing on weak points in the fourteenth amendment’s language. Given that, it seems to me that all the talk about whether she committed treason and so on are beside the point. From the admin’s view anyway.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

      Oooh, the political angle.

      Asking every single Democratic nominee what *THEY* think ought to be done?

      What are the possible answers?

      1) Agree with Trump
      2) Argue that she should be brought back and the book thrown at her and her child placed in a nice Foster Home, maybe some nice Unitarians that can’t have kids (oooh, a gay couple!), and then let her out of prison in 20 years.
      3) Argue that she should be brought back and a somewhat smaller book thrown at her.
      4) Argue that mistakes were made but Trump is a bigot and why wouldn’t you want to fight against him and people are only opposed to Muthana coming back because they are Islamophobic and Isis isn’t representative of Islam and we should let her back into the country and she should get a do-over.

      Meanwhile Trump gets to yell “SHE SHOULD STAY OVER THERE! SHE HAS NO RIGHT TO COME BACK HERE!”Report

      • Michael Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

        Wow, a subject Trump can demagogue. What’s the odds?Report

        • What’s the smart response for your preferred candidate if she’s asked about Muthana?

          (Or he, I suppose.)Report

          • Em Carpenter in reply to Jaybird says:

            I know you’re not asking me, but mine would be “I’d like the law and State Department records examined to determine her citizenship status. If she is in fact a citizen then she should be retrieved and then treated accordingly by our criminal justice system.”Report

            • Jaybird in reply to Em Carpenter says:

              Oh, it’s good to see your response too.

              So lets say Pompeo says “yeah, she’s not a citizen and we’re not going to retrieve her.”

              Now the candidate has a choice between “Welp, that’s what I said I wanted and that’s what I got. Please ask me about college debt forgiveness!” and “No, wait! I want something else now!”Report

              • J_A in reply to Jaybird says:

                So lets say Pompeo says “yeah, she’s not a citizen and we’re not going to retrieve her.”

                Is Pompeo just saying it, or is Pompeo showing the documents that prove that her father had diplomatic status when she was born? The latter should be fairly easy, since Yemen would have notified the Department of State about his position being ended effective date XX (and then adding whatever many days International Law customarily says should be added). In her case, it’s a very easy yes/no situation that doesn’t involve much judgement by Pompeo or other political appointeesReport

              • Jaybird in reply to J_A says:

                I am 100% with yelling “SHOW YOUR WORK!” at every single politician who makes any announcement whatsoever.

                If Trump succeeds at anything, I hope it’s that yelling “I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!” at politicians gets normalized across the board.

                But I’m talking about what we’re hoping the candidates will do.

                Is having the candidate yell “PROVE IT!” something that we’re hoping to hear from, oh, Ms. Harris? (I mean, if anybody has experience with government actors being duplicitous, it’s her.)Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

            I can’t believe I overlooked it when it was already named and right in front of me this whole time.

            The word is Sophistry.

            What you are asking for here is what would be the most Sophist argument that a candidate can make.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

            “We’re going to follow the law. It’s what we do. Trump is going to rant and rave and claim power he doesn’t have. That’s what he does.”Report

      • JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

        Conan said there would be lamentation days like this.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

        I don’t think 20 years.

        She joined one of the most heinous criminal organizations on the face of the planet, and it’s one so nasty and dangerous that the US has declared war on it.

        John Walker made a deal and only got 20 years, and his case was a lot more sympathetic. He joined the Taliban, not ISIS. He was living there and joined before the war started. Just how nasty ISIS is wasn’t nearly as well known then and he didn’t join the group for the purpose of destroying America.

        If she fully understands all this and still wants to come back, then fine, let her. But she could and should very easily be looking at a number a lot greater than 20.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater says:

      I think you might be right about this. Trump isn’t a particularly meticulous thinker or actor but certain members of his administration like Steven Miller are. They realize that this is an excellent opportunity to use one case to get a larger ruling.Report

  10. Chip Daniels says:

    Completely on topic:
    Frequent Fox News guest tells Laura Ingraham “we are in a civil war;” suggests everyone buy guns to prepare for “total war

    When white guys talk like this, everyone tends to yawn and look away. Its assumed that violence by white males is a freakish anomaly, and understood that this guy shouldn’t be taken seriously, that he is just running his mouth like a drunk at a bar.

    Even when white guys actually gather their guns and practice in the woods, and lay out all sorts of strategies for the violent overthrow of the government, it is dismissed with talk of watering the tree, Second Amendment, and so on.

    Even when they take those guns and storm a Federal facility and hold the authorities off at gunpoint, they are seen as merely misguided somehow, and pursuing a poor decision but acting in good faith in some way.

    Even pointing this out, that white male violence has a long and bloody history results in yelps of indignation, like this is some sort of unfair bigotry.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I agree totally.

      its also an epic strategic fail by those on the right who assume only those on the right are so armed.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to Philip H says:

        Meh, I figure there are about 48 million on the left that have access to arms and that will increase as a conflict progresses, what’s your estimate?

        (I also don’t think bullets will kill that many people in a conflict as much as disruption of lean inventory practices.)Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I’m curious about other people’s views on this, but I think we’re only a couple of well-timed Trump tweets away from armed right-nationalists roaming the streets to purge America of undesirables, and with the backing of many in local PDs.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to Stillwater says:

        I must say it’s become more pronounced in the the last week or two than the normal. Not that that means anything.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Stillwater says:

        We are already living in a world of right wing stochastic terror, where individual cells act on the understood direction of the thought leaders.
        We also have local police working with neo Nazis here;
        And here;Report

      • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

        I think there is less than 1% chance that happens and any boob or group of boobs who attempts it will be quickly shot or arrested.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

          Do you think there’s less than a 1% chance Trump will post those tweets, or less than 1% chance that armed people take to the streets if he does?Report

          • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

            I think there is a 100% chance Trump will tweet something reactionary and/or conspiratorial. I think it is also possible that some deranged person will interpret it in a way that leads that person to try something violent based on their prior wacky beliefs (think pizza gate).

            I think any organized taking to the streets is less than 1%. I also think that the loyalty of local law enforcement is not in doubt. Police are primarily local authorities and need to be thought of as bureaucrats. They want their pension. They want to make their numbers. They want to go home every night for dinner. Anyone that even remotely could be considered as jeopardizing that can end up on the wrong end of a service weapon, a refurbished m-16, a bearcat, etc. There’s definitely an underlying ideology to it but it is not white nationalism or anything that would cause them to turn on their chain of command.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

              That is demonstrably not true.

              We have plenty of examples of law enforcement officers who are white supremacists and either openly or covertly aligning themselves with those who are trying to foment riots.

              The loyalty of law enforcement to the Constitution can’t be safely assumed.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The loyalty of law enforcement to the Constitution can’t be safely assumed.

                Or more specifically, people disagree about what loyalty to the constitution requires. So yeah, that’s my worry as well.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                I just noticed this and want to clarify my comment before I get out of this thread which IMO has already careened well into the ridiculous. I did not say ‘loyal to the constitution,’ I said to their chain of command. That means local chiefs, mayors, and governing authorities who sign the paychecks.

                If you want an example of how willingly local officers involve themselves in combat the Parkland or Columbine examples are a lot more illustrative than the rhetoric of some fringe group hyped up in the popular imagination. Worrying about the Oath Keepers on the left is like worrying about the New Black Panthers on the right.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

                I’ll go ahead and belabor the point first by posting an amusing tweet I saw the other day.

                ME, AGE 20: Ha ha, I like the riffs, but these Rage Against the Machine lyrics are kind of corny.

                ME, AGE 40 (at a cocktail party): You know, some of those who work forces are actually, no joke, the same who burn crosses.

                Second, I fully accept arguments made by North and Pillsy that Trump’s tweets won’t incite increased violence based on an evaluation of evidence we already have, namely, that he’s been inciting his base for months now without any resulting actions from his base. What strikes me as a bizarre rebuttal, however, is the view that the Oath Keepers, a group defined by their commitment to rejecting the chain of command insofar as constitutional issues are concerned, are a non-issue because those officers will respect the chain of command. Have those boys just been yanking each others chain all these years?

                Third, upthread you mentioned a scope of the type of violence I alluded to by saying something like it could happen (1% chance) but those folks would be quickly shot. That’s good enough for me and answered my question perfectly. No one, certainly not me, talked about the extent of the violence, the degree to which it’s coordinated, the likelihood of success (since no success metric was proposed). The question was limited to exactly what I wrote: whether Trump’s tweets could incite armed wingers to roam the streets in some cases aided by officers. I think they could (obvs), and that the prospect of second amendment solutions being employed to protect his presidency are real and increase every time Fox and others encourage listeners to arm up as a rational action of engagement in our current “civil war”.Report

              • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

                Regarding the Oath Keepers specifically my understanding was that they were mostly retired and/or inactive. Maybe I need to look that up but to answer your question I think yes, mostly, they have been. I think their numbers are probably grossly inflated and that when put in a position of facing serious jail time or being killed almost all would balk.

                To the rest of your comment, makes sense, and fair enough. I was accidentally conflating your position with what seemed to be implied in other comments down thread (I saw Chip also made a similar clarification).

                I’ve said before on here that between the pop PoMo stuff and reaction to Trump I’m worried about the death of small l liberalism and total loss of perspective by much of the progressive movement. Let’s not become the same as these deranged people on the other side who speculate about civil war and race war and intervention by the armed power of the state into our cultural conflicts (which I know you aren’t, this is me venting). I’d like to think we have a much more realistic understanding of what that would actually be like, why it’s so crazy, and what that kind of talk has already done to our politics.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Dare I ask for a source?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                In addition to the links above?
                LA Times, L.A. sheriff watchdogs alarmed about new claims of secret deputy clique at Compton station

                NBC News, Friendly texts between Portland police and right-wing leader sow division in city;

                New York Times, Feb. 6, 2019
                Virginia Police Sergeant Suspended After Antifa Group Identifies White Nationalist Ties

                This was 30 seconds of Googling; I could post more, but the number of links would trip the spam filter.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I should probably clarify, that like most institutions law enforcement isn’t a monolith. There are of course plenty of black cops.

                But institutions have a certain sense of mission and the mission here is to defend the existing order.

                That the existing order has a white face tilts the scales a bit. There may be some BLM-friendly cops out there, but not many.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Dude, if you want to talk about a culture of unaccountably in the police, the blue wall, whatever, I’m right there with you. But I’m not buying that some matching tattoos in LA and texts to a neo-nazi in Portland that may or may not have been part of de-escalation efforts (and in any case sparked an official investigation) are evidence that the police are ready to intervene on the side of fringe racist groups in a hypothetical uprising.

                This is getting way too close to a mirror image of black helicopters/FEMA camp territory for me. North has in right. Most of the conservative media outlets don’t want an uprising, they want customers. The fringe groups that are out there are small, disparate, and weak, and whatever small time crap they’re capable of isn’t going to be aided by the authorities.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                I know, which is why I added the clarification.
                What percentage of cops openly, covertly, silently, sorta somewhat maybe on a bad day would support a violent white supremacy group?

                I don’t know. But it isnt insignificant.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Zac Black says:

                They number approx. 30,000 and that may have been at peak. If every member was active enforcement, that would be about 3%. More likely it is less than 1%.

                I think left wing media has that side believing there is a nazi cop behind every badge.Report

            • Philip H in reply to InMD says:

              You assume the chain is above the fray. Not a safe assumption anymore:


              Or HERE

              Or HERE

              And frankly, living in the deep South these days – if the Oath Keepers or any similar group ever turns on America because Trump or any other “leader” winks and nudges them into it, many many more will follow. Some days its palpable in my hood.Report

          • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

            I have little doubt that Trump wishes there were MAGA Death Squads, but near total doubt that his desires will ever become reality.

            The occasional solitary deranged nitwit or small-time gang, on the other hand….Report

            • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

              I guess my question to both you and Oscar is why you think Trump’s calls for violence to protect his presidency would be limited to only the solitary dimwit or small-time gang when those things *already* exist, and without Trump’s incitement?

              The Oath Keepers are a real thing. So is the patriot community. So are the calls to arm up from establishment institutions like Fox (and not so establishment orgs like Info Wars), and the ramp-up to armed conflict by entities like the NRA. On top of that you’ve got ICE running around acting like Brownshirts breaking down norms of due process. I mean, I’d love for my worry to be misguided, but …Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s hard to operate an AK-47 and a walker at the same time. Also walkie-talkies and tactical radios play Cain with the hearing aids.
                Also Fox News and right wing media have no interest in actual insurrection. If people were out trying to overthrow the existing order they wouldn’t be sitting on their couches watching adds for gold, sleep-number beds and National Review cruises.

                Rioting and insurrectioning is a young poor mans game. There’re some young men on the right who’re poor as well but their numbers don’t really seem to be all that good or they seem pretty unable to muster up that many bodies in meatspace.

                Now if you’re worried about an insurrection on the internet? I’m sure they could muster one of those.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North says:

                Rioting and insurrectioning is a young poor mans game.

                You’re right about the “young” part, but not about the “poor” part. For details, I recommend The True Believer, which examines the causes and properties of “mass movements.”

                It’s not the truly poor who rise up. It’s the “downwardly mobile” middle-class. For us right now, it’s young, restless white guys who can’t figure out women or their careers.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                Gracious, maybe it would be best if those white guys went their own way, stopped caring about womens desires and such.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                It depends on what you mean by “desires.”

                If you mean women’s “desire” for dignity and full participation in society, then I disagree. Men should care about that, inasmuch as everyone should.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                Dignified men seek dignified women, there is a reason they are going their own way.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                The men I’m talking about aren’t dignified.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to veronica d says:

                Well of course.Report

              • North in reply to JoeSal says:

                Well sure but most people don’t just choose to be gay.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                I don’t understand where/the context that statement came from.Report

              • North in reply to JoeSal says:

                A gay man could, if they so chose to, generally be utterly indifferent to the desires of women outside of the niceties of common courtesy and lead a comfortable (though I’d assert slightly impoverished) life. A straight man most assuredly could not since a woman would be very significantly involved in their pursuit of a comfortable fulfilled life. I assumed you were suggesting that men choosing to ignore the desires of women would be going gay? They’re not gonna land a girl that way.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                Ah, ok, i was considering veronicas ‘white guys’ above in the general context of identity pol frame work which on average would be straight if used in a negative way.Report

              • North in reply to JoeSal says:

                Well I’m not straight myself so I am assuming but I would presume that the guys so mentioned would not be very happy with no women involved in their lives which is what one could expect the outcome to be if they stop caring about women’s desires (though I suppose this steals a base in presuming they cared to begin with- the evidence to that point is… weak).Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                I may be straw man-ing a couple layers deep, but from what I’ve seen of the guys moving on, they end up less clingy, or less sensitive and for some reason women want to get involved, which is a really weird dynamic.Report

              • veronica d in reply to JoeSal says:

                I’m pretty sure we’re talking about different groups of men. I’m talking about the dudes who end up neo-nazis and similar. You seem to be talking about men who outgrow their clingy “nice guy” phase. Those are different things.

                You can argue that both groups face similar social pressures. Perhaps. The difference is their response.Report

              • North in reply to JoeSal says:

                Mmm yeah I think the kind of guys I’m thinking of end up as red pill-MRA types on the internet in the mild cases or college campus shooters in the bad cases.Report

              • North in reply to veronica d says:

                A good point.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to North says:

                I don’t think anyone, certainly not me, believes that Trump’s boomer base presents a real threat here. There are many groups who think Trump is an enemy of their enemy, if not an outright ally.

                Add: for example, Bannon’s insight (whether you agree with him or not) was that there are lots of disaffected young white guys ready to burn the place down…Report

              • North in reply to Stillwater says:

                Depends on how one defines “Lots”. Do I think there’re numerically lots of these kinds of guys? Yeah for sure. Do I think there’re demographically or sociologically lots of these guys? Ehhhhh I’m rather dubious.Report

              • veronica d in reply to North says:

                How many brownshirts were there?Report

              • North in reply to veronica d says:

                Enough to help ol’ Adolf take over the German government during a time of massive economic upheaval? Quite a lot. Way more, I suspect, as a percentage of the population than now. Way, way now. They can’t even muster up the bodies to outnumber the anti-right wing protesters when they put on a protest. Hell, they need police protection from those ANTIFA idiots.
                One can argue about if their nazi’s in ideology or inclination but they ain’t Nazi’s in ability, numbers or popularity.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                There are so many of them you have to pay Nigerians to impersonate them.Report

              • InMD in reply to North says:

                There were hundreds of thousands of brownshirts that could be actually mobilized in Weimar Germany and the Nazi party had won something like 20% of the Reichstag through the Weimar political process before the takeover occurred. The American alt-right can’t even consistently get more than 100 people out and degraded as conservatism is we aren’t even close to that situation. Our circumstances aren’t the same and its silly to talk like they are.Report

              • North in reply to InMD says:

                I’m inclined to agree.Report

              • J_A in reply to InMD says:

                Just a relevant historical side comment

                The S.A.’, and other, less structured, brownshirts’, recruitment pool was the millions of, mostly unemployed, demobilized German soldiers, angry both at the old order that brought the war forth, and the new order that (in their eyes) botched the peace.

                After one hundred years, we are still living in the aftermath of World War I. For them, WWI was merely 10 years before.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:


                He’s had some effect (at least plausibly)[1], but it’s been limited, despite the fact that, well, he hasn’t exactly been circumspect about trying to provoke violence.[2] This means that we’d need something beyond Trump’s exhortations to get the kind of organized violence you’re describing.

                [1] The alternative is that the violent criminals are substituting Trump’s provocations for some other

                [2] One premise of my beliefs is that Trump’s rhetoric is already much worse than is commonly acknowledged, so there’s less room for it to get worse.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to pillsy says:

                You seem to think Trump has reached Peak Incitement on his twitter feed. I guess that’s where we disagree. 🙂Report

              • pillsy in reply to Stillwater says:

                Sounds like it.

                I mean, not quite peak incitement, but close enough to it that I’m skeptical amping it up more will actually lead to really widespread or organized violence.

                Not that the stochastic terrorism and fascist street gangs aren’t more than bad enough to condemn him for.Report

      • Jesse in reply to Stillwater says:

        Considering the continued disappearances and deaths of BLM organizers and family members of those organizers, I’d argue we already the purgers, it’s just not being reported.Report

  11. Philip H says:


    My guess is that the Trump admin. intends to use Muthana as a test case for revising the birthright citizenship clause in the constitution, arguing that merely being born in US territory is not sufficient for a citizenship claim.

    While I very much want you to be wrong about this, my nightmare is you are right. We now live in a world where an officer in one of our armed services – after swearing an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic – decided that Democratic politicians and media members are in fact such enemies. He then decided it was his duty to act to eliminate that threat. Makes ultra liberals like me a tad squeamish, though having been born in a western state where rugged individualism is still king I MIGHT be able to put off loosing my citizenship for my political views longer then others.

    While this is sort of tongue in cheek, there is real danger in stripping birthright citizenship from the children of brown skinned immigrants, especially if said stripping is over political or intellectual choices. And I want no part of that nation, thank you very much.

    I also remain unconvinced that the John Walker Lindh case is a real analogue. Lindh when to fight and indeed was capture in active combat by American forces. Best I can tell, Muthana gave both intellectual and . . . marital . . . support to forces fighting generally against American interests in a region of the world we have failed to make better or more peaceful by our armed intervention. Perhaps I’m just feeling too generous, but an American turning literal guns on American soldiers deserves imprisonment (one wonders what will be done when his sentence is over); an American turning her mind and her body against certain narrowly defined American interests maybe not so much.

    The larger issue however the Em glosses right past is all the laws she cites require affiliation with a nation state, and none really get at non-state actors. If ever there was an area of law that would garner bipartisan support I would think it would be that.Report

    • Em Carpenter in reply to Philip H says:

      I “glossed right passed that”? I wrote:
      “The problem with applying these sections to Muthana’s case is that the United States does not now, nor has it ever, recognized ISIS as a foreign state, nor is it the “armed forces” or a “political subdivision” of a foreign state. ISIS is classified as a terrorist organization. While Muthana may have declared her de facto allegiance to ISIS, there is no record or evidence that she has become a naturalized citizen or declared allegiance to a foreign state. Nothing in paragraphs 1-4 of of subsection (a) is applicable. Report

  12. J_A says:

    # 2 every day of the week

    It shouldn’t even be controversial

    Even the gay couple foster parents part shouldn’t be controversial, but probably willReport

  13. George Turner says:

    As US law currently sits, she is probably a US citizen. I’ve read most Supreme Court cases (and some relevant early state court cases) on citizenship, along with lots of English cases. The case that she is a citizen is pretty easy to make, so I’ll put forth an argument that she’s possibly not, based on US and English common law that kept trying to express notions rooted in common sense and practical experience.

    First, I’ll address the idea that she’s given up her citizenship. Murray v The Charming Betsey (1804) the Supreme Court established that a natural born citizen retains citizenship despite swearing allegiance to a foreign power. It’s a fun case that reads like “Pirates of the Caribbean”.

    Subsequent laws and Supreme Court cases have established that she has to jump through a bunch of hoops to renounce her citizenship, as the US government does not have the power to strip a natural born citizen of citizenship, since the government is wholly a creation of natural born citizens. Those born here can strip the government of power, while the government they created cannot strip them of rights due them as natives of this land. Naturalized citizens are another matter, as that is a citizenship granted by Congress, which retains the power to undo its actions.

    Even fighting for a foreign hostile power, in itself, doesn’t revoke citizenship. I read an interesting bio by an American citizen born in New Jersey who became a highly decorated and thrice wounded Panzer crewman on the eastern front before being assigned to guard der Fuhrer at the Wolf’s Den. He was captured by US forces, and a year after the war ended moved to New York to try and find work, as the German economy wasn’t doing so well. He wasn’t having much luck on the job search, since he was competing with the massive influx of returning GI’s, so someone suggested he join the US army. He went down to the recruiting office and started filling at the paperwork, and the application asked if he’d ever served in a foreign army. He explained his situation to the recruiting sergeant, who told him not to worry about it. So he became a US Army officer, finished his education, ascended through military and civil service, eventually retiring as chief geologist for White Sands missile range.

    In another incident, an American fighter pilot defected to Germany in his P-38 Lightning, joined the SS, and was captured in SS uniform. After straightening that out to someone’s satisfaction, he rejoined the US Air Force and worked for some years before the FBI knocked on his door and sent him off to prison for the obvious faux pas of not only defecting to enemy forces, but doing so in a US fighter aircraft entrusted to him.

    Natural born US citizenship is very hard to give up, and the procedure of renouncing citizenship is a long, drawn out process, as anyone who has moved abroad to avoid US taxes can attest. We make it nearly impossible. If she had any income from ISIS and hasn’t paid US taxes on it, the IRS is perhaps going to be a bigger issue for her than Mike Pompeo.

    It doesn’t matter if she joined a foreign terrorist organization. It wouldn’t matter if she fought directly against US forces. It wouldn’t matter if she led an attack against a US military base on US soil. Thousands of Americans did just that at Fort Sumter, and hundreds of thousands fought directly against the US government, declaring themselves citizens of a foreign country, and yet not a one managed to lose their US citizenship over it. They didn’t even get tried for treason. She’s from Alabama. They’ve been known to do that.

    So my second focus is on whether she was born as a US citizen, and that’s where the notions and experiences embodied in common law come in to play.

    The idea that diplomats have diplomatic immunity and that their children are thus natural born to the country their parents represent is a notion so old that even Blackstone couldn’t figure out when it started, saying it’s lost in the mists of history. Early American legal scholars like Kent and St. George Tucker concur, and have slightly different ways of describing diplomatic status. In one, we indulge a legal fiction whereby the diplomat never really leaves his home country. In another, the diplomat’s home country somehow travels with him.

    His children born abroad are thus shielded from the sovereignty of the foreign king, who otherwise would hold their potentially absolute power over a diplomat’s children, and thus compromise the diplomat. Rulers and diplomats probably figured this out sometime in the neolithic period, and anyone who’s read literature should intuitively understand the ancient game we’re playing, and why.

    Given all that, there are some obvious questions and concepts involved in her birth status that probably aren’t properly or correctly expressed in statute or US case law, and perhaps a court should delve into the questions and hopefully provide clarifications, akin to US v Wong Kim Ark, where the justices dig down into the history and fundamental principles, cases, and concepts to produce a clear opinion that gets to the heart of the matter.

    And the heart of my question about her status is this. Just because a diplomat is replaced doesn’t mean they lose their diplomatic status based on the date on the termination letter.

    Example: King Charles sends a new diplomat to Russia to replace a man who’s served in that capacity for many years. It takes the new diplomat a month to wrap up his affairs in London, and four months to complete the journey by wagon to Moscow, where he hands a letter with the King’s seal to the sitting English ambassador, informing him of the change.

    That sitting ambassador’s wife is heavily pregnant and will deliver in Moscow because the dirt road back is no place to have a baby. Is she still protected by diplomatic immunity even though her husband has been replaced? Of course she is. Her husband was a diplomat and although he’s been replaced, he’s still on his diplomatic mission which includes travel. He remains a diplomat until he touches home soil. As Blackstone says, it’s as if his country travels with him. That travel includes the return trip. The FBI can’t arrest foreign diplomats, even the suddenly former diplomats hopping on a return flight at JFK. The intuitive “Game of Thrones” rules still say that diplomatic status doesn’t immediately end.

    Though that concept can be used to argue that the person in this case is not necessarily a US citizen, it would depend on even more facts of the case. The former Russian ambassador might have made lots of contacts in Moscow. He might decide to retire there, or hang on as some sort of adviser to the Czar, or open an import/export business. He doesn’t necessarily have to return home, yet he can’t retain his diplomat status in perpetuity.

    So we need to know lots more details about what the woman’s parents were doing after he stopped being Yemen’s ambassador, and what their intentions were. Were they just wrapping up some personal details before returning home, perhaps even hanging around just so his wife could deliver in really nice, safe, Washington or New York hospital? Or were they settling into a new life in the US? And importantly, is their any clear evidence of their intentions?

    This would all have to be fleshed out and examined, both on the facts, the law, and the principles, and we have a process for doing exactly that in a court room. Trump and Pompeo are outside their authority, since technically they’re both answerable to and employed by a natural born US citizen sitting in a Syrian refugee camp, and natural born US citizens did not grant the government the power to strip them of citizenship. The government can jail her, kill her with a drone strike, or have her shot as an illegal enemy combatant, but they can’t strip her of US citizenship if that citizenship was not granted by an act of Congress. Only two parties can do that. Either her, through a clearly expressed renouncement of citizenship, and even then only once we consent to allow her to give it up, or through a court ruling that finds she was never a US citizen in the first place due to the peculiar circumstances of her birth.Report

    • Em Carpenter in reply to George Turner says:

      The government can jail her, kill her with a drone strike, or have her shot as an illegal enemy combatant, but they can’t strip her of US citizenship if that citizenship was not granted by an act of Congress.

      How do you square that with this federal law (as set forth in the post):

      (a) A person who is a national of the United States whether by birth or naturalization, shall lose his nationality by voluntarily performing any of the following acts with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality—

      (7) committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States, violating or conspiring to violate any of the provisions of section 2383 of title 18, or willfully performing any act in violation of section 2385 of title 18, or violating section 2384 of title 18 by engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, if and when he is convicted thereof by a court martial or by a court of competent jurisdiction.

      Obviously, she has not been convicted, but if she was, then she can lose her citizenship. I guess the question of fact that would have to be determined is whether or not she committed those acts “with the intention of relinquishing United States nationality”. If I were the prosecutor I’d pull out that photo she tweeted of her passport with the caption saying she wouldn’t be needing it anymore. I think a strong case can be made of what her intentions were.

      As to the rest about when diplomatic immunity ends, today is the first I had heard about some peculiarities in UN rules regarding when diplomatic status really ends. I’m looking forward to learning more about that aspect of this case. As for what her parents’ intentions were, they became nationalized fairly quickly after his post ended and have lived here ever since.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        A citizen by birth is not the same as a natural born citizen, though sometimes statues muddy the waters and remove the inherent clarity in what the Supreme Court has held. A citizen by birth is a term that also includes jus sanguinis, right of blood, which are children born abroad to US parents and recognized as US citizens through an act of Congress and the US State Department. For quite some time in early American history they weren’t recognized at all, and that recognition is, even today, quite conditional.

        For example, if an American male has a child overseas by a woman not his wife, he has to provide reams of documentation and testify that he will raise the child, has money to raise the child, swears the child is his, and nowadays probably has to prove the child is his. Children of US servicemen abroad are virtually out of luck. There are probably over a hundred thousand descendants of those fathered by US occupation troops in Germany after the war, and none of them have any legal recognition of US citizenship. The US Army told the German moms that they shouldn’t even bother trying to file paperwork, their kids were Germans, not Americans.

        Some parts of the government like to pretend that US citizens at birth, specifically children born overseas to at least one US parent, or adopted by US parents, are natives, but as far as the common law and the US Constitution would have it, they are aliens who must be naturalized. So our early immigration laws made provisions to naturalize them at birth, which is the origin of the term “US citizens at birth”. They then require a Certificate of Citizenship supplied by the US State Department. Natural born citizens can’t get one of those. All we get is a US birth certificate.

        Interestingly, there is no legal distinction between alien infants adopted by US parents overseas and children born overseas to US parents. Both are classed as citizens at birth.

        As Blackstone put it, there are only three types of people. Natural born subjects, those born within the king’s dominions and under his protection, denizens, who are in between an alien and a native born subject, and aliens, who are all else. Naturalization is the process by which aliens are made like natural born subjects in almost all respects, except that we never fully trust them. They can never serve on the Privy Council and in the US, they can never be President. Children born abroad to British subjects who weren’t diplomats (or royalty) were eventually made naturalized citizens through acts of Parliament, but their legal status was the same as any other naturalized alien.

        We hardly ever discuss denizens anymore, even though we’re now up to our eyeballs in them. In England, only parliament could naturalize aliens, and the king’s corresponding power was of denization. He would grant a letter of denization that would confer special status to an alien or groups of aliens, and that status usually included higher tax rates and never included the right to vote. Many Jewish merchants in England were denizens, not subjects, though their children born in England were natural born subjects. Early Jews in the American colonies were likewise denizens.

        The American colonies eventually relied on denization as a way around Parliament’s control of naturalization, especially after Parliament got upset that we’d been naturalizing subjects without their approval, usurping one of their fundamental powers. St George Tucker in 1803 argued that states retain the sole power of denization because they’d exercised it under the Articles of Confederation, didn’t cede the power to the federal government under the Constitution, and thus must retain it. But state’s stopped using the power under the Constitution because the focus was on making citizens, and then everybody forgot about it entirely. Handing out drivers licenses and special deferred status to illegal aliens is actually an act of denization, the official granting of a status that is in between that of a citizen and an alien. If St. George Tucker is correct, only the states retain the power to do that. I hope California lawyers never figure this out.Report

      • PD Shaw in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        Why can’t she be detained as an enemy combatant, citizen or not, pursuant to Hamdi v. Rumsfeld? Hamdi was detained and released only on the condition that he renounce his citizenship and leave the country.

        (George Turner’s comment is too long for me to read, so I don’t know if this is the point he’s making or not)Report

        • veronica d in reply to PD Shaw says:

          Is there any reason to call her a “combatant”? That seems like a stretch.Report

          • PD Shaw in reply to veronica d says:

            That would be the question. The OP refers to her as having joined with the enemy, perhaps levying war. That seems enough to raise a question. Mary Surratt was hung by a military tribunal for giving aid to the Lincoln assassins by providing a meeting place.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Em Carpenter says:

        Gabriel Malor tweeted some crucial information from her father’s lawsuit.

        Her father’s side of the story is this:

        “According to the suit, Muthana’s father was a diplomat for Yemen at the United Nations in New York, but he turned in his diplomatic card in June 1994. The family has produced documents that appear to show Hoda Muthana was born on Oct. 28, 1994, in New Jersey, and at that time Ahmed Ali Muthana and his wife had applied for and been granted permanent resident status in the U.S. Therefore, the suit argues, Hoda Muthana would be a citizen at birth.”

        But from another document comes this:

        “42. As a matter of law, Mr. Muthana’s termination from his diplomatic position no later than September 1, 1994 and his subsequent decision to remain in the United States within a reasonable period of time terminated his diplomatic immunity and therefore that as to his family, subjecting both he and his family members to the jurisdiction of the United States at the time of Mrs. Muthana’s birth.

        43. Where an individual was born in the United States, and is therefore an American citizen, “neither the Congress, nor the Executive, nor the judiciary, nor all three can strip away that right. Mitsugi Nishikawa v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 129, 138, 78 S. ct. 612, 618, 2 L. Ed. 2d 659 (1958)

        44. Accordingly, the decision by the Secretary of the Department of State and President Trump to unilaterally declare Hoda Muthana no longer a citizen of the United States is unconstitutional, and therefore impermissible.

        But it also has this very important detail:

        25. On January 15, 2016 [ed. under the Obama Administration], the United States issued a letter addressed to Ms. Muthana at her parents’ residence, purporting to revoke her passport under 22 C.F.R. 51.7 and 51.66. Exhibit D. In the revocation letter, the government again acknowledged that her father’s diplomatic position ended on September 1, 1994, but now asserted for the first time that because the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Host Country Affairs Section, had not been officially notified of his termination until February 6, 1995, she was not “within the jurisdiction of the United States” at the time of her birth, and therefore not a United States citizen pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.

        It seems that her father still retained his diplomatic status, and from another comment it seems he was still here on his diplomatic visa.Report

  14. Damon says:

    There’s an easy fix that makes this all moot
    She’s currently being held. All we need do is have someone make a phone call and suggest that her captors take her out, put her against a wall, and shoot her, like they do other captives.

    Problem Solved.Report

  15. Michael Drew says:

    Sort of along with George Turner, I’ve been wondering if it’s so clear that the moment a person whose initial reason to be here was to be a diplomat is discharged by her country’s foreign service, any children she gives birth to after the moment of discharge but while she is still in the country are citizens.

    It’s actually not so much that I’m wondering about the substance of that, but rather I wonder what exactly the administration’s claim is/will be. Did they initially claim she was not a citizen based on the diplomatic status of her father, but they were not aware his status had ended shortly before she was born, and are now stuck without a clear argument? Or did they know that and are arguing something along the lines of what George lays out? Or are they going down the path of a broader challenge to birthright citizenship as Stillwater surmises? Orrrr, will they switch to the argument that she destroyed her citizenship by joining ISIS, apparently in ignorance of Em’s tidy dismantling thereof? Or will they drop the claim that she is not a citizen altogether? It pretty much has to be one of those, and they’re all… a little awkward.

    As to an outcome, my preference would be that she be accepted as a citizen based on birthright citizenship, be tried under relevant statutes, and if convicted serve a short suspended sentence that after a brief time in a correctional facility is quickly converted to extensive public service to be completed in the form of travel to campuses, schools, and other youth institutions around the country where she will tell her story, talk about how she fell under the persuasion of this cult, what her experience was like, how the decision harmed her life, what she’s learned from the experience, and why it was such a terrible mistake. This is a story that some number of young people in America apparently need to hear. We should require her to tell it. If she can’t be convicted for any reason (a very plausible possibility, I would want our government to appeal to her to choose to do it on her own, perhaps in exchange for conceding the question of her citizenship or on any other basis.Report

  16. George Turner says:

    It turns out that her father waited until February of 1995 to notify the government that he was no longer a diplomat for Yemen (as of September 1994). His daughter was born in October of 1994, but he was still on his diplomatic visa and not subject to US jurisdiction until he made the proper notifications many months later.Report