Legislation to strip U.S. citizenship from people who support hostilities against the United States has been introduced in Congress.

The bill is a response to the Sept. 30 killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born al Qaeda operative who helped recruit terrorists. Al-Awlaki's death in Yemen has led to a debate about whether the U.S. had the right to set up any operation aimed at killing a U.S. citizen.

The legislation, introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) in the Senate and Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) in the House, would resolve that issue in future cases by revoking the citizenship of anyone who engages in hostilities against the U.S., or who purposefully and materially supports hostilities against the U.S.


"The repeated attempts by the now-deceased al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki to recruit other American citizens to strike our homeland demonstrates the necessity of updating our laws to account for an enemy who would subvert our freedoms to attack us," Lieberman said. "This bill would establish in law a fact that all Americans already know — when an American citizen joins wartime hostilities against the United States, he is also renouncing his citizenship and should not be able to use an American passport as a tool of terror or a shield of self-protection.

"This bill modernizes the process by which the citizenship status of an individual engaged in hostiles against the American people is examined by treating terrorists in the same manner as a U.S citizen who marched with the Third Reich, Imperial Japan or the forces of Saddam Hussein," added Dent.

Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who co-sponsored the Senate bill, cited another recent case involving Rezwan Ferdaus, who was stockpiling weapons in Massachusetts in preparation for an attack against Washington, D.C. Brown said the bill, S. 1698, would strip these terrorists of "the right to call themselves Americans."

The House bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.).