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A dual citizen's defense

A Times reader takes exception to Peter Schuck's Op-Ed on duel citizenship and Al Qaeda's recruitment tactics.

February 23, 2013
  • Anwar Awlaki died in a drone strike in Yemen.
Anwar Awlaki died in a drone strike in Yemen. (Associated Press )

Tujunga resident Zareh Delanchian took issue with Yale Law School professor Peter Schuck's discussion of dual citizenship and Al Qaeda recruitment in his Feb. 17 Op-Ed article on drone strikes and due process.

Delanchian wrote:

"I am a dual citizen of the United States and Britain but have lived in America most of my life. I want to thank Schuck for warning me that I could be more easily swayed by terrorists. In fact, I love America and its way of life, but maybe there is some kind of switch in my head that may activate my desire to kill.

"Schuck actually wrote this sentence: 'But there remains a darker side to dual citizenship.' Now, I might believe him if he actually offered up some empirical evidence that dual citizens are more likely to become enemies of the U.S. But it's just an irrelevant and paranoid point in a broader discussion of how constitutional rights apply to American citizens targeted by drones."

Peter Schuck responds:

Delanchian has overreacted. He's read my piece as if I questioned any dual citizen's loyalty. To the contrary, I could hardly have been clearer that despite almost universal opposition to dual citizenship in the past, it has increased "mostly for good reasons," it has "legitimate causes" and "in practice, it causes little harm."

I noted that "some dual citizens who spend most of their lives abroad now have only notional ties to the United States rather than a genuine communal or emotional connection." Note the word "some"; would anyone deny that "some" meet this description?

I then suggested that Al Qaeda is more likely to seek to recruit from this group than from dual citizens who have spent most of their lives in the U.S. and who do feel those communal and emotional ties to our country. Given the advantages of carrying a U.S. passport, would anyone deny the logic of such a recruiting tactic? If you were an Al Qaeda tactician seeking to harm America, wouldn't you give attention to this group?

I also limited my concern to the vanishingly small subset of dual citizens who meet four very unusual conditions: First, there must be hard, actionable intelligence of their participation in a plot to kill Americans; second, the citizenship of potential targets is really in name only; third, they refuse to return to the U.S. to stand trial; and fourth, their capture would present too great a risk.

The "darker side to dual citizenship" to which I referred is this subset, which is limited to one individual — Anwar Awlaki.

I did not suggest, nor do I believe, that dual citizens as a group could be more easily swayed by terrorists than other people could. Delanchian says that my discussion of dual citizenship and due process is paranoid. I submit that this more accurately describes his reaction to my piece.

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