As a rule, I try to write about opportunities rather than threats. Nobody needs to be reminded how bad things are out there, but everyone is eager to hear what can be done about it.
Sometimes, however, a new threat to our liberties is so outrageous that I must break my optimistic rule. After all, it’s not as if the mainstream press is reporting these things. They’re more interested in the latest intentional gaffe from presidential candidates with bad hairdos.
So it is with legislation currently before Congress, which threatens to make you a prisoner in the United States of America … a sentence that could be delivered with no trial. Hardly anyone is talking about this, but it’s a direct threat to your personal freedom.
It’s this threat that shows you the importance of a second passport…
A History of Tightening Restrictions on Freedom
Current events — and Congress — are proving the importance of a second passport to your personal liberty.
A law currently before Congress could strip you of your right to a U.S. passport, purely on the say-so of invisible bureaucrats. This reverses centuries of Western legal tradition.
In 1215, King John of England formally agreed with his subjects that “It shall be lawful to any person, for the future, to go out of our kingdom, and to return, safely and securely, by land or by water, saving his allegiance to us.” Today, Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Although this principle, called “freedom of movement,” wasn’t applied uniformly — medieval serfs, for example, were locked in place — until World War I, most Europeans could travel freely between jurisdictions without hindrance. Sometimes paperwork was involved, usually in the form of a “letter of protection” to a traveler from his sovereign, but it wasn’t a requirement. Modern passports only emerged in the 1920s.
Ironically, given recent developments, one place where bureaucratic permission to travel was required was the medieval Islamic Caliphate. Only people who paid zakah (for Muslims) or jizya (for non-Muslims) taxes were permitted to travel. That made the bara’a, a tax receipt, a de facto passport, contingent on tax compliance.
Trapped in the Land of the Unfree
Last August, my father, Bob Bauman, wrote: “I suspect most Americans think they are entitled to a U.S. passport as a matter of right. But when I turn to page six of my passport it states: ‘U.S. Government Property … Upon demand made by any authorized representative of the U.S. Government, it must be surrendered.’”
Indeed, under current law your passport can be revoked if a federal or state court has ordered you not to leave the U.S.; if another country has requested your extradition; or if you owe more than $2,500 in delinquent child support payments. Now, two additional reasons are in the offing:
- A bill before the U.S. House would give the Secretary of State the authority to cancel your passport if he decided that you had “aided” an organization that he rules is “terrorist.” There are no definitions of any of these terms, no trial and no recourse. In fact, any evidence used to strip you of your passport will be classified as secret.
- A second bill would authorize the government to deny or confiscate a passport when an individual has more than $50,000 of unpaid federal taxes which the IRS is collecting through enforcement action. That includes amounts that may be under formal dispute.
These attacks on your freedom of movement are fully bipartisan. Sponsors of these or similar bills include Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
“Ain’t But One Way Out”
I’m not sure which is more threatening — a secret bureaucrat adjudging me a “terrorist” or being refused permission to travel while I challenge an IRS tax assessment. Neither has any place in a modern democratic society. They are the hallmarks of medieval or totalitarian thinking.
Having a single passport has long been the norm. That’s the front door option. But many U.S. citizens don’t even have one. Given the direction things are heading, however, the importance of a second passport has skyrocketed. That’s your window. Time to raise it.
Offshore and Asset Protection Editor