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  • Update: Civil Rights and Religious Groups Denounce TN Bill Targeting Sharia Groups
    or faith law changes that said 7 Rev Dan Rosemergy with the Interfaith Alliance The bill defines Sharia organizations as two 2 or more persons conspiring to support or acting in concert in support of sharia or in furtherance of the imposition of sharia within any state or territory of the United States Anyone who provides support to a designated sharia organization could have their assets frozen indefinitely and face up to 15 years in jail The bill defines sharia as the set of rules precepts instructions or edicts which are said to emanate directly or indirectly from the god of Allah or the prophet Mohammed and which include directly or indirectly the encouragement of any person to support the abrogation destruction or violation of the United States or Tennessee Constitutions or the destruction of the national existence of the United States or the sovereignty of this state and which includes among other methods to achieve these ends the likely use of imminent violence At the press conference opponents of the bill described its scope as excessively broad and vague Sharia law is how I know how to fast in the month of Ramadan how I wash before my prayers said 8 Nadeem Siddiqui It also directs me in how much charity I need to give to the poor It orders me to be honest and fair in my business dealings The legislation would have to clear legislative committees and win the support of both chambers and the governor before becoming law Charles Haynes a legal expert at the First Amendment Center said 9 that if the bill were to pass it was unlikely to hold up to judicial scrutiny The legislation would clearly be unconstitutional he said Trying to separate out different parts of Islamic law for condemnation is

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/522 (2016-02-16)
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  • Nationwide Conferences Spotlight Threats to Political Activism
    York 5 and Chapel Hill 6 click on the city to view its conference report From the time the FBI first knocked on my door it was clear that this was all about our ideas and political beliefs said 3 Jess Sundin an activist whose home was raided in September and spoke at the conference held in Chicago They were after flyers address books and information about political events Topics discussed at the conferences included The adverse impact of the Supreme Court decision in Holder vs Humanitarian Law Project 7 on international activism 8 The breadth of the Patriot Act powers 9 and rampant FBI violations 10 of the law between 2001 2008 How the material support of terrorism laws are being used to attack activists 11 for their First and Fourth amendment activities Infiltration 12 of an anti war group in Minneapolis by government agent posing as an anti war activist The Committee to Stop FBI Repression was formed after 14 activists in Minnesota Illinois and Michigan were ordered to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago after the government raided 13 some of their offices and homes Another nine activists in Chicago were subpoenaed in December All 23 have refused to testify According to the FBI the raids were conducted to collect evidence in support of an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism No arrests were made Source URL http www charityandsecurity org news Nationwide Conferences Spotlight Threats Political Activism Links 1 http www charityandsecurity org news Nationwide Conferences Spotlight Threats Political Activism 2 http www charityandsecurity org news Searches FBI Anti War Activists 3 http www workers org 2011 us stop fbi repression 0224 4 http www fightbacknews org 2011 2 21 west coast conference opposes criminalization anti

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/513 (2016-02-16)
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  • To Michael Mukasey, Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge and Frances Townsend: Welcome to our World!
    support statute expressly provides that one cannot defend one s support of a designated group by challenging the propriety of the designation in court It goes on to note that the Bush administration defended this provision successfully in a case involving the MEK U S v Afshari 427 F 3d 646 9th Cir 2005 The four MEK advocates National Review op ed argues that they did not act under the direction or control of MEK and therefore cannot be considered to have provided MEK with personnel If only it were that simple The CBSNews Political Hotsheet 5 notes the flaw in this analysis saying Yet it s not clear that the efforts of the Giuliani and the others constituted acting entirely independently particularly since as Gawker notes the Supreme Court has deemed advocacy performed in coordination with or at the direction of a foreign terrorist organization a crime Seeing as Giuliani and the others were speaking at French Committee for a Democratic Iran which was reportedly formed to support the MEK the case could be made that they were acting in coordination with the group Up until June 2010 reasonable minds could differ about what the material support law meant But after the Supreme Court ruling in the Humanitarian Law Project case 6 upheld its application to peacebuilding activities there is no doubt As salon com commentator Glen Greenwald noted in a post on this topic 7 There are people sitting in prison right now with extremely long prison sentences for so called material support for terrorism who did little different than what these right wing advocates just did 8 The four conservative MEK supporters are right to be concerned about flaws in the listing and de listing process U S nonprofit organizations have been struggling with these issues for

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/486 (2016-02-16)
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  • Brief Argues Material Support Conviction Should Require Knowledge of Terror Connection
    to Hamas 2 In the criminal trial the government acknowledged that all HLF s funds went for aid through charities that are not on government lists but that the donations violated the material support law because HLF s local partner charities zakat committees were controlled by Hamas On Oct 22 2007 one HLF leader was acquitted and the jury deadlocked on the remaining 197 charges In the retrial prosecutors dropped charges from 197 counts to 108 counts and a new judge presided In November 2008 the HLF leaders were found guilty 4 and were subsequently sentenced to long prison terms 5 The Problem of Unlisted Groups During the second trial Robert McBrien from Treasury s Office of Foreign Assets Control a new witness told the jury that designation of the zakat committees to a government list of proscribed groups is not necessary for donations to be prohibited He said that keeping up with front groups is a task beyond the wise use of resources Instead he said Treasury targets umbrella groups He did not explain Treasury s continuing failure to designate these groups According to AlterNet 6 the same zakat committees have received aid from the International Red Cross and the U S Agency for International Development Trial Court s Jury Instructions No Knowledge Requirement Under the trial court s instructions to the jury it could convict if it found that a defendant knowingly provided support to a local zakat committee even though the zakat committee was not designated if it found that the zakat committee was controlled by Hamas However the jury was not required to find that the defendants knew that fact or even should have known that fact This instruction exceeded the proposed instruction from the prosecution which would have required the defendant knowingly provided or attempted to provide the material support alleged emphasis added Friend of the Court Brief Argues Due Process Demands Knowledge Requirement The organizations filing the friend of the court brief argue that before a group can be convicted of material support of terrorism the law requires proof it had knowledge an unlisted foreign charity is controlled by a listed terrorist group Instead the trial judge relied upon an erroneous and dangerously expansive interpretation of the material support statute That interpretation if upheld on appeal would jeopardize the legitimate work of countless foundations and charities throughout the U S It would mean that a charity or foundation could be prosecuted under the material support statue even if it exercised rigorous due diligence that ensured that it did not support any entity on the government s list of designated organizations It goes on to argue that the judge s jury charge violates fundamental due process principles requiring fair notice of what conduct is prohibited as well as the plain meaning of the statute The brief says the trial court s jury charge turned an already expansive statute into a trap that can catch donors unawares exposing them to criminal prosecution even where they have

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/454 (2016-02-16)
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  • Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument To Decide if Parts of Patriot Act Violate First Amendment
    a terrorist group by the United States government However the material support statute not only prohibits providing money and weapons to these groups but denies U S organizations from providing 4 training personnel service and expert advice or assistance including advice on facilitating peacebuilding programs or making human rights claims at the United Nations Cole represents individuals and groups who want to advise designated groups about nonviolent approaches to resolving their political grievances One of the groups Cole represents the Humanitarian Law Project is a U S nonprofit with a mission to advocate for the peaceful resolution of armed conflicts and for worldwide compliance with humanitarian law and human rights law They sought to advise the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK about advocating their agenda before the U N Commission on Human Rights and conducting 5 advisory sessions and public awareness campaigns But because the PKK is a designated terrorist group the material support statute of the Patriot Act makes these actions criminal Ambiguous Law Throughout the oral argument justices raised questions about whether a distinction can be drawn among different types of support that individuals provide to terrorist organizations Chief Justice John G Roberts Jr said 6 at least one part of the law banning expert advice seemed vague to him I don t know sitting down that I could tell he said whether advice about peaceful advocacy was covered by the material support statute Justice Sonia Sotomayor said 7 the law is so broadly written that almost anything can be included in the category of training Under the definition of this statute teaching these members to play the harmonica would be unlawful she said Trying to understand what was permissible under the law Justice Stephen Breyer said 5 petitioning the United Nations does not on its face seem to me to be something that reasonably you would think was going to aid designated groups in their unlawful objectives 5 Chilling Effect on Humanitarian Aid The restrictions created by material support statute have also hampered delivering humanitarian aid to people trapped in areas controlled by a designated group during or after a natural disaster or armed conflict See Legal Roadblocks for U S Famine Relief to Somalia Creating Humanitarian Crisis 8 Justice Anthony Kennedy conveyed this concern when he asked 5 U S Solicitor General Elena Kagan could the government forbid any organization or person from giving tsunami aid to one of these organizations referring to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also expressed reservations 9 about the law s negative impact on humanitarian aid activities saying she did not understand the line between lawful and unlawful efforts adding all HLP want to do is speak about lawful activities Kagan Membership Yes Peacebuilding No Countering Cole s argument that his clients First Amendment rights had been violated Kagan said the Petitioners supposed First Amendment claims really are not speech claims at all 34 Kagan also said in addition to engaging in independent advocacy Petitioners can meet with

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/291 (2016-02-16)
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  • Supreme Court to Consider Whether Definition of Prohibited Material Support Too Vague | Charity & Security Network
    the knowing provision of any service training or expert advice or assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization is unconstitutionally vague Whether the criminal prohibitions in 18 U S C 2339B a 1 on the provision of expert advice or assistance derived from scientific or technical knowledge and personnel are unconstitutional with respect to speech that furthers only lawful nonviolent activities of proscribed organizations In June the Department of Justice DOJ asked the court to consider a ruling of Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that invalidated the definitions of training expert advice or assistance derived from specialized knowledge and service are unconstitutionally vague It upheld the definitions of personnel and expert advice or assistance derived from scientific of technical knowledge HLP opposed Supreme Court review but also filed a cross petition asking that the court consider all contested terms if it accepts that case The Supreme Court announcement granted that request and consolidated the cases HLP is represented by lawyers from the Center for Constitutional Rights which issued a press release with CCR board member and Georgetown Universtity Law Center professor David Cole saying The material support law resurrects guilt by association and makes it a crime for a human rights group in the U S to provide human rights training We don t make the country safer by criminalizing those who advocate nonviolent means for resolving disputes The Supreme Court should make clear that only those who intend to further the illegal ends of an organization can be punished DOJ argues that the current definition of material support is a vital part of the nation s efforts to fight international terrorism Its petition to the Supreme Court said the law has been used in 120 prosecutions since 2001 resulting in 60 convictions HLP s reply brief said the government

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/news/Supreme_Court_Consider_Definition_Prohibited_Material_Support_Vague (2016-02-16)
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  • Initial Supreme Court Briefs Filed in Humanitarian Law Project Case
    behalf of HLP a human rights group and other plaintiffs the Center for Constitutional Rights CCR claims the law making speech advocating nonviolent activity a crime violates the First Amendment s protection of free speech In CCR s press release 3 David Cole an attorney representing HLP spoke about the statute that makes peaceful conflict resolution a crime This statute is so sweeping that it treats human rights advocates as criminal terrorists and threatens them with 15 years in prison for advocating nonviolent means to resolve disputes In our view the First Amendment does not permit the government to make advocating human rights or other lawful peaceable activity a crime simply because it is done for the benefit of or in conjunction with a group the Secretary of State has blacklisted The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief 4 on behalf of several organizations focused on conflict analysis and human rights groups including the Carter Center Grassroots International and Human Rights Watch The introduction of the brief states Plaintiffs seek to engage in pure political speech promoting lawful nonviolent activity Specifically they would like to resume what they were doing before the statutory prohibitions at issue here were triggered teaching and advocating the use of international law and other nonviolent means to reduce conflict advance human rights and promote peace Additional friend of the court briefs Brief from the Constitution Project and Rutherford Institute 5 Brief from the Victims of the McCarthy Era 6 Brief from Academic Researchers and the Citizen Media Law Project 7 Brief from the Anti Defamation League 8 supports the government s position More detailed summaries and analysis of the briefs will be posted on the Charity and Security Network website Source URL http www charityandsecurity org news Initial Supreme Court Briefs Filed HLP

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/252 (2016-02-16)
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  • Time to Update Bush's EO 13224
    IEEPA For example it bars transactions with anyone associated with terrorists and allows assets to be frozen pending investigation These unchecked powers have created fundamental fairness problems that have lead two federal courts to declare them unconstitutional as applied to charities But the most significant problem is the power to bar humanitarian aid A large part of the problem with using EO 13224 and IEEPA to ensure charitable resources are not diverted to terrorist organizations is that as an embargo law IEEPA focuses only on transactions not on end use or intentions As a result the law prohibits any transaction with an SDGT or anyone associated with it even if the transaction is for the purpose of delivering life saving disaster relief or working to turn terrorists away from use of violence to address their grievances President Bush could have avoided this situation by allowing the humanitarian exemption in IEEPA to remain in force Instead he found providing such aid threatens our safety But what threat do humanitarian aid and the charities that deliver it pose to the American people To our troops Does this barrier fuel the antagonism toward the US that helps terrorist recruitment Does the entire concept of withholding aid violate human rights We now have eight years of experience and information to assess the current pros and cons of EO 13224 and consider what is appropriate for the long term We know the following Treasury s broad brush accusations to the contrary there is no proof that charities especially US charities are a significant source of terrorist support either tangible or intangible EO 13224 and Treasury s implementation policies have created significant barriers to legitimate charitable development health education human rights and conflict resolution programs The ultimate contradiction is illustrated by the facts of a case now pending before the Supreme Court Holder v Humanitarian Law Project In that case a U S charity wants to provide human rights and non violent conflict resolution training to two organizations listed as SDGTs The US government has fought their efforts in the courts for years without ever explaining how programs aimed at reducing violence present a danger to the US In the 21st century world battlefields and combatants are not always clearly defined by boundaries and uniforms The humanitarian imperative enshrined in the Geneva Conventions demands that we find a way to allow for care of civilians in conflict zones whether or not there is an official war going on EO 13224 and the embargo based strategy do not fit this new reality Humanitarian aid provided in conflict zones does not automatically free up resources for the local branch of a SDGT to spend on weapons and explosives This unproven myth has found its way into judicial opinions and the Congressional record without ever being subjected to evidence based analysis It should not guide our actions in the future without serious and honest scrutiny In many ways Treasury s Office of Foreign Assets Control OFAC has bungled the

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/229 (2016-02-16)
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