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  • Sen. Leahy Letter to AG Holder and Sec. State Clinton: Concerns About Famine Relief, Peacebuilding and the Material Support Law
    Attorney General Eric Holder 2 expressing deep concern that the current interpretation of the law governing material support for terrorism is prohibiting organizations from delivering essential humanitarian relief in the Horn of Africa The letter also expressed concern that peacebuilding groups are unduly constricted in their efforts The letter urges Holder and Clinton to facilitate a dialog between the administration and affected organization to produce a set of guidelines that remove the uncertainty with the scope of the material support law and the establishment of a process by which actors may seek exemptions Leahy notes that relief organizations are desperately trying to meet the need for food and medical care in the Horn of Africa but that fear their staff could be prosecuted if aid some aid unintentionally is diverted to al Shabaab a listed terrorist organization While acknowledging that the State Department took steps to address these concerns Leahy notes that the Department declined to explain publicly what those steps include He urges State to grant exemptions to relief organizations focused on this crisis The letter closes by noting that the humanitarian needs of the world and the security of the United States are both served by enabling non

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/618 (2016-02-16)
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  • Send by email | Charity & Security Network
    be generated Not case sensitive Switch to audio verification Home page Issues Humanitarian Access Material Support Financial Action Task Force FATF Financial Access Peacebuilding Countering Violent Extremism Click Here For More Issues Solutions Principles to Guide Solutions Models to Draw On Proposed Solutions News The latest headlines Resources Litigation Analysis Background Legislation Studies Reports Experts Blog About Us Staff Contact Search form Search Stay Up To Date Subscribe Publications The

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/printmail/618 (2016-02-16)
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  • Two Law Review Articles Criticize Impact of Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project
    of Terrorism 2 by Wadie E Said criticizes the Court for upholding the government s ban on material support of terrorism even when the support is intended for humanitarian assistance or peacebuilding The government argued in the case that terrorist organizations are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates terrorism However the author notes a troubling lack of evidence for this concept only an affidavit from a State Department official a book from a former Treasury Department Official and an amicus brief are cited The author concludes that because of the decision now expressions of solidarity such as working within a group for peaceful change are not allowed The Supreme Court Material Support and the Lasting Impact of Holder v Humanitarian Law Project 3 by Robert Chesney argues that the scope of Holder v HLP is limited and decides relatively little with respect to close cases that may arise in the future The author warns however that the mere prospect of prosecution under the material support statute can have a substantial impact on civil society and advocacy groups An overview of the Holder v HLP case can be found here 4 Source URL

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/731 (2016-02-16)
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  • Supreme Court’s Humanitarian Law Project Ruling Fails the Common Sense Test
    of barring all communications with these groups in order to make them radioactive The idea is that making them into international pariahs will make them lose local support There is a disconnect between these theories and reality There are also questions about what is the smart and humane policy For instance Peacebuilding does not aid terrorism This axiom may seem obvious but the majority s opinion rejects it Chief Justice Roberts argued that conflict mediators and peacebuilding trainers legitimize terrorist groups by teaching nonviolent conflict resolution skills This ignores the fact that conflicts cannot be effectively resolved unless all parties are part of negotiations It also confuses the role of independent civil society groups with governments If the State Department provided the training it would confer a level of legitimacy but nongovernmental groups play a different role Experts in peacebuilding have standards and protocols to address the issues Roberts raises A May 2010 Special Report from the United State Institute of Peace Mediating Peace With Proscribed Armed Groups 3 recognizes the pitfalls and risks involved But it goes on to lay out measured criteria and conditions for engaging these groups It notes that counterterrorism measures create impediments for peace negotiations It recommends steps to reform the process including a proper evaluation of the effectiveness of existing proscription and deproscription regimes in the context of the greater political objectives of promoting successful peace processes and political settlements leading to improved governance and social and economic development The radioactive strategy alone does not work Listing and shunning terrorist groups is not enough to have them lay down their arms One designated group in the HLP case the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK was labeled a terrorist organization by the U S government before the HLP case was filed 14 years ago but it is still operating The day before the Supreme Court ruled in the HLP case the Washington Post reported 4 on increased fighting between the PKK and Turkish soldiers Then t he day after the decision a tragedy 5 occurred that might have been avoided if the Humanitarian Law Project had been allowed to teach the PKK to solve its problems through nonviolent means A PKK affiliated group bombed a bus in Istanbul killing four soldiers and a 17 year old civilian 4 Collective punishment is wrong The radioactive theory has an underlying assumption that denying any kind of assistance including peacebuilding and humanitarian aid will cause the civilian populations to suffer and that they will blame that suffering on the terrorist group This amounts to collective punishment of entire populations a violation of Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which calls for Non discrimination in delivery of services and benefits including factors such as ethnicity religion opinion national origin or the political or international status of the nation to which a person belongs emphasis added Humanitarian considerations aside there is a real question about who gets blamed when aid or resources for peace negotiations are withheld Unfortunately

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/399 (2016-02-16)
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  • Multimedia resources for the Supreme Court case: Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project
    the discussion are below Nnamdi began the discussion by asking the audience to Consider the following story of free speech and the fight against terrorism A small California human rights organization wants to provide legal advice to a Kurdish militant group in Turkey They want to steer them on a path toward a peace process and train them to bring a case before the United Nations In fact it might end up diffusing a long and bloody insurrection by bringing two parties to the negotiating table Trouble is that Kurdish militant group is a foreign terrorist organization at least according to the U S State Department Any advice or assistance could be considered material support for terrorism putting that American organization in legal jeopardy Describing the type pf work HLP wanted to do Liptak said The question in this case is whether some terms are too vague or present First Amendment problems So Congress has also prohibited training personnel service or expert advice and assistance Humanitarian Law Project want to help people mediate their disputes They want the Kurdish militant group to appeal to the U N to solve problems in Turkey and elsewhere They want to perhaps represent the group in the Supreme Court and file the friend of the court brief in the Supreme Court And the government s position is that even that kind of help crosses the line is material support Explaining how major newspapers in the United States had published op ed pieces between 2008 2010 Cole said Under this law The New York Times Washington Post and L A Times are all guilty of providing material support to a terrorist group because they provided a service by publishing that op ed on behalf of Hamas And any coordinated speech with one of these groups

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/308 (2016-02-16)
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  • Supreme Court Ruling in HLP: Provision of Advocacy and Training in Nonviolent Peaceful Conflict Resolution Violates Material Support Laws
    reading that required specific intent only as applied to speech but not other activities Such a reading reasoned the Court would require it to revise the statute as opposed to merely interpret it The dissent reasoned The dissent called on the Court to apply the established principle of constitutional avoidance Accordingly the Government should be required to show knowledge or intent for the First Amendment protected pure speech and association to assist the designated organization s terrorist activities To prove knowledge the government must show knowledge that his support bears a significant likelihood of furthering the organization s terrorist ends p 18 Does the material support law violate the First Amendment freedom of speech because it criminalizes providing material support without requiring proof that HLP had a specific intent to further terrorism activity The court found The highest standard of judicial review the strict scrutiny test applies which requires the government to show that restricting First Amendment protected activities serves a compelling government interest HLP activities do not constitute pure political speech HLP activities are not limited to conduct but also include speech The government may ban HLP material support to the PKK and LTTE in the form of speech Any contribution even in the form of speech to a terrorist organization legitimizes the organizations terrorist activity Providing designated groups with any form of material support strains the U S s relations with its allies and undermines international efforts to combat terrorism The majority reasoned The Court rejected the government s claim that the only thing at issue in this case was conduct not speech Although the law is directed at conduct but as applied to HLP the conduct triggering coverage under the statute consists of communicating a message p 23 Thus the highest standard of judicial review the strict scrutiny standard applies This standard requires the government to show that restricting First Amendment protected activities serves a compelling government interest Neither party disputed that combating terrorism is a compelling government interest The parties disputed however whether prohibiting HLP s activities served this interest The Court also rejected HLP s claim that the activities in which it sought to engage constitute pure political speech HLP is free to speak and write freely about the PKK and LTTE the governments of Turkey and Sri Lanka human rights and international law so long as they do not do so in coordination with or under the direction of the PKK and LTTE What HLP cannot do the Court held is provide material support in the form of coordinated speech activities to such groups p 21 HLP emphasized that the ban on material support as applied to their activities does not further the government s compelling interest to combat terrorism To the contrary HLP s activities will advance only the legitimate activities of the designated terrorist organizations not their terrorism p 23 In rejecting this reasoning the Court cited a finding in the Congressional Recor d wherein Congress stated 2 F oreign organizations that engage in terrorist activity are so tainted by their criminal conduct that any contribution to such an organization facilitates that conduct emphasis in opinion p 24 This statement applied to all forms of support not just monetary support as HLP contends In arriving at this conclusion the Court adopted a fungibility of resources theory wherein any support even in the form of training to cease engaging in violence frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends p 25 The Court also adopted a legitimization theory wherein any form of support to a terrorist organization supposedly lends it legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist to recruit members and to raise funds all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks p 25 Finally the Court denied HLP s First Amendment claims based on deference to the executive branch on matters concerning national security and foreign affairs According the majority HLP s activities undermine the U S s relationships with its allies who are harmed by the organization s violent activities In deference to the executive branch the Court stated that it was inappropriate to substitute its own assessments as to whether restricting HLP s activities served the government s compelling interest in combating terrorism In sum the Court held that restricting HLP s speech related activities as applied served the government s compelling interest in combating terrorism The dissent reasoned Although the government has a compelling interest to combat terrorism it failed to prove that restricting HLP s speech served this interest All of the activities involve the communication of advocacy of political ideas and lawful means of achieving political ends p 2 Therefore they are the sort of activities that warrant the First Amendment s strongest protection p 3 The dissent noted that the mere fact of coordination alone is not a sufficient basis for the removal of the First Amendment s protection because freedom of association is protected p 4 Moreover the right to associate is not lost because some members of a group may have participated in conduct or advocated doctrine that is not protected By extension the fact that the PKK or LTTE engage in violent activities does not strip HLP of their protected speech and association rights directed towards persuading these groups to cease using violence to resolve their grievances p 5 While conceding the Government s expertise in foreign affairs and national security the dissent noted that it is up to the Court to decide whether otherwise protected speech can be criminalized p 16 Simply because foreign governments may not like us for granting such rights does not justify restricting protected speech Does the material support law violate the First Amendment freedom of association because it criminalizes provision of material support without requiring proof that HLP had a specific intent to further terrorism activity The majority rejected HLP s First Amendment freedom of association claims on the same grounds on which it rejected HLP s free speech

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/429 (2016-02-16)
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  • Nonprofit and Legal Experts Respond to Supreme Court Ruling in Humanitarian Law Project Case
    back up these claims about this type of aid Ahilan Arulanantham Arulanantham said the Court s decision will be detrimental to the innocent victims of natural disasters protracted civil conflicts and others who are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance Although the Court did not rule on humanitarian aid issues he said groups doing such work will have increased fear and uncertainty about committing their humanitarian activities after the ruling He also said the Court avoided clarifying what separates independent and coordinated support saying another federal agency found that distinction nearly impossible to determine Having volunteered in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami Arulanantham said if the judges had been able to see the the victims of violence and disaster whose lives their decision will so adversely affect they would have voted otherwise To learn more about Arulanantham s relief efforts in Sri Lanka and how material support laws undermine those efforts see his article published by the American Constitutional Society A Hungry Child Knows No Politics 5 Steven Vladeck This is a sweeping decision notwithstanding the Chief Justice s attempt to suggest that they re leaving harder issues for another day In holding that the statute is not vague to the extent that it prohibits the provision of service training and expert advice or assistance the majority effectively accepted the government s argument that virtually any support for these groups is within Congress s constitutional power to prohibit Even the most benign forms of speech could be punished under the statute a result that will likely have a profound chilling effect on the efforts of peacebuilding organizations and other NGOs that seek to promote non violent democracy building measures vis à vis these groups through teaching and other advocacy training At oral argument the government even

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/400 (2016-02-16)
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  • Report Uncovers Over-Hyped Material Support of Terrorism Prosecutions by U.S.
    after 9 11 to target and prosecute individuals or organizations whose beliefs ideology or religious affiliations raise security concerns for the government The criminal charges that are brought against these individuals include the material support for terrorism laws which prohibits anyone from providing nearly all tangible and intangible types of support to designated terrorist group The authors found that in effect the material support law criminalizes activities that are not otherwise illegal such as free speech free association charity peace making and social hospitality The authors also discovered that the government has argued in several cases that Muslim defendants were ideologically predisposed to commit the crime This has resulted in individuals being convicted based on associations with others or for their participation in government manufactured and controlled criminal plots In some cases minor criminal activity has been characterized as supporting terrorism Only one percent of prosecutions on the DOJ list of terrorism and terrorism related convictions represented individuals who were ready to engage in violent activity relating to terrorism in the U S calling into question whether or not these individuals posed a serious or imminent threat Seven individuals identified as security threats since 9 11 were not even included

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/1242 (2016-02-16)
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