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  • NGOs Explain How USAID’s Partner Vetting System Hurts Humanitarian Action & Is Contrary to U.S. Interests | Charity & Security Network
    October 14 Notice seeks public comments regarding its Program to our knowledge the Department of State has not published any details regarding the Program Without knowing these details the ACLU has little basis on which to comment on the Program and whether its implementation will heighten or mitigate our concerns or raise new concerns p 1 2 Zakat Foundation of America There is no evidence that USAID funds are flowing to terrorist organizations through NGOs The USAID Office of the Inspector General found no such diversion in exercising its oversight of programs In USAID s sensitive West Bank Gaza portfolio for 2006 and 2007 when PVS was proposed According To the Inspector General OIG oversight activities during this period did not identify any instances Where terrorist organizations received USAID funds Nor has it reported finding such diversions elsewhere p 1 Systems such as PVS tend to create barriers to effective delivery of aid programs discourage small NGOs from applying for grants and alienate international partners all without effectively addressing national security concerns p 2 David A Steele Increased security risks to NGOs due to the same perception that they are arms of US intelligence Kidnappings killings and other security risks have increased drastically over the past ten years for NGO personnel working in conflict zones p 1 Questions are raised about the accuracy of the lists of terrorists The very fact that Nelson Mandela used to be on such a list is but one example of the questions that need to be raised There do not seem to be adequate definitions regarding who would be designated a terrorist what is the description of a key individual very broadly defined in the proposed text what constitutes derogatory information what exactly is defined as a threat to national security or what happens to information gathered on people who are not deemed to be terrorists Grant programs could actually be halted because names of innocent people appear on a list p 1 The fact that NGOs will not be notified if a proposal submitted has been denied due to PVS and that there is no recourse therefore for a challenge to be made and for the data to be amended or even corrected in light of information coming from people who many times will know the individuals in question much better than USG personnel or computerized lists The secrecy of the process one in which the USG is the only party that can evaluate itself raises important questions Also of concern is the fact that an NGO can be excluded from receiving a USG grant without ever knowing that the reason is due to inclusion of a suspected terrorist in their project proposal Much more transparency is necessary for effective partnership p 1 2 I have worked in numerous other conflict zones where I have had contact with and trained people who may well have been on terrorist lists for example Tamils in Sri Lanka Indonesians from Ache or Kenyan Muslims What I

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/background/Comments_Filed_PVS_Winter_2011_2012 (2016-02-16)
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  • Wikileaks Exposes Trove of Insight on U.S. Government Counterterrorism Rules and Charities | Charity & Security Network
    water quality UNRWA and WFP expressed willingness to expand operations but will require more funding NGOs expressed concern they would no longer be eligible for USG support due to policy constraints All agreed that staff security was their immediate concern NGOs said they faced technical geographic and financial constraints Five major Palestinian NGOs account for 40 percent of the NGO clinics in the West Bank and Gaza Four of these decline to sign the Anti Terrorism Certification ATC and are thus ineligible for direct funding or sub grants through USAID Other NGO clinics may be ineligible to be USAID partners because of a failure to pass the security vetting review UK s suggestions to improve counter violent extremism strategy with U S August 2009 During a USG HMG Video Tele Conference VTC meeting on August 14 UK officials focused on the UK s PREVENT counter radicalization strategy expressed strong interest in collaborating more closely with the US Government to counter violent extremism UK officials outlined several programs abroad that they believe have been effective and suggested efforts to enhance strategic communications in Pakistan Treasury and UK Charity Commission slam charities promote Alternative Relief Mechanism Part 1 of 2 June 2009 U S EU Terrorism Finance Workshop held in Prague explored possible measures to decrease NPO vulnerability to terrorist financing abuse In particular Katherine Leahy noted that in the U S Treasury s experience exploitation is the more commonly observed practice of the two aimed at radicalizing vulnerable populations through the provision of legitimate social services She noted that while the bulk of funding comes from the U S and Europe many other countries remain vulnerable to exploitation Finally she introduced the concept of alternative relief mechanisms covered in more detail in Session III which aim to provide a vehicle for donors to give more safely to vulnerable communities Ben Evans of the Charity Commission for England and Wales agreed with Leahy that the charitable sector does not generally recognize the risks it faces and emphasized the importance of public outreach Workshop participants agreed that outreach to NPOs is key but controversial NPOs are often offended by the implication that they could be used for terrorist purposes Throughout the workshop Poncy repeatedly underscored that any counter terrorist financing efforts must be considered within the context of broader counter terrorism efforts When viewed through this lens it becomes impossible to distinguish between the legitimate activities and terrorist actions of Hamas or Hezbollah as they pursue a common purpose Treasury and UK Charity Commission slam charities promote Alternative Relief Mechanism Part 2 of 2 June 2009 The private sector struggles with implementing so many government watch lists without consolidated data Questions about humanitarian services provided by Hamas and Hizballah September 2009 The role of social welfare and legal practical difficulties that states are facing to disrupt organizations that fund Hamas and Hezbollah i e in some cases funds provided to social welfare related to these groups is just a part of a wide

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/node/647 (2016-02-16)
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  • Excerpts from Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on a Smart Power Approach to Counterterrorism | Charity & Security Network
    Violent Extremism a group of women in 17 countries around the world who have risked their lives to tell terrorists that they are not welcome in their communities They have written newspaper articles in Yemen held workshops for young people in Indonesia brought Indian and Pakistani women together to show a united front These women know they will not stop extremism everywhere but they refuse to sit on the sidelines Local authorities and civil society often are better positioned than we are to provide services to their people disrupt plots and prosecute extremists and they often bear the brunt of terrorist attacks This is a job that calls for a scalpel not a sledgehammer So we are pursuing micro strategies that include credible local leaders and are driven by local needs and informed by local knowledge For example in the triangle between Kenya Somalia and Ethiopia where famine and conflict have opened the door to extremists we are exploring a new partnership with the Kenya Muslim Youth Association They will organize small learning circles around mainstream religious scholars who will help provide counseling to young people who have been radicalized This is a small project one of many we re doing but it s taking on a big challenge and it s a start and we will keep learning and adapting and keep convincing others to join with us Staying true to our American values J ust as counterterrorism cannot be the sole focus of our foreign policy it does not make sense to view counterterrorism in a vacuum It must be integrated into our broader diplomatic and development agendas And we should appreciate that while working to resolve conflicts reduce poverty and improve governance those are valuable ends in themselves but they also advance the cause of counterterrorism and

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/node/641 (2016-02-16)
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  • Comments of Nonprofit Organizations on Proposed Partner Vetting in USAID Acquisitions | Charity & Security Network
    intrusion into private entities The U S government can and should conduct its own intelligence gathering efforts PVS information gathering will create an impression in countries where USAID operates programs that contractors and NGOs are working for the U S government This can increases the danger that employees may be kidnapped and murdered This danger is already at unacceptable levels In 2008 alone 260 humanitarian aid workers were killed kidnapped or seriously injured in violent attacks This toll is the highest in the 12 years of the Center of International Cooperation and the Overseas Development Institute began tracking these incidents USAID programs cannot function effectively if they increase these dangers Due diligence conducted by NGOs would be a superior approach to vetting than list checking In the Background Information in the proposed rule USAID said More can be done to ensure adequate due diligence That is always desirable However the problem with PVS is that it substitutes massive collection of personal data for the kind of on the ground due diligence that has proven effective in the past USAID would be better served to restructure a vetting system based on traditional due diligence practices The PVS model of vetting assumes that computers that sift through multiple databases are superior to the essential human elements of due diligence personal relationships on the ground experience and thorough financial oversight List checking strategies have been rejected by National Research Council of the National Academy of Science in a recent study Protecting Individual Privacy in the Struggle Against Terrorists 2008 These experts said H ighly automated tools and techniques cannot be easily applied to the much more difficult problem of detecting and preempting a terrorist attack and success may not be possible at all Because the data being analyzed are primarily about ordinary law abiding citizens and businesses false positives can result in invasion of privacy Such intrusions raise valid concerns about the misuse and abuse of data PVS exacerbates problems with list checking by including people or organizations that are not specifically designated by the U S Government but who may nevertheless be linked to terrorist activities This means that secret lists with different standards for why people are listed and how the information is intended to be used will be used Since USAID will limit information provided when an entity fails vetting there will not be an adequate opportunity for contractors or NGOs to respond The contractor rule provides benefits not available in the NGO rule It is appropriate for USAID to apply its final vetting rules to both foreign assistance programs NGOs and acquisition contractors To the extent possible PVS should be the same for both However the proposed rule for contractors provides several benefits not available to NGOs in the foreign assistance rule For example Risk assessment The proposed rule for contractors limits application of PVS to situations where USAID has conducted a risk assessment and determined there is a need for enhanced vetting In contrast PVS is imposed on

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/background/Comments_Nonprofit_Proposed_Partner_Vetting_USAID_Acquisitions_PVS (2016-02-16)
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  • Examples of Negative Impact of U.S. Counterterrorism Laws on Charities and Philanthropy | Charity & Security Network
    groups is a task beyond the wise use of resources Instead he said Treasury targets umbrella groups However since Treasury has known about these particular groups since at least 2004 when it indicted HLF that rationale does not explain Treasury s continuing failure to designate the groups According to AlterNet the same zakat committees have received aid from the International Red Cross and the U S Agency for International Development Treasury s legal theory makes it impossible for U S charities operating abroad to protect themselves by checking local charity partners against the list of designated supporters of terrorism The threat of being shut down by Treasury has already discouraged international programs from operating in conflict zones and now the potential for severe criminal sanctions could further exacerbate this situation Dec 2 2008 Conviction of Holy Land Foundation Raises Questions Concerns for Nonprofits Abstract Two representatives of the U S Treasury Department s Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes met with Detroit area Muslim and Arab Americans to discuss charitable giving in preparation for Ramadan a Muslim holy month beginning next week During Ramadan donations to charity are typically at their highest because of a religious requirement zakat a practice of giving to good causes The meeting was organized by the U S Attorney s Office and Muslim leaders to address questions and concerns The Detroit News reported that Audience members unsuccessfully sought absolute assurances they could not be prosecuted for giving to a charity that is legal today but could be deemed a terrorist front tomorrow Frustrated attendees also wondered how they could help suffering friends and relatives in Gaza or southern Lebanon without working through agencies that must deal with Hamas or Hezbollah both designated terrorist organizations by the U S government Linda Mansour of the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee said most donors are average citizens who want their money to go for food and medicine but now fear prosecution Michael Rosen a policy adviser with the Treasury Department said the government wants to establish a safe and approved means of providing humanitarian aid but has not done so yet Sept 7 2007 Uncertain Charitable Giving for Many Muslim and Arab Americans Abstract In 2003 Alliance 10 the world s leading magazine on philanthropy and social investment published a study on perceived barriers to international giving by U S foundations 11 The study found that complying with counterterrorism measures is particularly difficult in the context of cross border grants Organizations interviewed for the study noted practical problems in applying counterterrorism measures and organizational anxiety due to the draconian consequences of non compliance Many also feared the long term consequences to international grantmaking because of the unpredictability of counterterrorism enforcement inexperienced grantmakers will be frighten ed away think ing that it is not worth the effort 12 From the June 2008 OMB Watch report Collateral Damage How the War on Terror Hurts Charities Foundations and the People They Serve Abstract The Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors suspended funding for a Caribbean program designed to kick start a flow of American charity to that often overlooked region Inability to comply with the Guidelines was cited as the reason and Eileen Growald Rockefeller Philanthropy s chairwoman stated that i f these guidelines become the de facto standard of best practices for giving abroad we might very well have to stop making grants outside the United States 13 Later in the article Robin Krause of the law firm Patterson Belknap Webb Tyler said If a donor can choose between three programs he s likely to choose the least risky one and right now that s not an international one Aug 5 2003 Small Charities Abroad Feel Pinch of U S War on Terror from New York Times Missed Opportunity for Public Diplomacy Abstract There is data to suggest that international assistance does much more than make Americans feel good it also makes the world feel good about America thereby counteracting anti American sentiment For example Terror Free Tomorrow conducted surveys within Indonesia to gauge public opinion about the U S after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami when more than 13 4 billion in U S humanitarian aid both public and private went to help victims 14 Due to the tsunami relief 44 percent of respondents in January 2006 reported a favorable view of the U S compared to 15 percent in May 2003 before the tsunami 15 In addition Indonesia reported the lowest level of support for Osama bin Laden and terrorism since 9 11 This same phenomenon was recorded by Terror Free Tomorrow in Pakistan after the 2005 earthquake 16 75 percent of Pakistanis had a more favorable opinion of America and most cited earthquake relief as the reason From the June 2008 OMB Watch report Collateral Damage How the War on Terror Hurts Charities Foundations and the People They Serve Treasury Guidelines for Charities The Wrong Approach Abstract BNA Money and Politics reports that the Council of Foundations sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Paulson on behalf of the Treasury Guidelines Working Group OMB Watch is apart of the Working Group that is once again asking for the withdrawal of the Anti terrorist Financing Guidelines Voluntary Best Practices for U S based Charities This latest version released September 29 2006 includes some of the group s suggested changes but the letter expresses the consensus that numerous concerns remain As the letter states the Guidelines significantly exaggerate the extent to which U S charities have served as a source of terrorist funding The administrative burden of information collection and reporting requirements results in less time that can be spent for program activities The Guidelines are set as voluntary by the Treasury Department yet organizations have been suspected of incompliance Members of the Working Group are also aware that IRS agents both in the context of audits and exemption applications have questioned organizations about their compliance with the Guidelines If the Guidelines are voluntary they should not become a criterion for evaluating

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/Background/Examples_Negative_Impacts (2016-02-16)
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  • U.S. Terrorist Watchlists: More Problem than Solution | Charity & Security Network
    watchlist In response the ACLU has called for Congressional oversight and Sen Patrick Leahy D VT called the situation unacceptable The report reveals that in 72 percent of the cases examined the FBI failed to remove subjects no longer under suspicion from the list in a timely manner Overall the audit revealed a 35 percent error rate and significant deficiencies in the process of adding or erasing records The audit also raises significant questions for U S nonprofits since the Department of Treasury Anti Terrorist Financing Guidelines for charities and USAID s proposed Partner Vetting System PVS promote list checking For more on why PVS is dangerous for U S NGOs read the Issue Brief USAID Must Consider Alternative Vetting Procedures On Feb 4 2009 the U S House of Representatives passed H R 559 the Fair Accurate Secure and Timely Redress Act that would create a process for individuals placed on government watch lists to challenge their classification The bill is a response to complaints that overbroad and inaccurate lists have denied many innocent Americans of basic benefits and rights including flying on commercial planes getting credit or jobs If it becomes law the process established in the bill could be a model for creating due process rights for charities accused of supporting terrorism Even the Internal Revenue Service has been encouraged to use government watchlists On May 21 2007 the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration TIGTA issued a report criticizing the IRS for not using the FBI s Terrorist Screening Center s TSC consolidated watch lists to check nonprofit tax filings for possible matches to suspected terrorists The TIGTA report primarily addressed inefficiencies in the IRS process including failure to automate its list checking and manually screening tax exempt status applications Form 1023 and annual information reports

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/Background/Watchlists_and_Charities (2016-02-16)
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  • Explanation and Implications of the USAID-American Charities for Palestine (ACP) Pilot | Charity & Security Network
    funds in direct support of mutually agreed upon projects and activities in the West Bank and Gaza particularly in the areas of health and education The ACP press release quotes Asali saying Our immediate next step is to finalize robust administrative and financial structures to carry our mission forward This implies that the practical problems of delivering charitable services under the current U S counterterrorism legal regime have not yet been addressed However USAID has proposed rules for its grantees working in the same region known as the Partner Vetting System PVS that rely heavily on watchlist checking rather than the due diligence private philanthropy uses to ensure resources are actually used for charitable purposes The USAID ACP project could end up imposing PVS on private charitable resources There is also a question of whether USAID will turn the funds over to agencies controlled by political parties or factions favored by U S foreign policy This would politicize private philanthropy in violation of long standing principles of neutrality and independence of civil society WHY In his remarks at the signing ceremony ACP s Asali said the project has been in the works for six years Citing the shut down of U S charities designated as supporters of terrorism he said this has been a sore subject for all because there were no substitutes available to the public to express its generosity and its support to the Palestinian people and others We have established the American Charities for Palestine precisely to offer a safe reliable and meaningful way for people to make their contributions with the full confidence that they can be sure not be harassed and not to be questioned about their patriotism or their contributions to the national interest The U S government s policies and enforcement actions toward charities have been consistently criticized by OMB Watch and many others in the nonprofit sector The increasing public attention to the issue may have pushed Treasury and other agencies to look for a mechanism that enables charitable programs Unfortunately they developed this project without input from experts on international philanthropy and the apparent built in flaws are the result Even though the USAID ACP project has not gotten any programs off the ground the U S government is promoting it as an example of its support for humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza Strip A summary of the project along with statistics on USAID aid to the region appears on State Department websites and a number of news sources re published their press release Treasury officials have held it up as an example both in Kimmitt s remarks referred to above and in meetings with U S nonprofits IMPLICATIONS Is the USAID ACP project a unique collaboration a potential option or a future requirement Treasury officials have not given a clear answer but initial remarks indicate they believe this is a potential solution to the barriers U S laws create to humanitarian aid delivery For example Treasury Assistant

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/background/Explaination_Implications_USAID_American_Charities_Palestine_Pilot (2016-02-16)
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  • Detailed Analysis of The PROCEDURES FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST CHARITIES ACT (HR 6532)
    c 3 category includes religious organizations public charities private foundations and educational and scientific institutions Proposed Sec 208 b Warrant Requirement Problems Created by Current Law IEEPA and Executive Order 13224 allow Treasury to block and seize assets when there is danger the assets could be transferred outside of U S jurisdiction if a charity learns of an investigation which would render enforcement ineffective In the KindHearts case the court said the government cannot automatically assume this danger exists in all cases Instead the government must obtain a judicial warrant based on specific facts from a judge that finds probable cause to believe assets may be moved In a May 10 2010 ruling the KindHearts court said I leave to Congress the responsibility for considering and adopting the appropriate structure for pre blocking warrant and probable cause standards that would comply with the Fourth Amendment Solution and Rationale The bill proposes procedures based on the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act to comply with Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure As a result charitable assets are not seized and frozen without a court finding there is probable cause to believe the assets would be transferred outside U S jurisdiction if notice of the investigation is provided to a charity It has an emergency exception that allows the government to freeze assets for up to 48 hours prior to making a probable cause showing in court When courts find probable cause the act allows for a variety of steps to be taken including appointment of conservators which may make it possible to preserve the availability of the property that is subject to the warrant This may mean that assets would not need to be frozen if they can be protected another way Proposed Sec 208 c Procedures Regarding Charities Problems Created by Current Law The courts have held that the lack of notice and opportunity to defend in Treasury s current enforcement process violate the due process requirements of the Fifth Amendment For example there is no independent review no requirement the charity even know why they are being investigated or designated no timelines for Treasury to respond to requests for reconsideration and inadequate opportunity to confront and present evidence Treasury effectively functions as prosecutor judge jury and executioner Combined with a lack of transparency this wide discretion opens the door to mistake and abuse The lack of fundamental fairness also undermines public confidence in the Treasury s enforcement efforts Current enforcement policies employ a one sanction fits all approach for charities maximizing collateral damage to innocent beneficiaries There is no requirement that the enforcement agency seek less drastic remedies than designation and asset blocking when violations may not be on a scale that requires shutting down an entire charity Treasury has been inconsistent about its willingness to work with charities to encourage compliance and resolve problems In addition long delays termed inexplicable by the court in the KindHearts case have contributed to the unnecessary hardship sanctions proceedings cause for

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/print/479 (2016-02-16)
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