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  • On Constitution Day, Don't Mourn, Organize! | Charity & Security Network
    S security laws and overly broad counterterrorism policies increasingly restrict these groups and create barriers to their legitimate operations This is counterproductive in that it limits the ability of civil society groups to address root causes of violent extremism The people that operate aid development peace and other programs in hot spots in the world are front line fighters against terrorism And the sharp increase of attacks on aid workers in the past few years shows that terrorist groups understand this very well they don t want alternative visions to their terrorist narrative and they don t want strong civil society organizations in their own countries to compete with them for hearts and minds The U S court system has sent mixed signals about how far government can go in limiting the Constitutional rights of American civil society organizations In its now notorious June 2010 ruling in Holder v Humanitarian Law Project the Supreme Court said a law criminalizing programs that seek to turn terrorists away from violence through conflict resolution and human rights training programs does not violate the First Amendment But in two other cases lower federal courts have held that the Department of Treasury s procedures for shutting down U S charities accused of supporting terrorism violate the Fourth and Fifth Amendments by seizing assets without a warrant and failing to provide due process for charities to defend themselves See more on the KindHearts and Al Haramain decisions The Humanitarian Law Project decision coupled with the Obama administration s slow progress in addressing these problems has generated a lot of frustration But there are reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for reform The widespread public criticism of the Humanitarian Law Project decision points to increasing public understanding that we have a problem that must be addressed

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/On_Constitutio_%20Day_Dont_Mourn_Organize%21 (2016-02-16)
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  • Response to Matthew Levitt's Take on Due Diligence by Charities (Part 2) | Charity & Security Network
    up groups that are infiltrated by terrorist operatives and covertly sabotaged Despite this critical distinction Levitt s analysis fails to account for it Instead he takes a one size fits all approach that essentially throws out the baby with the bathwater It doesn t make sense for him or the Department of Treasury Treasury to treat both categories the same way There is a second and critical distinction Levitt fails to make He repeatedly accused the charitable sector of being vulnerable to terrorist exploitation because charities are subjected to lesser regulatory requirements than other entities But he offers no supporting evidence of this claim Levitt fails to make the crucial distinction between U S charities and foreign groups that may not be subject to the same kind of transparency and accountability standards For example the IRS requires specific due diligence procedures when a U S charitable organization supports activities of foreign charities and all foreign grants must be reported to the IRS on an annual basis Finally Levitt describes the problems charities and donors have with Treasury s regulatory regime as more of a misunderstanding or the result of misinformation and not one of enforcement He has conveniently overlooked two federal court decisions that found the lack of basic due process for charities designated by Treasury violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments of the Constitution Those rulings are not mere misunderstandings but an indication that Levitt and Treasury need to listen to the U S charitable sector rather than continue to assume it knows what s best The Chronicle of Philanthropy blog full text is available to subscribers For essentially the same content see Levitt s posting on the Counterterrorism blog Issues Humanitarian Access Material Support Financial Action Task Force FATF Financial Access Peacebuilding Countering Violent Extremism Click Here For

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/response_to_Levitt_part2 (2016-02-16)
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  • Response to Matthew Levitt's Take on Due Diligence by Charities (Part 1) | Charity & Security Network
    never heard anyone from the nonprofit sector make such a statement The fact that he repeats such unsubstantiated claims in his blog is irresponsible If he is going to make such a serious accusation he should be willing to back it up with facts Perhaps Levitt is referring to criticism of Treasury s Anti Terrorist Financing Guidelines If that is the case he needs to acknowledge that there is a serious debate between Treasury and the U S charitable sector over the best way to prevent diversion of resources to terrorism and not about whether or not due diligence is important and worthwhile This debate is fueled in part by the fact that current Treasury policies were developed by financial experts with no background in the complexities of providing humanitarian assistance in conflict zones As a former Treasury official Levitt has taken this lack of understanding into his analysis work in the private sector The truth is that the U S charitable sector takes the threat of terrorism very seriously Since 9 11 U S charities and foundations have proactively developed and implemented enhanced due diligence procedures to prevent their resources from being used to benefit designated terrorist organizations For instance in August 2008 Muslim Advocates launched the Muslim Charities Accreditation Program It is designed to enhance the knowledge and ability of nonprofit leaders to meet the demands of governance legal and financial compliance The program is in partnership with the Better Business Bureau s Wise Giving Alliance a charity evaluation program that also promotes nonprofit best practices Other examples of due diligence standards and best practices resources generated and used by the U S charitable sector include InterAction s Private Voluntary Organization Standards define the financial operational and ethical code of conduct for InterAction and its member agencies With

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Response_Matthew_Levitts_Take_Due_Diligence_Charities_%28Part_1%29 (2016-02-16)
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  • NGO Impartiality May Upset Some, But Is Important for All | Charity & Security Network
    kits and provided the same first aid training and kits to civilians over 100 Afghan military personnel taxi drivers used to transport the wounded and members of the charity s own staff Christian Cardon a spokesman for ICRC said Our aim is to treat people when and where it matters most irrespective of what side they are on He described the training as enough to ensure that someone wounded in the field will be able to reach a hospital or a medical facility without dying on the trip there Participants also are educated about the Geneva Conventions The idea of this is to have contact with people that are involved in the current hostility said Cardon also saying that Afghan police have received similar training So should this aid training and expert advice or assistance protected by the Geneva Conventions count as prohibited material support to groups the U S government has listed as terrorist Before you answer you may be surprised to learn that NATO forces have provided Taliban fighters in Afghanistan with first aid too and views the ICRC as an important ally in the region Lt Col Todd Viciana a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force ISAF in Afghanistan said One of the litany of things that separates the international coalition from the Taliban is that we have frequently provided first aid to injured Taliban fighters Col Viciana said the ISAF has a close working relationship with the ICRC and recognizes the need for their work to be executed impartially and it s precisely for this reason that they are able to gain the access that they do he said Under international humanitarian law all warring parties be they international military forces or an armed opposition are obliged to allow unimpeded access to wounded and sick

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/NGO_Impartiality_May_Upset_Some_But_Is_Important_for_All (2016-02-16)
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  • After the Oversight Hearing: What is the Next Step? | Charity & Security Network
    calls alternative delivery mechanisms as demonstrated in a pilot program it carried out with USAID and a specially created group American Charities for Palestine This is not a new idea It essentially requires a private charity to funnel its privately funded aid through USAID The U S nonprofit sector has made it clear to Treasury that this structure violates the principles of independence of the nonprofit sector in addition to other problems It is somewhat surprising that Treasury persists with this idea when it is clearly a non starter While they may induce some well intentioned groups desperate to get aid into conflict zones controlled by terrorists to participate the program is too fundamentally flawed to ever become a widespread solution to the problems charities and government both confront when aid is needed in these places The other problem with Treasury s alternative delivery mechanism is that it assumes there are no conditions under which the U S charitable sector can provide aid and development in conflict zones without somehow supporting terrorism This ignores a host of due diligence efforts that go much further than anyone at Treasury seems to realize Perhaps before trying to engage in discussion of due diligence issues some U S charities and development programs should invite Treasury staff to accompany them on a site visit to a program in a conflict area so they can see what is actually involved Levitt s testimony promoted USAID s proposed Partner Vetting System PVS as a solution This controversial substitute for due diligence relies on secret U S intelligence databases and notoriously inaccurate watchlists to screen foreign charitable partners their board members workers and in some cases beneficiaries The screening is based on collection of highly personal data by the charity which is then turned over the U

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/After_the_Oversight_Hearing_What_is_the_Next_Step%3F (2016-02-16)
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  • Are Terrorist Lists Doing Their Job? | Charity & Security Network
    case other governments will be less likely to cooperate in blocking material support to listed groups He adds The law requires that a group be maintained on the list only if it engages in terrorist activity But Clawson says terrorist lists include groups and countries that Washington simply does not like often with little connection to terrorism He identifies an Iranian group that has been listed for years based on State Department reports containing numerous nonterrorist allegations and without offering any indication that the group continues to engage in terrorism According to the State Department s website and reiterated by Treasury s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing David S Cohen speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy a few days after Clawson wrote this analysis the purpose of FTO designations is to reduce support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business That stands in sharp contrast with how the U S Solicitor General Elena Kagan described the non violent services the Humanitarian Law Project wanted to provide to a designated group in the Supreme Court case Holder v Humanitarian Law Project Can you say to an organization look you guys really should lay down your arms Well now you can t Because when you tell people here s how to apply for aid and here s how to represent yourself within international organizations or within the U S Congress you ve given them an extremely valuable skill that they can use for all kinds of purposes legal or illegal Her comment Clawson writes suggests that it is illegal to advise groups to abandon terrorism And yet one struggles to see how such a position advances the objective of countering terrorism He adds surely it is appropriate to encourage groups to drop their

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Are_Terrorist_Lists_Doing_Their_Job%3F (2016-02-16)
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  • How an Intent Requirement Can Fix Material Support Laws | Charity & Security Network
    illegal activities She goes on to say In the 1960s at the height of the Cold War the Supreme Court held in Scales v United States that laws criminalizing membership in the Communist Party must be interpreted to require a specific intent to further the group s illegal aims Mere knowledge that a group advocated violence was insufficient to justify infringing on cherished First Amendment associational rights Consistent with that principle in 2004 Congress amended the law prohibiting material support to terrorism to require that n othing in this section shall be construed or applied so as to abridge the exercise of rights guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States Aziz s approach would rectify several unfortunate policy effects of the way material support laws are currently interpreted First she notes Existing law unduly criminalizes the fundamental American tradition of charity As a result many American charities have refrained from providing humanitarian aid in conflict zones where aid is most needed Second criminalizing charity undermines the administration s declared commitment to improving America s image abroad through meaningful engagement Lastly she argues that requiring a showing of specific intent to support illegal acts prevents squandering limited prosecutorial resources on pro peace charities such as the Humanitarian Law Project This reinforces other calls for an intent requirement as a way to protect legitimate charitable work and free speech including conflict resolution and peacebuilding programs For example at an event at the National Press Club on Feb 17 Lisa Schirch of the 3D Security Initiative said specify the intent in US law and only criminalize activity if it is increasing the likelihood of their armed violence or terrorist activity Issues Humanitarian Access Material Support Financial Action Task Force FATF Financial Access Peacebuilding Countering Violent Extremism Click Here

    Original URL path: http://www.charityandsecurity.org/blog/Intent_Requirement_Can_Fix_Material_Support_Laws (2016-02-16)
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  • Austin Plane Attack Highlights Double Standards | Charity & Security Network
    patriotism In fact newly elected Sen Scott Brown R Mass discussed Stack s actions in terms of popular frustration with government and a desire for transparency and accountability Yet when violence is perpetuated by Muslim extremists the results are completely different Fear is fanned by those who stand to benefit from it pressuring some Muslim organizations dedicated to American pluralism to defend their integrity by repeatedly explaining that the world s 2 billion Muslims are not represented by one individual s act of violence To examine the motives or mental state of terrorists is to risk being called a terrorist sympathizer Legal and social norms are compromised all too often and we operate on prejudice masquerading as policy Although the Obama administration has taken some courageous steps to reverse this trend and pursue a more balanced rhetoric it has not been able to fully implement polices that restore American ideals of justice and equality Joseph Stack committed a horrific act So did Nidal Hasan when he went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood military base And although the threat of Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism is serious and real it is problematic that the media only inquires about religion organizational affiliation or ideology when Muslims are involved In the news coverage that only lasted a day or two few have asked Who was Joseph Stack And yet tax protester violence is not new Right wing extremist groups sometimes religiously inspired have a history of aggression in this country Take anti abortion groups that supported the death of Dr Tiller or anti semitic members of Posse Comitatus who refuse to pay taxes and have killed or threatened federal officials In addition the Department of Homeland Security issued a report in April of 2009 on the rising threat of right wing

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