The House Natural Resource Committee is intenseifying its ongoing investigation to “examine foreign influence on U.S. natural resource and environmental policy.” On June 13 it asked the Department of Defense (DOD) for an assessment on how a number of U.S. environmental organizations’ litigation against DOD impacts national security. A week later it sent the Center for Biological Diversity a letter demanding extensive information on its advocacy regarding relocation of a U.S. military base in Okinawa. (This follows a similar inquiry sent to the Natural Resources Defense Council on June 5.) The committee is using vague provisions of the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) in an attempt to equate traditional forms of policy advocacy involving international affairs, including litigation, with being an agent of a foreign government. This is strikingly similar to a tactic used by Russia and other non-democratic governments to limit the voice of civil society.
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The Charity and Security Network monitors U.S. and foreign government activities and a wide range of news sources to identify developments in national security policy that impact civil society and nonprofit organizations. We collect and disseminate relevant information on our website, via our Twitter and Facebook accounts, and through our biweekly email newsletter, which contains links to a variety of news articles. To read the most recent issues of our email newsletter or to subscribe, click here.
Our staff also creates news pieces on events and developments of particular interest to our members that are not covered in other news outlets. Those stories can be found below, in revese chronological order.
After circulating Capitol Hill for six months as a discussion draft, the Counterterrorism and Illicit Finance Act (HR 6068) was introduced June 12. The bill, which seeks to update the Bank Secrecy Act, has been viewed as a possible vehicle to address bank derisking legislatively.
On May 31, 2018 the U.S. District Court in Washington, DC granted the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) motion to dismiss a whistleblower lawsuit against the Carter Center. The case, filed by The Zionist Advocacy Center (TZAC), alleged the Carter Center falsely certified it has not provided “material support” to a terrorist group in a grant agreement with USAID. TZAC claimed the Carter Center provided Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both on the US terrorist list, with material support because it hosted a meeting that included both groups and served water, fruit and cookies. TZAC issued a statement saying that while it disagrees with the outcome “there is not much to do about it” and that it will “continue investigating the Carter Center.”
On June 11, 2018 the Charity & Security Network sent comments to the U.S. Department of Treasuryt regarding its pending update to the 2015 National Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment. Thie comments, which reflect input and insights from C&SN members, also request a meeting to follow up on the April 12 discussion Treasury hosted on this topic. Overall, the comments point out that net risk of terrorist financing abuse of legitimate NPOs is low, due to the combination of government oversight and robust nonprofit sector good governance and due diligence practices. They also note the importance of the need to distinguishing between risks for in two categories - sham/fraudulent charities and abuse of legitimate NPOs - since different types of risk reduction measures are needed for each.
A recent letter to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a U.S.-based environmental nonprofit organization, from the House Committee on Natural Resources confirms civil society's worst fears about how the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) can be politicized to target nonprofits in the U.S. With the letter, the Committee has initiated an investigation of the NRDC, accusing it of being a "foreign agent" of the Chinese government, and inquiring why it hasn't registered under FARA.
The letter cites "the potential manipulation of tax-exempt 501(c) organizations by foreign entities to influence U.S. environmental and natural resource policy." The Committee claims that NRDC has criticized U.S. policies on the environment while praising China's efforts to comply with climate change commitments, and are therefore acting in the interests of the Chinese government.