July 1, 2009 Panel Event- Dilemma for US NGOs: Counterterrorism Laws vs. the Humanitarian Imperative

July 1, 2009

The legal constraints national security laws impose of U.S. charitable organizations cause tensions with international law and codes for humanitarian aid and development programs. The standards and principles expressed in the Geneva Conventions and International Red Cross Code of Conduct could be emulated by the U.S and incorporated into future polices.

This panel discussion featured NGO leaders and experts from the U.S. who shared their expertise on humanitarian codes, charitable groups and donors affected by U.S. laws and regulations.

Selective Enforcement: Charities Targeted for Harsher Sanctions

June 29, 2009

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated nine U.S. charities as supporters of terrorism, seizing all property, blocking all funds and effectively closing all programs. In contrast, the for-profit corporations Halliburton and Chiquita Brands International have only had to pay fines for very similar alleged violations, and their operations have not been interrupted or shut down. There has been no explanation from OFAC.

Analysis: 2006 Treasury Dept. Voluntary Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines

May 21, 2009

On Sept. 29, 2006 the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury) released updated Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntary Best Practices for U.S.-Based Charities, its third version of recommendations for charities since 2002. The new Guidelines reflect Treasury consideration of public comments on a December 2005 revision of the original Guidelines, published in 2002. A new Annex provides an unconvincing explanation of Treasury's perception that terrorist abuse of charities is a substantial problem. The 2006 Guidelines place greater emphasis on their voluntary nature, saying charities should apply them to a degree commensurate with their risk of "abuse and exploitation" by terrorists. However, the fundamental problems that lead the nonprofit sector to call for withdrawal of the Guidelines remain unchanged.

Collateral Damage: How the War on Terror Hurts Charities, Foundations, and the People They Serve

May 11, 2009

This paper, published in July 2008, is the result of collaborative research conducted by OMB Watch and Grantmakers Without Borders. We believe charities in the United States and throughout the world play a key role in democratic systems by giving citizens a vehicle for participation, providing tools and information that help people get involved, and delivering assistance to those in need.

March 20, 2009 Panel Event- Friend Not Foe: How the Work of Charities Counters Terror

March 20, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009
Zenger Room at the National Press Club 

Charities perform work that counters global terrorism by advancing development, human rights, and conflict prevention. Rather than being embraced as a valuable asset in reducing the threat of terror, civil society groups have found themselves the target of counterterrorism policies and enforcement measures that are restrictive and intimidating. Barriers to prevent the financing of terrorism have created a chilling effect both donors and charities. Organizations are fearful of operating humanitarian relief projects in political hot spots. Opportunities to increase our security by reducing the root causes of terror are lost.

2007 Executive Order on Iraq Expands Problems for Charities

July 24, 2007

President Bush issued an executive order on July 16 that expands the government's authority to block the U.S.-based financial assets of individuals or groups in Iraq beyond those it designates as supporters of terrorism, to include those who act, or assist those who act, against peace and stability in Iraq. The order, titled Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, directs the U.S. Treasury Department to freeze assets of those who impede "efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people."

Legal Authority and Process of Office of Foreign Assets Control to Release Frozen Charitable Funds

November 6, 2006

The power of the federal government to release "blocked" assets seized from entities designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations for Specially Designated Nationals derives from the same statutory framework as the power to freeze and seize assets. These statutes — International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) as amended by the Patriot Act, and the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 — authorize the President to promulgate regulations governing implementation of these powers.

Side by Side Comparison of December 2005 and September 2006 Treasury Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines for U.S. Charities

October 6, 2006

This chart published by OMB Watch in October 2006 is a section-by-section comparison of the Department of Treasury's proposed revisions to its Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines: Voluntarhy Best Practices for U.S. Charities and final version, after Treasury received extensive public comments.  The chart includes commentary that points out problems with the September 2006 version.

Treasury Posts Risk Matrix for Charities

April 20, 2006

In March 2007, without public announcement or comment, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a Risk Matrix for the Charitable Sector on its website. The Introduction of the publication says the matrix is meant to help charities comply with U.S. sanctions programs that prohibit transactions with designated terrorists or certain countries.