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.”
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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.
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.
On May 17, 2018 a voice vote in the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act (HR 3030), the final text reflecting only technical amendments. The bill now heads to the House floor for approval. On May 29 a group of 59 nonprofit organizations, including the Charity & Security Network, sent a letter to Sen. Bob Corker, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urging swift consideration of the S. 1158, the companion bill in the Senate. In a statement applauding the House committee action, the Friends Committee on National Legislation noted that it ‘Ensures coordination among U.S. government departments to prevent global atrocities from occurring and requires training for Foreign Service Officers to identify early warning signs of genocide. It also requires the president to update Congress on measures to mitigate violence in specific countries, funding related to conflict prevention initiatives, and a global assessment of instability, conflict, and atrocities.” A video of House committee members’ statements in support of the bill shows strong bipartisan support.
On May 31 a federal court will hear arguments on whether a complaint brought against the Carter Center by the Zionist Advocacy Center (TZAC), which alleges that hosting conflict resolution meetings attended by Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), both designated as terrorist groups by the U.S., should be dismissed. TZAC alleges that hosting the meetings and serving water, fruit and cookies constitutes illegal material support. The Department of Justice (DOJ) moved to dismiss the case, saying that TZAC’s claims “are without legal basis…” TZAC filed the case under seal in November 2015 using the False Claims Act (FCA), which allows private whistleblowers to seek enforcement of U.S. law. The case was partially unsealed in January 2018. It raises significant questions about how far the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Holder v Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) goes in prohibiting communications and contact with listed groups.