News, Editorials, and Opinions about Supreme Court’s June 21, 2010 Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project decision

July 15, 2010

Released on June 21, 2010, the Supreme Court’s Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (HLP) decision will have an adverse impact on the efforts of U.S. groups working on peacebuilding, conflict resolution and other activities in places where listed terrorist groups operate.   Below are news articles and editorials from major media publications, press releases and opinions from civil rights and civil liberty experts, including David Cole, the attorney representing HLP in the case. Background about the case is available here.

Al-Haramain v. Obama Decision Holds Wiretap of Charity Illegal

May 3, 2010

In a decision leaving Attorney General Holder and others in the Obama administration scratching their heads for what to do next, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern Federal District of California ruled on March 31, 2010 that the Bush administration illegally wire tapped phone conversations of an Islamic charity and two American lawyers without a warrant. 

Multimedia resources for the Supreme Court case: Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project

March 9, 2010

On Feb. 23, 2010, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project (HLP). At issue is the constitutionality of a provision in the USA Patriot Act that makes it a crime to provide “material support or resources” to any group that the government has labeled as a terrorist organization.

The Constitution Project and Charity and Security Network held a panel event where speakers discussed the case in regards to the First Amendment’s free speech provision and the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause. This event was broadcast on C-SPAN.

On March 4, The Kojo Nnamdi Show, a live two-hour magazine program on WAMU 88.5 based in Washington D.C, featured a discussion surrounding the issues involved in the Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project case.  The full transcript from that program is available here.

Examples of Negative Impact of U.S. Counterterrorism Laws on Charities and Philanthropy

July 1, 2009

U.S. counterterrorism laws and policies have had negative impacts that make it more difficult for charities and grantmakers to operate and in some cases, block donations for charitable programs from being used at all. The examples below, based on news reports and OMB Watch publications, illustrate this collateral damage. Changes in policy can support the work of charities, which often addresses the root causes of terrorism, without diminishing public safety. 

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.

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.

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.

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.