ACLU on Executive Order     

ACLU Says Executive Order “Material Support” Provision Sweeps Too   Broadly and Will Restrict Humanitarian Efforts in Iraq (7/27/2007)   

The American Civil Liberties Union today issued a warning   about a little noticed presidential Executive Order recently issued by   the White House. Although the order is ostensibly aimed at supporters of   the insurgency in Iraq, the civil liberties group warned that its   sweeping provisions posed risks for residents of the United States and   for humanitarian work in Iraq.    The “Executive Order Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten   Stabilization Efforts in Iraq” authorizes the Treasury Department to   freeze and confiscate the assets of anyone determined “to have   committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing” acts of violence   with the “purpose or effect” of hindering the Iraqi government or   reconstruction efforts. But it also authorizes the freezing of assets of   anyone who provides “material support” to such a person or group,   whether or not the person’s support was knowing or intentional.

Further,   many of the Executive Order’s terms are left undefined, creating   ambiguity about what kinds of donations and services could be considered   to constitute material support.    “This Executive Order reaches far beyond criminal activity to activity   that may be entirely innocent,” said Jameel Jaffer, Director of the ACLU   National Security Project. “A person may find herself inadvertently in   violation of this order and there is no provision for judicial review.   It is a strangely undemocratic way to go about bringing democracy to the   rest of the world.”    The ACLU has raised objections to “material support” provisions in the   past. In May of 2006, the ACLU filed an amicus brief on behalf of   humanitarian organizations that are concerned with the government’s   sweeping interpretation of a law barring “material support” to   blacklisted groups. The humanitarian organizations are concerned that   the law, as interpreted by the government, will inhibit humanitarian aid   to desperate civilian populations living in conflict zones.   Organizations that signed onto the brief include Oxfam, Operation USA   and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

The Executive Order  recently issued by President Bush raises many of the same concerns as   the criminal laws relating to material support.    Another serious problem with the Executive Order is that it expressly   prohibits even donations of “food, clothing, and medicine intended to be   used to relieve human suffering.” The International Economic and   Emergency Powers Act prevents the President from banning such donations   unless he determines that the donations would seriously impair his   ability to deal with a declared national emergency. The President   declared four years ago that the threat to reconstruction in Iraq   constituted such an emergency, and the Executive Order specifically   invokes this exception.    “This order could have a serious chilling effect on charitable   contributions intended to ease the suffering in Iraq,” said Michael   German, ACLU national security counsel. “There is no requirement that   you even have to know that your assistance is going to a banned person   or group before your assets could be blocked. The order makes no   exception for humanitarian aid, even if it is necessary to save the   lives of people living in the war zone; it is going to tie the hands of   legitimate charities that are on the ground trying to do good work in   Iraq.”   

The Executive Order is available online at:

 ACLU testimony before Congress on the crippling effects of “material   support” laws on humanitarian efforts is online at:   

The ACLU’s amicus brief on behalf of humanitarian organizations   regarding the impact of “material support” laws is online at:

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