ACLU testifies before House on anti-terrorism financing laws

At a hearing before a House Committee on Financial Services subcommittee today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) testified about the need for greater transparency and due process in the Treasury Department’s enforcement of anti-terrorism financing laws and its effect on charitable organizations. The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing was aimed at examining how anti-terrorist financing laws impact legitimate and lawful charities.
The International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), passed by Congress in 1977, clarified and limited the president’s power to impose economic sanctions on “any foreign country or a national thereof” during times of national crisis. However, shortly after 9/11, President George W. Bush invoked his authority under IEEPA to issue an executive order which designated 27 organizations and individuals as “specially designated global terrorists” (SDGTs), and authorized the secretary of the treasury and the secretary of state to name more organizations to the SDGT list. The USA Patriot Act further amended IEEPA to allow the government to block or freeze an entity’s assets even without a designation, by simply opening an investigation into whether it should be designated.   
IEEPA does not specify any standard of suspicion necessary to designate a charity as a terrorist organization and does not require notice or a meaningful opportunity to contest the allegations. No criminal charges ever need to be filed in order to effectively shut a charity down for good, and the charity need never be told what evidence or allegations led to its demise.
The ACLU is asking Congress to promote greater transparency and accountability in Treasury Department anti-terrorism financing enforcement. Specifically, Congress should reform the statutory framework for designation of SDGTs under IEEPA to ensure full due process protections and enact a statute for the seizure of assets of suspected SDGTs that complies with the Fourth Amendment.


One Response

  1. Read the whole transcripts of the hearing, including testimonies by Daniel Glaser (Deputy Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, U.S. Department of the Treasury), Kay Guinane (Program Manager, Charity and Security Network), Michael German (Policy Counsel, American Civil Liberties Union), and Matthew Levitt (Director, Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy) at

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