Posted on November 12, 2004
Nonprofits Sue Over Federal Terror Watch List Policy
Nonprofits Sue Over Federal Terror-Watch-List Policy
A group of thirteen charities, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have challenged the Office of Personnel Management's Combined Federal Campaign requirement that all participating charities check their employees and expenditures against several government watch lists for "terrorist activities."
In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the charities charged that the government did not follow appropriate procedures in instituting the policy, that the policy is vague and misleading, and that it violates the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The ACLU and other organizations in the lawsuit withdrew from the CFC earlier.
"The charities of America are not qualified and do not have the resources to be police agents," said Kay Guinane, an attorney with OMB Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog and plaintiff in the lawsuit. "This policy sets a dangerous precedent and threatens the civil liberties and rights of Americans to join and participate in organizations. What's next checking our membership lists, our client lists, our donors?"
"Forcing charities to check their employees' names against a watch list will not make Americans any safer," added ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero. "The CFC policy threatens to disrupt a crucial network of charities that are dedicated to promoting and protecting American lives and values."
According to the New York Times, a spokesman for the Office of Personnel Management, which administers the campaign and was named in the suit, referred questions to the Justice Department, which, through a spokesman, said it would respond to the accusations in court.