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US vs NGOs equals Protectionism

July 24, 2008

RIGHTS-US: NGO “Blacklist” Unfair and Arbitrary, Groups Say

NEW YORK, Jul 23 (IPS) – In the name of “global war on terror”, the U.S. government is waging war on non-governmental organisations by applying “shortsighted, undemocratic policies” that are “constraining the critical activities of the charitable and philanthropic sectors, stifling free speech, and ultimately impeding the fight against terrorism.”

This is the conclusion of a new white paper prepared by two prominent non-governmental organisations, OMB Watch and Grantmakers Without Borders. OMB stands for the government’s Office of Management and Budget, the White House office responsible for devising and submitting the president’s annual budget proposal to Congress.

The report charges that the government views nonprofits as “conduits for terrorist funding and a breeding ground for aggressive dissent.” It accuses the courts of being “overly deferential” to the U.S. Treasury Department, which is responsible for conducting programmes designed to stem the flow of money to terrorist organisations.

It contends that federal agencies “ignore nonprofits’ calls for change,” and says, “Congress has not utilised its oversight powers to review counterterrorism programmes.”

The report says that the U.S. nonprofit community today “operates in fear of what may spark (the government) to use its power to shut them down.”

Collateral Damage: How the War on Terror Hurts Charities, Foundations, and the People They Serve

This paper is the result of collaborative research conducted by OMB Watch and Grantmakers Without Borders. We believe charities in the United States and throughout the world play a key role in democratic systems by giving citizens a vehicle for participation, providing tools and information that help people get involved, and delivering assistance to those in need. Since Sept. 11, 2001, we have witnessed counterterrorism programs erode the freedom and ability of charities and their funders to carry out their missions and improve the lives of the world’s people. We believe that this is damaging civil society in the United States and negatively impacting the nation’s reputation and effectiveness on the global stage. We hope this paper will serve as a resource for charities, foundations, and policymakers as they seek to understand the impacts that counterterrorism measures have on charities and as they look to develop more equitable policies that protect the inherent rights of charities and the people the organizations serve.

Gw/oB Releases Collateral Damage: How the War on Terror Hurts Charities, Foundations, and the People They Serve
On July 14, 2008, Gw/oB and OMB Watch released Collateral Damage: How the War on Terror Hurts Charities, Foundations, and the People They Serve. Collateral Damage documents the impacts that the war on terror is having on charities, foundations, and underserved populations around the globe. The authors make it clear that shortsighted, undemocratic policies are stifling free speech, constraining the critical activities of the charitable and philanthropic sectors, and ultimately impeding the fight against terrorism. Rather than recognizing the sector as a valuable ally in the war on terror, government unfairly characterizes nonprofits as conduits for terrorist funding and a breeding ground for aggressive dissent.
To read Gw/oB’s press release and the report, please click here.

According to OMB Watch and Grantmakers Without Borders, the current U.S. counterterrorism framework is not working well when it comes to U.S. nonprofits. Rather than recognizing the sector as a valuable ally in the war on terror, government unfairly characterizes nonprofits as conduits for terrorist funding and a breeding ground for aggressive dissent.

This is the Cause and Effect of a dysfunctional relationship between the US Government and the welfare of the world. The old habit of condemning a whole class for the sins of a few is rolling our consciousness backwards. This is bigotry and racism. As the US charts its course inward to self-preservation, the welfare of others becomes more and more conditional.

Protectionism is the name for withdrawing support for your neighbors, because you perceive someone has “wronged” you … everyone must suffer. Protectionism is frequently criticised as harming the people it is meant to help, instead of aiding them. This is where the US finds itself today. There is enough shame to go around.

“… in the face of this well-documented and ongoing success, are protectionists gaining so much traction by criticizing trade and calling for a return to a utopian, isolationist past that never was?

As it turns out, they’re part of a long, if not proud, tradition.

Protectionists throughout history have had great success exciting passions by appealing to fear: fear of lost jobs, fear of cultural dilution, and fear of the other. Protectionist rhetoric is a proven vote getter, so it’s no surprise to see it dusted off and trotted out like clockwork every election cycle.

What protectionists don’t have is a track record of being right.”

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