His Administration can't seem to catch a break these days.
As some of you may have heard, Dubya finds himself at the center of an economic meltdown. And neither he, nor his trusted lieutenants, appears to have much of a clue about how to reverse it. (The Presidential candidates don't either.)
Adding more tsouris to this disaster, W's party's presidential candidate and his moosekin running mate appear to be imploding.
And while all that's going on, we learn - thanks to a couple of extraordinary whistleblowers -- that our intelligence folks were having a ball eavesdropping on the XXX pillow talk of American citizens living abroad.
Then there are those pesky "activist" judges, who keep throwing cases back at his Justice Department - the latest being a decision by a federal judge to release the Chinese Uighars from seven years of detention in GITMO into the U.S. (the Feds are appealing that ruling, of course).
Now, in what appears to be yet another stunning legal rebuke to the President's policies in the "global war on terrorism," a federal judge has blocked the government from blacklisting a Muslim-oriented charity to give the group a chance to defend itself after its assets were frozen almost three years ago.
In response to a request filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Ohio and several civil rights lawyers on behalf of KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development, Inc., Judge James G. Carr last week blocked the government from branding the organization as a 'specially designated global terrorist' "without first affording KindHearts with constitutionally adequate process," including notice and a meaningful opportunity to contest the basis for such a designation.
The judge ruled that the government's proposed action prior to a judicial review will cause KindHearts to "suffer serious and irreparable injury in the form of loss of reputation and goodwill."
Hina Shamsi, staff attorney with the ACLU National Security Project, said, "We are gratified that the judge recognized the importance of independent judicial review of the government's actions towards KindHearts. His decision also serves the public's interest in ensuring that government action, including in the name of national security, is subject to the constitutional requirements of due process."
Lawyers for the Ohio-based charity charged that it was effectively shut down without due process - "without notice of the basis for the freeze, hearing, finding of wrongdoing, or meaningful opportunity to respond to the freeze."
They say the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) froze the group's assets more than 31 months ago "based simply on the assertion that KindHearts was 'under investigation'. OFAC has since threatened to brand KindHearts as a 'specially designated global terrorist' based on classified evidence, again without providing KindHearts with a reason or meaningful opportunity to defend itself."
One of the lawyers representing the charity, Professor David Cole, a constitutional law expert at the Georgetown University Law Center, told us, "The legal regime employed in the name of cutting off terror financing gives the executive branch a 'blank check' to blacklist disfavored individuals and groups, imposes guilt by association, and lacks even minimal attributes of fair process."
He said, "With our return to a 'preventive paradigm' of preemptively weeding out threats to national security, guilt by association has been resurrected from the McCarthy era. While it was illegal in the 1950s to be a member of the Communist Party, it is now a crime to support an individual or organization on a terror watch list, although the government can designate and freeze assets without a showing of actual ties to terrorism or illegal acts."
"While the House Un-American Activities Committee once relied on the private sector to mete out punishment through the destruction of reputations and careers, today measures such as the Anti-Terrorist Financing Guidelines have turned funders into the new enforcers. In this light, he said the nonprofit sector has an obligation to resist such a partnership with government," he says.
Other observers believe that the campaign against charities that conduct programs in Muslim areas is part of a larger suspicion of Arabs and other Muslims. Samer Shehata, professor of Arab Politics at Georgetown University, told us that what he termed 'Islamophobia' "produces an environment that is fundamentally at odds with what the U.S. is supposed to be about; our values for treating everyone fairly and not discriminating on the basis of skin color, race, religion, gender, etc."
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