chapter  1
21 Pages

The United States

As the leading country in the ‘war on terror’, it is not surprising that counter-terrorism law and policy have provoked significant anxiety about the enabling legal, political, and policy environment for civil society in the United States. The impact of counter-terrorism policy and law on civil society in the United States has been both real and perceived, and it has spread across the full range of government action. This chapter discusses the most important ways in which counter-terrorism law and policy have affected the enabling environment for civil society in the United States, as well as the responses by American charities, foundations, and other nonprofits in the United States to US counter-terrorism policies and statutes since September 2001.1

These responses have taken many forms, some overlapping across nonprofit sub-sectors and some specific to particular parts of the nonprofit community or even a few institutions. Responses differ at times by public charities and foundations, for example, although at other times they have been allied in response to government initiatives such as the ‘voluntary guidelines’ on overseas giving. One particular subset of affected institutions, indicted Muslim charities, has had a more severe set of challenges and thus a differing set of responses. In the broadest sense, the American nonprofit sector has sought to maintain the autonomy and vibrancy of the sector and of individual organizations while agreeing to and acceding in the government’s interest in preventing nonprofit organizations from being conduits in terrorist finance or otherwise supporting terrorist organizations or goals.