Judge Strikes Down Bush on Terror Groups


Richard Moore

Original source URL:

November 29, 2006

Judge Strikes Down Bush on Terror Groups
Filed at 6:47 a.m. ET

q LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to 
designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was 
unconstitutional and vague.

Some parts of the Sept. 24, 2001 order tagging 27 groups and individuals as 
''specially designated global terrorists'' were too vague and could impinge on 
First Amendment rights of free association, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins 

The order gave the president ''unfettered discretion'' to label groups without 
giving them a way to challenge the designations, she said in a Nov. 21 ruling 
that was made public Tuesday.

The judge, who two years ago invalidated portions of the U.S. Patriot Act, 
rejected several sections of Bush's Executive Order 13224 and enjoined the 
government from blocking the assets of two foreign groups.

However, she let stand sections that would penalize those who provide 
''services'' to designated terrorist groups.

She said such services would include the humanitarian aid and rights training 
proposed by the plaintiffs.

The ruling was praised by David Cole, a lawyer for the Washington, D.C.-based 
Center for Constitutional Rights, who represented the plaintiff Humanitarian Law

It ''says that even in fighting terrorism the president cannot be given a blank 
check to blacklist anyone he considers a bad guy or a bad group and you can't 
imply guilt by association,'' Cole said.

He said the Humanitarian Law Project will appeal those portions of the executive
order which were allowed to stand.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman had a mixed reaction to the judge's 

''We are pleased the court rejected many of the constitutional arguments raised 
by the plaintiffs, including their challenge to the government's ban on 
providing services to terrorist organizations,'' Justice spokesman Charles 
Miller said Tuesday. ''However, we believe the court erred in finding that 
certain other aspects of the executive order were unconstitutional.''

The judge's ruling was a reversal of her own tentative findings last July in 
which she indicated she would uphold wide powers asserted by Bush under an 
anti-terror financing law. She delayed her ruling then to allow more legal 
briefs to be filed.

The long-running litigation has centered on two groups, the Liberation Tigers, 
which seeks a separate homeland for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka, and Partiya 
Karkeran Kurdistan, a political organization representing the interests of Kurds
in Turkey.

Both groups have been designated by the United States as foreign terrorist 

The judge's 45-page ruling granted in part and denied in part a legal challenge 
brought by the Humanitarian Law Project, which seeks to provide training to the 
groups in human rights advocacy and provide them with humanitarian aid.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press

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