Former President Jimmy Carter and other foreign policy experts want the United States to ease its sanctions on terrorist organizations so professional peace groups can legally work with them.
Carter, along with the Charity & Security Network, sent a petition
to Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday, asking that peace groups be exempted from policies that make it a crime to offer training in negotiation and humanitarian law to terrorists, reports The Hill
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"The Secretary of State can, and should, exempt peace-building activities from this counterproductive application of the law," the petition says. "Doing so would open the door for professional peace-builders to fully engage in helping to end armed conflicts and suffering around the world, while making the United States safer."
The Charity and Security Network said its past efforts to work with the Taliban in Afghanistan; Hamas in the Palestinian territories; and guerilla fighters in Colombia have all been hindered by federal laws, many of which were enacted after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
In addition, the Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that humanitarian aid fits the Patriot Act's definition of "material support" for terrorism, saying the aid frees up money used by terrorist groups for criminal activities while legalizing them.
The petition signees included more than two dozen groups and former officials. Among them: Mercy Corps; Andrew Natsios, the former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development under President George W. Bush; retired Ambassador Thomas Pickering; and Anne-Marie Slaughter, the director of policy planning at the State Department from 2009-2011.
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