New Palestine Protest/Free Speech Threat: House Oversight Committee Targets 20 Pro-Palestinian Organizations, Such as Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Demanding Treasury Produce Suspicious Activity Reports, Including on Employeees

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Genocide, um, Israel defenders are frustrated at their inability to stomp out US opposition to the slaughter. We published on an earlier alert by Lara Friedman, of legislation passing the House and Senate that would end the not-for-profit status of organizations accused of supporting the anti-Zionist protests as terrorist supporters. We will shortly turn to a new sighting by Friedman, that of the House Oversight and Education and the Workforce committee so-chairs setting forth what amounts to an enemies’ list of 20 organizations, and demanding that Treasury cough up suspicious activity reports on the groups themselves, their officers and all employees.

The only good news about the latest salvo is that it is way more bark than bite. But that does not mean it won’t, as intended, frighten a lot of people who have not worked that out.

We’ll return briefly to the earlier measure, of ending the not-for-profit status of Palestine rights advocates. The justification is that somehow Hamas is behind it. We included this sighting in our earlier post:

Under pre-existing law, organizations that actually were getting Hamas money or advocating for Hamas could be stripped of their tax-exempt status for promoting terrorism. The big nasty bit in the new legislation is the near-total elimination of due process rights, so that the “supporting Palestinians = supporting Hamas = supporting terrorism” can be treated as if it were true.

The new gambit is the creation of what sure looks like an enemies list. Hoisted from the letter embedded below:

1. Students for Justice in Palestine (including any individual chapter thereof);
2. Jewish Voice for Peace (including any individual chapter thereof)
3. Within Our Lifetime
4. American Muslims for Palestine
5. IfNotNow
6. Open Society Foundations
7. Rockefeller Brothers Fund
8. Tides Foundation
9. Bill &; Melinda Gates Foundation
10. Solidaire Action
11. Libra Foundation
12. Westchester Peace Action Committee Foundation
13. Muslim Community Network
14. Council on American-Islamic Relations
15. Center for Popular Democracy
16. Peace Action New York State
17. People’s Forum
18. Samidoun
19. Adalah Justice Project
20. Palestine Legal

Mind you, we are not saying these organizations are paragons of virtue. One colleague of the old left persuasion vented his considerable frustration about the lack of transparency among not-for-profits, particularly big ones. Treasury does not publish their tax returns, which are supposed to be public, on a timely basis, and in too many cases, pretty much not at all. This colleague is interested in the interplay between not-for-profit donations and what amounts to soft lobbying, which is not entirely kosher either (political advocacy not-for-profits are 501 (c) 4s, where the entity is tax exempt, but donations to it are not tax deductible). He also contends that there is a lot of donation washing among them, with some like Tides acting as top tier recipients and then distributing funds to others, masking original sources. He also believes that even the big ones pass money to each other. He seems to regard this as decidedly not on the up and provided a concrete example as to why., a suit by Black Lives Matter against Tides. I must confess to not having read it carefully, but the drift of the gist is that Tides held itself out as being able to help organizations like Black Lives Matter manage large donations, but instead is now refusing to turn the entrusted money over and has allegedly mismanaged it. 1

Update: As I was working on this post, The Hill posted a new article confirming our enemies list thesis. House Ways and Means Committee chair Jason Smith is demanding that the Chamber of Commerce ‘splain $12 million it received from Tides. From that article:

House Ways and Means Committee Chair Jason Smith (R-Mo.) has demanded the U.S. Chamber of Commerce answer questions about the more than $12 million its Chamber of Commerce Foundation received from the Tides Foundation, a left-leaning nonprofit, between 2018 and 2022.

In a letter last Monday to Chamber president and CEO Suzanne Clark and foundation President Carolyn Cawley, Smith said that the Tides grants appear to conflict with the Chamber’s mission to support American businesses and raise questions about the groups’ tax-exempt status….

The Chamber and the foundation say the probe is based on a misunderstanding. Eric Eversole, president of the foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program, told The Hill the funds the foundation received “were charitable contributions from corporations made to the donor advised fund,” a charitable giving vehicle that makes it virtually impossible to trace the ultimate source of the funds.

A Tides spokesperson told The Hill that Smith’s inquiry “is a politically-motivated PR tactic during an election year, driven by actors who disagree with the social justice work of Tides and our partner organizations.”

But Smith made clear he was not satisfied with the initial response.

“The mission statement for the Chamber is pretty obvious: to help American businesses,” he said. “Getting $12 million from Tides and then trying to say it’s really not from Tides, it’s from someone else, that makes me want to look harder.”

Back to the original post. So its is not as if the fever-swampy right doesn’t have a legitimate beef about the cozy practices of some of the big NGOs on the Democrat-friendly side. But that’s not what this House Oversight Committee action is about. It’s an attempt to intimidate.

Specifically, Suspicious Activity Reports are filed with Treasury by banks and other financial institutions when they see money-laundering-like activity. From Investopedia:

A suspicious activity report (SAR) is a tool provided under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) of 1970 for monitoring suspicious activities that would not ordinarily be flagged under other reports (such as the currency transaction report). The SAR became the standard form to report suspicious activity in 1996.

SARs can cover almost any activity that is out of the ordinary. An activity may be included in the SAR if the activity gives rise to a suspicion that the account holder is attempting to hide something or make an illegal transaction.

The SAR is filed by the financial institution that observes suspicious activity in an account. The report is filed with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, who will then investigate the incident. FinCEN is a division of the U.S. Treasury.

The financial institution has the responsibility to file a report within 30 days regarding any account activity they deem to be suspicious or out of the ordinary…The goal of the SAR and the resulting investigation is to identify customers who are involved in money laundering, fraud, or terrorist funding…

Some of the common patterns of suspicious activity identified by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network are as follows

A lack of evidence of legitimate business activity (or any business operations at all) undertaken by many of the parties to the transactions(s)
Unusual financial nexuses and transactions occurring among certain business types (for example, a food importer dealing with an auto parts exporter)
Transactions not commensurate with the stated business type or that are unusual compared with volumes of similar businesses operating locally
Unusually large numbers and/or volumes of wire transfers, repetitive wire transfer patterns
Unusually complex series of transactions involving multiple accounts, banks, and parties
Bulk cash and monetary instrument transactions
Unusual mixed deposits into a business account
Bursts of transactions within short periods, especially in dormant accounts
Transactions or volumes of activity inconsistent with the expected purpose of the account or activity level as mentioned by the account holder when opening the account
Transactions attempting to avoid reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

So the House Oversight Committee is asking Treasury to cough up existing SARs on its 20 suspect organizations and pretty much anyone working for them in an official capacity. Congress has that power. However, Congress cannot and this letter does not ask Treasury or financial institutions generally to engage in additional scrutiny of these 20 groups.

Importantly, Treasury has ignored requests like this. When the Republicans gained control of the House, they asked Treasury for the 100+ SARs on Hunter Biden. None has been produced.

So the value of this exercise is primarily the fear factor. And perhaps the House Oversight Committee gets lucky and the Treasury actually does have some SARs that fall within the ambit of this fishing expedition. You can be sure that the committee will waive the findings as a bloody flag, even if they are trivial in scale and/or explainable.

So while this is an exercise in threat display, it does show that Congresscritters seem intent on punishing too visible pro-Palestine speech and action any way they can. Expect more, and potentially more potent measures.


1 I would have embedded it, but in the absolutely discourteous way people generate documents now, even taking only the first 24 pages of a 285 page filing still produced an over 11 MB document, when WordPress will only take a 2MB upload. And don’t suggest reducing size. The tools I have will shrink it by only 20%.

00 Letter-to-Yellen-051424
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  1. chuck roast

    International sanctions, domestic sanctions, malign influences, illegal encampments, illegal and antisemitic activities, our precious bodily fluids! Makes my head spin. I’m writing to my senators and congressmen today to encourage them to set up a new bureau to coordinate oversight of all this communistic mayhem. I’m recommending that they call it the Office of Senate/House Investigations of Treason. OSHIT for short.

    1. Balan Aroxdale

      The US Government bureaucracies are unlikely to give up their “rule by by-law”, especially as it gels so well with private industry “self-regulation”. The two together offer up such nicely obfuscated governance synergies that you need to win court cases to even be able to file court cases that all of this is unconstitutional.

  2. Feral Finster

    When Congress openly and proudly seeks to jettison freedom of speech and association for the benefit of Israel, this ought to give the conspiracy theorists a field day.

    I mean, I couldn’t give the spittle-flecked keyboard warriors better material if I tried!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up. So now if you oppose genocide like the Nazis practiced back in WW2, that these days that makes you a antisemitic Nazi or something. i guess that some genocides are more equal than others.

  3. JonnyJames

    The rule of law, how quaint. Laws or not, the US has always brutally suppressed protests, freedom of speech etc. Kent State in 1970 is one big example. The brutal treatment of the Occupy movement is another more recent example. UC police flagrantly abused their power in 2009 and 2011 to beat the shit out of students and faculty protesting against austerity and kleptocracy.

    SCOTUS already legally defined money as free speech, unlimited political bribery is now formalized and legal. Us little people are not supposed to notice. All three branches of govt. are institutionally corrupt, the Constitution is defunct. That’s not important, the MassMediaCartel want us to focus on the Freak Show distractions of the DT/JB “election”: and any criticism of the US is simply Chinese and Russian propaganda.

    1. Chris Cosmos

      This situation is all about the fact that organized opposition to the authorities is getting harder. And yes, I know it was rough back in the old anti-war movement particularly with the actions of the FBI I knew some people who were victimized. The main difference is that the system though corrupt at times was not “systemically” corrupt as it is now.

      My recommendation is to focus on making community as best you can where you are because that’s the only possible source of power. Abstract “movements” are usually here today and gone tomorrow like Occupy. The technique has to be non-cooperation and all that entails.

      1. CA

        Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

        Georgia seems to be the latest battleground between the “rules-based order” and international law. *

        The Georgian parliament passed a “foreign agents” bill whereby media or civil society groups in Georgia that receive more than 20% of their funding from abroad will have to register as “organisations serving the interests of a foreign power”.

        Which should be entirely uncontroversial as it is completely in line with the UN Charter – the bedrock of international law – which prohibits foreign meddling into other countries’ internal affairs.

        Yet the US state department has called the bill “Kremlin-inspired”, said it violated “European Union norms” and made all kinds of threats against Georgia over it. For instance US assistant secretary of state Jim O’Brien warned that the US was prepared to sanction Georgian government ministers and officials over it: “If the law advances against EU norms and there is an erosion of democracy and violence against peaceful demonstrators, we will see restrictions from the United States. There will be financial and/or travel restrictions specifically on those responsible and their families.”

        The European Commission on Tuesday also said that the new law would undermine Georgia’s application to join the European Union: “EU member countries are very clear that if this law is adopted it will be a serious obstacle for Georgia in its European perspective”.

        It’s absolutely insane, yet sadly unsurprising. Just as we’re seeing in Gaza, countries that make up the “rules-based order” now systematically put themselves in direct opposition to international law if it conflicts with their hegemonic designs, and won’t hesitate to crush entire countries – or support genocide – for that purpose. We purportedly support “democracy” but insist that we dictate from abroad the internal politics of other countries as demonstrated by our extreme reaction against this law aimed to prevent foreign meddling.

        We need to face reality: we – the West – are under the stranglehold of an extremely aggressive expansionist ideology that is in complete contradiction with the values we claim to support. And when a society has such dramatic internal contradictions, history tells us it doesn’t exactly bode well for the future.

        * US warns Georgia not to side with Moscow against the West

        8:08 PM · May 14, 2024

        1. The Rev Kev

          And yet the Georgian law is based on the US’s on FARA Act meant to stop outside influencers. There must be a helluva lot of dark money flowing into those Georgian NGOs from the EU and the US is all I can say.

          1. CA

            “There must be a helluva lot of dark money flowing into those Georgian NGOs from the EU and the US is all I can say.”

            The same was evidently the case for NGOs in Hungary, and the same still again for Hong Kong…

            1. The Rev Kev

              I just heard that there are anything like 10,000 to 25,000 NGOs in Georgia. For a country that only has a population of 3.7 million.

  4. Carolinian

    At least the McCarthy hysteria was about supposedly protecting Americans from communism. This one is openly about protecting a foreign country’s interests from Americans. The anti-BDS laws were always an outrage but then we said nothing. What is happening is the probably inevitable next step.

    If some of us have been vociferous in our opposition to Haley it is because she is the perfect example of these bought and paid for politicians. Her powerful sponsors were her only selling point. One has to think that the next step after this will either be reform or a very bad place indeed.

  5. ChrisFromGA

    Even a bunny rabbit could figure out this is prima facie unconstitutional under the 1st amendment.

      1. urdsama

        You do realize at some point lack of enforcement on so many issues really means lack of a federal government for intents and purposes?

        1. JonnyJames

          On the one hand, the “law” is used selectively to further the interests of the donor class. On the other, the institutional corruption is becoming so great, that it will eventually cause some sort of collapse and decline in the ability of the US to project power abroad.

        2. ChrisFromGA

          Exactly. Legally, there is the concept of ultra vires. Which means that an act of a corporation that exceeds the scope of its charter is un-enforceable and legally void.

          Of course, thugs can continue to govern long after they’ve lost their legitimacy. See: Vladimir Zelensky. We’re getting close to the rule of thugs vs. the rule of law in the US. The judiciary branch is occasionally putting up a fight. See todays ruling on the CFPB.

          The US Constitution carefully separated the powers of each branch. To the extent that one branch usurps or abdicates (as Congress has) their responsibilities and powers from/to another, those acts are void. However, this system relies on the other branch fighting back when there is a usurpation. We see little appetite for that anymore, except in the judiciary on occasion.

          Of course, the thugocracy thing is happening in the US and we probably haven’t been a legal republic for many years. YMMV but some trace it back to the Federal Reserve act.

          1. Feral Finster

            I would say that separation of powers is great in preventing sociopath (or “thug” as you poetically call them) capture of the government, but it makes the thugs that much harder to root out when they have de facto captured all branches of government.

        3. Feral Finster

          But only sometimes. For example, suppose the 1/6 insurrectionists/protesters/whatever had decided not to march on Congress, but on NSA headquarters a few miles away.

          Anyone trying such a stunt would have been shot on sight, and nobody would be waffling or waiting for authority or orders from higher up to start shooting.

          The Constitution has long been a dead letter, ignored except when it serves the interests of the powerful. However, the “Protect Israel and Freedom Act of 2024” or whatever they call it will get the most expansive reading possible, and the Constitution shuffled aside to support that reading.

      2. Paul Art

        Is some organization somewhere planning to challenge this in court? Would be interesting to see SCOTUS take on this. They recently ruled against a lower court in favor of the CFPB in the issue of how it was financed.

    1. timbers

      A bunny rabbit yes, but not The Supreme Court. The Supremes are probably holding weekly meetings on how to word salad various “lack of standing” reasons for each circumstance that shuts the door on legal challenges.

  6. Anthony Martin

    Support a genocide in Gaza or get fired, get expelled, or go to jail. Be thankful that the University hasn’t hired the IDF to use AI to target such protesters with snipers or drones. Complain to a Congressman and get exiled. Heel to or else. The US land of the free and the brave, Hah.

  7. John W.

    The Open Society Foundations, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Tides Foundation, Bill &; Melinda Gates Foundation (and probably all of the others) are CIA/State assets or straight-up cutouts.

    This is The Lobby going to war though Congress against CIA/State.

    1. JBird4049

      Maybe it is Congress going to war with the deep state, a saying that I have read is “when the elephants go to war, the ants tremble.”

      What many do not realize is that censorship of any kind almost immediately goes beyond the original target. McCarthyism and the Red Scares were already destroying lives over mere legal membership in political parties as well as for free speech often decades in the past.

      When the first major investigations during McCarthyism were done, IIRC the State Department, the investigators almost immediately started questioning homosexuals and lesbians about their private lives – We know, or have testimony, or pictures of you going to the known gay/lesbian club. What do you know? – These were federal investigators who were blindsiding employees who had arrived thinking to be interviewed for suspected communist activities, but instead were being threatened over their private lives. This at a time when one could be criminally charged or socially ruined, made unemployable or lose their children for being a lesbian or gay.

      Same with censorship over pornography, books, and music almost always starts with “We need to protect the children!” Any ideas that might, in some vague way, somehow, hurt the tender minds of children must be controlled (eliminated)! Then there is the dreaded “hate speech,” which can be expanded over anything that someone somehow feels threatened over.

      And we can also look at all the domestic spying, policing, the mass use of scanners, cameras, and audio recording while using security guards, police, even national guard, first at airports, then courthouses, followed by schools, later at sports, concerts, public transportation, and other public spaces. And ever growing lists of forbidden items. First in the name of protecting us from terrorism, then criminals, then just to keep us “safe” from something while armed, unaccountable men give orders we must follow without complaint or go to jail or be put on a list such as the no-fly lists.

      The point of my rant is that whatever the reasons, it will create another precedent for more ways to censor, spy on, and control almost anyone over almost anything. The changes during the past forty years ago are vast with our society going from being lightly policed to living in a police state.

    2. hk

      I am curious:. McCarthy was stopped when he started going after the army. OTOH, Israel already went after the US Navy and won, thanks to the traitors in high places…

      1. JBird4049

        McCarthy overreached by going after the Army, but he was already creating enemies because of his tactics.

        However, people like the odious Roy Cohn, who was working for McCarthy, continued. HUAC went on for some decades. And Cohn was one of the people going after gays and lesbians in government for being so and it was common knowledge that Cohn was gay, but he was a powerful, well connected man, so nobody did anything against him using that fact.

        Much of American politics has always been about power and wealth with morality being the smokescreen of flaming bull****.

      2. rob

        Whenever mcCarthy comes up, I feel i need to pass on a story from a book called “rats in the grain” about the Andreas family and the company they ran ADM….
        It relates a story of how joe Mcarthy, a senator from wisconsin got the company a special permit for the company (adm) to sell a vegetable based lubricant used in the manufacture of aircraft/fighter engines to the soviet union during the korean war. These fighters are now known to have been flown by russian pilots against US troops in korea….
        The hypocrisy.
        The fact that politicians can say ANYTHING and DO ANYTHING…. at the same time….. has not changed one bit. the revisionists of history somehow got him remembered as being “anti-communist”….
        Luckily for the world… joe mccarthy died in 57. by then his schtik was already old…. two of his campaign staff had gone to jail for the crimes they committed while getting him in the office…
        How little has changed…. except then the bill of rights still existed…. now it doesn’t.

  8. John

    The committee is channeling HUAC. Calling Martin Dies, Parnell Thomas, Francis Walter. I actually have vague unpleasant memories pf all three. This gang seems to be on their level. Is it “The Lobby?” Why not. It, “The Lobby”, feels free to scold congress critters for not following orders.

    Will a day come when “The Lobby” is told to p–s off and take their money with them? Nah. That would require congress critters to care about something other than re-election and a cushy retirement. But I can also dream.

    Meanwhile the genocideers slake their blood lust. I am thinking that smarmy excuses aside, and with a few exceptions, the DC bubble is indifferent to the fate of the Palestinians. They should remember well that saying that begins, “First they came for the…”

  9. You're soaking in it!

    But where are the yippies of today to mock these clowns into irrelevance? Fear is far overriding the natural urge to say, “well, either way we lose, so might as well have a good time on the way out”.

  10. Tom Pfotzer

    Don’t let fear paralyze your mind.

    Remember: there are many more of us than there are of them.

    Fear is what keeps the many away from the fence.

    Contest the fear, and contest it where it actually is: in your own mind.


    Now let’s look at the other side of the fear coin.

    Consider: the Zionists fear a bunch of students. They’re terrified this will get “out of hand”.

    A bunch of students has got them buffaloed to the degree that they’re trying to hit the students with a Congressional sledgehammer.

    Think about that for a second. Whenever the response is so wildly out of proportion to the stimulus … ya know something else is operative, right?

    The zionists are panicked. Keep the pressure on.

    The other day I saw a post from a woman who said that she takes pizza to the college kids (protesters) once a week. She and her husband have written letters to their alumnus organizations, telling them “no donations until you get off those student’s back!”

    There are many little things that can be done to apply pressure.

    So apply pressure. The little things add up. They matter.

  11. James E Keenan

    Yves, I imagine most of us readers have never given any thought to the “right” or “wrong” ways of generating PDFs. I rely on the “Print as PDF” functions within word processing programs, email clients, web browsers, etc. How should we generate a PDF if its embedability is a concern?

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