08.02.11

Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On Application Of Material Support Laws To Humanitarian Relief In Somalia

“I have long urged reform of our laws governing so-called material support for terrorism.  The current law is so broad as to be unworkable.  Aid workers trying to provide relief to starving Somalis fear they could be prosecuted if some of it were to end up in the hands of al-Shabab, an al Qaeda affiliate that controls parts of Somalia.  And so while the situation in Somalia grows more desperate each day, with children dying needlessly, the delivery of food and medicines is hampered, first by al-Shabab, which is denying access to broad swaths of Somali territory, and secondly, by our overly restrictive laws.  The Secretary of State has the power to grant exemptions where the purpose is not to engage in terrorist activity.  She should use that authority immediately to ensure aid can reach as many Somalis as possible.”

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On August 3, Senator Leahy sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton regarding humanitarian relief in Somalia.

Click here to view the text of the letter.

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