In a ruling that throws into doubt a key counterterrorism tool, a federal judge said the Treasury Department acted unconstitutionally three years ago when it froze the assets of an Ohio charity suspected of aiding terrorists, the New York Times reports. The ruling challenged a key tactic under an emergency executive order signed by President George W. Bush two weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks. If upheld, the ruling could require the government to get a warrant and submit to court review in moving against charities.
In the last eight years, the Treasury Department has used its authority to freeze tens of millions of dollars in assets held by eight charities in the U.S. and hundreds of other groups and individuals outside this country, all without warrants and court approval. The ruling was issued Tuesday by James Carr, the chief federal judge in northern Ohio. He scheduled a hearing for next month to determine how to correct what he said were constitutional flaws in the government's case.