High Court Asked to Review Treasury Department Refusal to Reveal Dollar Holdings of Arab States in T

The American Jewish Congress has asked the Supreme Court to intervene in its two-year battle to compel the Treasury Department to reveal the extent of Arab dollar holdings in the United States.

The Jewish organization has filed a petition with the high court asking it to review lower court rulings that have held the government has a right to bar disclosure of American holdings of individual Arab states.

The government says it is justified in withholding the data on the grounds that disclosure would harm national security, although the International Investment Survey Act of 1976 requires the Treasury to collect and publish data about foreign investment in the United States. AJCongress says the national security issue is merely a pretext for hiding the extent of Arab financial power and influence in this country.

The decision to petition the Supreme Court to hear the case was announced by Joel Levy, a prominent Washington attorney and vice president of AJCongress, who argued the case in the lower courts. The suit against the Treasury Department was brought by the Jewish organization in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the Administration rejected a request for data on Arab dollar holdings submitted by AJCongress under the Freedom of Information Act.

1982 DECISION CITED

In a 1982 decision, Washington, D.C. federal district Judge Barrington Parker ruled that Treasury was not required to divulge the information. He agreed, however, that AJCongress was probably correct in charging that the OPEC countries were being given “special preferential treatment.”

He also appeared to agree with the AJCongress contention that national security was not involved, contrary to the Treasury Department claim. But he held, nevertheless, that because the Constitution gives a “special role” to the executive branch on matters concerning “foreign intelligence,” Treasury’s refusal to release the requested data should not be questioned by the court.

AJCongress brought the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit which upheld the ruling of the district court. The Jewish organization contends Judge Parker’s reading of the International Investment Survey Act was wrong, as was the decision of the appeals tribunal upholding the district court ruling.

AJCongress has claimed from the onset of its suit that a principal reason for the government’s refusal to divulge the holdings of individual states was a 1974 “private” commitment made to Arab governments by then Secretary of the Treasury William Simon that Treasury would protect the Arab countries from public knowledge of the extent of Arab dollar holdings in the U.S. The purpose of the arrangement, according to AJCongress, was to induce the Arabs to purchase U.S. Treasury securities with oil profits, free from public scrutiny.

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