October 2012

JFP 10/31: US to speak on Bahrain; Barak says Iran program delayed; US yanks SNC backing

Just Foreign Policy News, October 31, 2012
US to speak on Bahrain; Barak says Iran program delayed; US yanks SNC backing

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

*Action: Push the big TV talks shows to talk about specifics of the drone strike policy
Bob Schieffer responded to our call and asked a question about drone strikes in the presidential debate. Now let's press the big TV talks shows to get into the details of the drone strike policy - like attacks on rescuers. Urge the big TV shows to have the authors of the Stanford/NYU report on as guests.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/drones-debate-question-follow-up

*Action: FAIR: PBS and Iran's "Nuclear Weapons"
On PBS NewsHour Jeffrey Brown stated that "Iran's nuclear weapons program has been a particular flash point." Also on NewsHour, Ray Suarez referred to efforts to "halt [Iran's]
pursuit of nuclear weapons." Apparently PBS NewsHour didn't get the memo that according to U.S. intelligence, Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.

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Something Wicked is Brewing in Washington

The United States may be drawing down its longest war, but its second longest war seems to have just begun. November 3 will mark the tenth anniversary of the US's secret war of targeted killing—but according to a three-part series published in the Washington Post last week, US officials have no plans to draw this war down any time soon. [1] [2]

The Post's description of the program and its de facto head, John O. Brennan, are quite terrifying. A “dispositional matrix” that is said to be in development as a guide for targeting sounds like the title of a bad Hollywood thriller. US officials calling Brennan a “priest-like presence” and lauding his moral depth is not only horrifying, but seems to reflect the frightening moral vacuity of those running the US drone program. [3]

The Post series notes that there is little internal contention over the effectiveness of the drone program. Neither is there any espoused difference between President Obama and Mitt Romney's views on the matter, as evidenced by Romney's zealous endorsement of Obama's drone program during the third presidential debate. [4]

And yet, when pressed, supporters of the US drone program sound inhuman when making their defense. When former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, was asked recently to justify the killing of Anwar al Awlaki's 16 year old son—who was a US citizen—in a drone attack two weeks after his father was killed in another US drone strike, Gibbs' soulless response was to say that the boy shouldn't have had a terrorist for a father. [5]

Today, polls show that a majority of Americans support US drone strike policy. We're working to change that. Through education and grassroots organizing, we can turn the tide against current US drone policy, just as the tide turned against the Afghan war.

Robert Gibbs Blames Al Awlaki 16 Year Old Son's Death By Drone On His Having A Terrorist For A Father

Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was cornered recently to answer questions on US drone strike policy. One journalist, Sierra Adamson, asked that Gibbs justify the killing of Anwar al Awlaki's 16 year old son—who was a US citizen—in a drone strike two weeks after his father was killed in another US drone attack. Gibbs said al Awlaki shouldn't have had a terrorist for a father.

Here's the transcript:

SIERRA ADAMSON: "Do you think that the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son, who was an American citizen, is justifiable?"
ROBERT GIBBS: "I'm not going to get into Anwar al-Awlaki's son. I know that Anwar al-Awlaki renounced his citizenship."
SIERRA ADAMSON: "His son was still an American citizen."
ROBERT GIBBS: "Did great harm to people in this country and was a regional al-Qaeda commander hoping to inflict harm and destruction on people that share his religion and others in this country. And..."
SIERRA ADAMSON: "That's an American citizen that's being targeted without due process of law, without trial. And he's underage. He's a minor."
ROBERT GIBBS: "I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father. If they're truly concerned about the well-being of their children, I don't think becoming an al-Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business."

JFP 10/30: US interrogates Khan on drone strikes; UK says Iran war would be illegal

Just Foreign Policy News, October 30, 2012
US interrogates Khan on drone strikes; UK says Iran war would be illegal

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy

Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

Help your friends sign up to receive the Just Foreign Policy News
Do you know someone who might want to receive the Just Foreign Policy News? You can send them this link:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/daily-news-signup

Go Straight to the News Summary

I) Actions and Featured Articles

*Action: Push the big TV talks shows to talk about specifics of the drone strike policy
Bob Schieffer responded to our call and asked a question about drone strikes in the presidential debate. Now let's press the big TV talks shows to get into the details of the drone strike policy - like attacks on rescuers. Urge the big TV shows to have the authors of the Stanford/NYU report on as guests.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/drones-debate-question-follow-up

*Action: FAIR: PBS and Iran's "Nuclear Weapons"
On PBS NewsHour Jeffrey Brown stated that "Iran's nuclear weapons program has been a particular flash point." Also on NewsHour, Ray Suarez referred to efforts to "halt [Iran's]
pursuit of nuclear weapons." Apparently PBS NewsHour didn't get the memo that according to U.S. intelligence, Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program.

Tags:

Inspired By Recent Report, Law & Order: SVU Takes On US Drone Policy

The Law & Order francise has a reputation for plucking stories from newspaper headlines, but few have hit on pressing foreign policy matters quite like this. A recent episode of NBC's Law & Order: SVU featured a character plotting a terrorist attack in the United States. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the character's father was a doctor in Waziristan—and was killed in a secondary drone strike while attending the victims of the initial US attack. The storyline is obviously inspired by the Stanford/NYU report released last month, which accused the United States of having a policy of conducting secondary drone strikes against first responders in Pakistan. Here's the clip:

Bravo SVU team for helping to promote the report's findings to what is likely a whole new demographic. A June 2012 Pew poll showed that 62% of Americans support US drone strike policy. But where pop culture goes, the American public can't be too far behind.

Success! Now Tell Schieffer and Others to Follow Up on Monday Night's Drone Question

Just Foreign Policy supporters urged Bob Schieffer to ask a question on drones—and he did!

During Monday night's presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked a direct question on a candidate's drone strike policy, which is more than had been raised in any previous debate this election season. Unfortunately, Schieffer only asked Mitt Romney the question—and let President Obama completely off the hook.

But that doesn't mean that the question was a failure. Simply raising the issue during the debate has led to a wave of media interest in US drone strike policy. Perhaps the most notable discussion occurred on MSNBC's Morning Joe when Joe Scarborough, the host and a former Republican congressman, challenged Joe Klein's defense of US drone strike policy with a passionate and well-reasoned argument against drone strikes. [1] And that's a true victory.

If Morning Joe can have a substantive debate about drone strikes, then other top news talk programs ought to be able to do so as well.

Tell Bob Schieffer and other talk show hosts to follow up on Monday night's drone question by facilitating a real discussion about drone strike policy.

We learned at least one thing from Bob Schieffer's drone question: Mitt Romney supports President Obama's drone strike policy, and would continue it as president. However, Schieffer didn't press the point with Obama, claiming that “we know President Obama’s position on this.” [2] Schieffer's failure to ask Obama a question on drones was the topic of an article in the Washington Post, [3] and the lack of substantive debate on the issue inspired an article in Time detailing the real controversy drones have caused in Pakistan. [4]

Inspired By Drone Question At Debate Last Night, MSNBC'S Morning Joe Has Real Discussion on Drones

One benefit that has come from the simple asking of any drone question during last night's debate is that, today, people in the media are talking about drones, and in a far more substantial way than the candidates did last night.

One example is MSNBC'S Morning Joe. In the course of the commentator's discussion of last night's debate, Bob Schieffer's drone question came up. It was then that host Joe Scarborough, the former Republican Congressman, revealed himself to be a closet Code Pinker when it comes to drones. Scarborough confessed that he found US drone policy incredibly troubling, and presented a penetrating critique of US drone strikes. Joe Klein, on the other hand, defended Obama's policies, justifying the murder of four year-old Pakistani children with a "them or us" argument. In the end, three commentators, including Scarborough, said that they wished the debate last night had spent more time on the drones question.

Glenn Greenwald published an excellent critique of Klein's remarks over at the Guardian. A video clip of the discussion is below, as well as a transcript.

Why Didn't Bob Schieffer Ask Obama a Question on Drones?

We got a question on drones last night at the third and final presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. The mere asking of a direct question on the candidates' drone policies is an advance over the near complete void of talk on the subject so far this election season. The moderator, Face the Nation's Bob Schieffer, deserves some thanks for that. We learned that Romney supports Obama's escalation of the drone program and that he would continue the program. But that's it, because Schieffer only asked Romney his position on drones—and asked nothing of Obama. Here's the transcript:

SCHIEFFER: Let — let me ask you, Governor because we know President Obama’s position on this, what is — what is your position on the use of drones?

ROMNEY: Well I believe we should use any and all means necessary to take out people who pose a threat to us and our friends around the world. And it’s widely reported that drones are being used in drone strikes, and I support that and entirely, and feel the president was right to up the usage of that technology, and believe that we should continue to use it, to continue to go after the people that represent a threat to this nation and to our friends.

Israel Still Holding Gaza-Bound Passengers, Including Parliamentarians; Some Tasered

Israel Still Holding Gaza-Bound Passengers, Including Parliamentarians; Some Tasered
Video Disproves Israeli Government Claims on Estelle Cargo;
3 Israelis, 18 Internationals Held

Swedish Foreign Affairs Ministry Backs Ship to Gaza's Opposition to Gaza Blockade

This is a translation of part of a Swedish press report. I am responsible for the translation, in consultation with the Swedish media team of the Estelle.

The Swedish Government and the EU insist that there is a severe humanitarian situation in Gaza and that the border crossings must be opened; this is a position that happens to coincide with the "Ship to Gaza" position. Given that we believe that the blockade should be broken, it would have been reasonable that the boat should have been allowed to proceed, says MFA's press officer Anders Jörle to DN.se.

The Swedish original is here:

http://www.dn.se/nyheter/sverige/estelle-har-anlant-till-israelisk-hamn