May 2012

JFP 5/30: CIVIC, Amnesty challenge drone strikes; Admin: "military-age men" = "combatants"

Just Foreign Policy News, May 30, 2012
CIVIC, Amnesty challenge drone strikes; Admin: "military-age men" = "combatants"


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I) Actions and Featured Articles

CIVIC, Amnesty International Challenge Admin on Signature Drone Strikes and Civilian Casualties
The Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict has initiated a letter to the Administration challenging it to be more transparent about its drone strike policy, particularly regarding "signature strikes" and civilian casualties. The letter has been joined by Amnesty International and others. The issue has been given more urgency this week by the New York Times' report that the Administration is counting "military age males" as "combatants" for the purpose of saying that few civilians are being killed by drone strikes.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1242

Kucinich/Conyers: Ensure Transparency and Accountability In The U.S. Combat Drone Program
The NGO letter tracks the Congressional letter initiated by Reps. Kucinich and Conyers.
Current signers of the Congressional letter include: Kucinich, Conyers, Holt, Jackson, Jr., Hinchey, Rangel, Stark, Honda, Grijalva, Filner, Lee. Urge your Rep. to sign: 202-225-3121.

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CIVIC, Amnesty, CCR et al letter to Admin pressing transparency on drone strikes

The PDF of this letter is here.

This NGO letter tracks a Congressional letter to the Administration pressing for greater transparency in the drone strike policy. That letter is here:

Kucinich/Conyers: Ensure Transparency and Accountability In The U.S. Combat Drone Program
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1219

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June 5, 2012

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As leading organizations working to protect civilians caught in conflict, we write in support of the request [1] by members of Congress for greater transparency regarding remotely piloted aircraft (RPA or drone) operations and, specifically, “signature” strikes.

We echo Congressional requests that information be released to Congress regarding US drone use including: targeting criteria for “signature” strikes; mechanisms used by the CIA and JSOC to ensure that such targeting is within the confines of international law, including which laws are being applied to these cases and definitions of a civilian; the procedure in place for investigations when civilians are known to have suffered losses of life, limb or property as a result of strikes; and mechanisms in place to track, analyze and publicly recognize civilian casualties.

PRESS RELEASE: Just Foreign Policy Launches Haiti Cholera Counter to Press UN to Take Lead in Addressing Crisis

Just Foreign Policy issued a press release this morning announcing the launch of its new Haiti cholera counter. The release may be found here as well as below.

***

Just Foreign Policy Launches Haiti Cholera Counter to Press UN to Take Lead in Addressing Crisis

For Immediate Release
May 29, 2012

Media Contacts:
Robert Naiman, 217-979-2957, naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
Megan Iorio, 908-400-9480, iorio@justforeignpolicy.org

Washington DC, May 29 - It has been 591 days since Jean Salgadeau Pelette died on October 16, 2010. Pelette is considered to be the first victim of the ongoing cholera epidemic in Haiti, which began when UN troops from South Asia carried the bacteria to the previously cholera-free nation. Since then, an estimated 546,955 Haitians have fallen ill and 7,172 have died, according to Just Foreign Policy's new web counter.

Yet, not only has the UN refused to accept formal responsibility, but it has done little to help treat, prevent, and control the disease.

"The failure of the United Nations to lead in addressing the cholera crisis in Haiti would be outrageous enough, even if the UN had nothing to do with bringing cholera to Haiti," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. "The role of UN troops in sparking the crisis makes the UN's failure to act scandalous."

JFP 5/23: Congress says no auth for Iran war; Iran demands sanctions relief; anti-austerity bid at ILO

Just Foreign Policy News, May 23, 2012
Congress says no auth for Iran war; Iran demands sanctions relief; anti-austerity bid at ILO
 

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Avaaz Community Petition: Support targetted boycott of Israeli Settlement Goods
Someone in Ireland has put up a petition at Avaaz' community petition site, supporting the Irish government's threat to push for an EU boycott of settlement goods if Israel does not change its settlement policy. If you're already a member of Avaaz, signing the petition takes five seconds. Why not do so? http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Support_targetted_boycott_of_Israeli_Settlement_Goods

Would It Make a Difference to Progressives if Norman Solomon Goes to Congress?
If Norman Solomon goes to Congress, he would have a powerful national platform to oppose wars of choice, and his staff would be helping anti-war initiatives move through Congress.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/would-it-make-a-differenc_b_1536625.html

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JFP 5/22: IAEA chief sees deal on Parchin; South Africa to label settlement products

Just Foreign Policy News, May 22, 2012
IAEA chief sees deal on Parchin; South Africa to label settlement products


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. Help us press for an end to the war in Afghanistan and spread opposition to a new war with Iran,
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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Would It Make a Difference to Progressives if Norman Solomon Goes to Congress?
If Norman Solomon goes to Congress, he would have a powerful national platform to oppose wars of choice, and his staff would be helping anti-war initiatives move through Congress.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/would-it-make-a-differenc_b_1536625.html

Center for Constitutional Rights: Tell Congress: End Military and Police Aid to Honduras
The US is supporting repression through direct financing of Honduras' police and military. A group of Congress members have initiated a letter to Secretary of State Clinton, urging the State Department to denounce the human rights violations in Honduras and to end aid to Honduras' police and military. Contact your representative before May 25, and ask that they sign on to this Congressional letter.
http://ccrjustice.org/get-involved/action/tell-congress%3A-end-military-and-police-aid-honduras

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JFP 5/21: Vets return medals in NATO protest; Honduran survivors dispute U.S. account

Just Foreign Policy News, May 21, 2012
Vets return medals in NATO protest; Honduran survivors dispute U.S. account


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. Help us press for an end to the war in Afghanistan and spread opposition to a new war with Iran,
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I) Actions and Featured Articles

In Chicago, Afghanistan and Iraq Veterans Put NATO's Endless War on Trial
At the intersection of Cermak and Michigan streets in Chicago yesterday, veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq told their stories when they threw back their service medals in protest at NATO leaders, echoing a famous protest against the Vietnam War. More than two million Americans have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. CNN and Fox can focus on what they want, but you can't hide the life experiences of two million people indefinitely.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/nato-summit-protests_b_1532837.html

Democracy Now: "No NATO, No War": U.S. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan Return War Medals at NATO Summit
http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/21/no_nato_no_war_us_veterans

ABC News Video: Veterans return medals during NATO protest
http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8669859

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JFP 5/18: GOP cops nixing Afghan vote in fear; anon officials diss civilian death claim

Just Foreign Policy News, May 18, 2012
GOP cops nixing Afghan vote in fear; anon officials diss civilian death claim


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. Help us press for an end to the war in Afghanistan and spread opposition to a new war with Iran,
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I) Actions and Featured Articles

House GOP Leaders Block Amendment Solidifying Afghanistan Withdrawal Timeline
By refusing to allow a vote on the McGovern-Jones amendment, the GOP leadership exposed the Achilles heel of the war policy. Until now the Administration has gotten away with a having a two-faced policy: presented to the American people as a timetable for withdrawal, but understood by the Pentagon and the Republican leadership as allowing tens of thousands of U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan forever. Now we know how to kill the Pentagon's fantasy of keeping tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan forever: nail the Administration's pseudo-timetable for withdrawal to the wall.
http://truth-out.org/news/item/9241-how-house-gop-leaders-silenced-support-for-amendment-solidifying-afghanistan-withdrawal-timeline

John Isaacs: House GOP Wins on Defense Bill Using Sleazy Tactics
The House Republican leadership carefully picked amendments permitted to be offered on the House floor and barred others they weren't sure they could defeat.

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On Afghanistan, the Pentagon Has Lost the American People

"I can't let this be a war without end, and I can't lose the whole Democratic Party." That was President Obama, describing his Afghan war policy, according to Bob Woodward's 2010 book. But until this moment the Administration is still letting it be a war without end, and the Afghan war policy has lost not only the whole Democratic Party, but a substantial part of the Republican Party as well: the majority of Republican voters, for example.

 

One thing the Afghan war policy hasn't lost: the GOP leadership. That was demonstrated Wednesday night when the GOP leadership blocked consideration in the House of a bipartisan amendment offered by Democrat Jim McGovern and Republican Walter Jones that would have nailed to the wall the current slippery "timetable" for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

CNN reports:

 

House Republicans pulled the plug on a vote Thursday on a bipartisan amendment to a defense bill that would force the Obama administration to stick firmly to its timetable for getting U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

 

Republicans were concerned the amendment could pass, according to two GOP congressional sources.

 

JFP 5/17: House GOP Leadership Blocks McGovern Amendment; Honduras Killings Probed

Just Foreign Policy News, May 17, 2012
House GOP Leadership Blocks McGovern Amendment


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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. Help us press for an end to the war in Afghanistan and spread opposition to a new war with Iran,
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I) Actions and Featured Articles

GOP Admits It Lacks Votes for Afghan War
The House GOP leadership blocked consideration of the McGovern amendment - an implicit admission that they couldn't stop enough Republicans from supporting it to prevent it from passing.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/gop-admits-lacks-votes-fo_b_1524957.html

more NDAA updates:
Lee amendment to end the Afghan war failed 113-303. Roll call here: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll264.xml
Kucinich-Conyers amendment to limit drone strikes failed on voice vote.

*Action: Support Turkey's Opposition to Israeli Government's Participation in NATO Summit

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Kucinich/Conyers drone strike amendment made in order; talking points

The Kucinich-Conyers amendment to prohibit the military from conducting drone strikes against unidentified targets ("signature strikes") has been made in order.

http://www.rules.house.gov/Legislation/legislationDetails.aspx?NewsID=828

http://www.rules.house.gov/amendments/KUCINI_055_xml514121743264326.pdf

I have heard that it will be considered early.

Some things worth noting:

- Whatever one thinks about drone strikes against specific suspected terrorist leaders, nothing in the amendment would prevent them. If the amendment were law and policy, it would not have prevented the recent killing of Fahd al Quso, the senior commander of al Qaeda's wing in Yemen, who was killed in a drone strike two weeks ago; he was specifically targeted based on intelligence indicating where he was. The amendment only prohibits the military from conducting a drone strike when it does not know who it is targeting.

- The amendment only applies to the military, that is, to the Joint Special Operations Command, not to the CIA. According to press reports, JSOC is not carrying out drone strikes in Pakistan. According to the Washington Post, JSOC did not ask for authority to conduct "signature" drone strikes in Yemen, but they were granted it anyway.

- According to the Washington Post, senior U.S. officials expressed concern about authorizing "signature" drone strikes in Yemen, both because it would increase the risk of civilian casualties, and because by killing "militants" who have a dispute with the Yemeni government but not with the U.S., such strikes would increase the perception that the U.S. is taking sides in Yemen's civil war.

- Just in the last week, Yemeni officials say that a U.S. drone strike killed eight civilians in Yemen, CNN reported 5/15.