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Here Comes AIPAC, Lobbying For War

On Tuesday, after overcoming months of smears, hysterical rhetoric, and procedural obstruction, Chuck Hagel was confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense. We hope Secretary Hagel will help speed the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, help avoid war with Iran, and help cut the Pentagon budget, as groups who supported his nomination expect.

But one thing is in the bag: we showed that in Congress we could beat the Likud Lobby—the group of people in Washington that drove the opposition to Hagel's nomination. [1] This faction says that "unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel," as Barack Obama characterized their claims in 2008. [2]

Now the Likud Lobby is pressing the Senate to endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran. If the U.S. were to support such an attack, it would likely draw us into war.

If we could beat the Likud Lobby on Hagel, we can beat them on this.

Urge your Senators to oppose the AIPAC "backdoor to war" bill and to take steps towards peace with Iran and Palestine.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/aipac-2013

AIPAC is holding its annual policy conference next week, during which hundreds of pro-Likud activists will descend on Congress to push your representatives to support war with Iran and a continuation of the status-quo between Israel and Palestine. Here are three things you can ask your reps to do to promote peace instead:

  1. Urge your Senators to oppose the Graham bill endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran. Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that says that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically. [3] JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC's policy conference next week. [4] Urge your Senators to oppose this bill and to insist that the language endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran be removed.

AIPAC's "Backdoor to War" bill endorses Israeli attack on Iran

Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that would endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran.

JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC's upcoming policy conference.

The JTA article is here.

The Lindsey Graham bill is here.

JFP 2/27: Subpoena the drone strike memos; Former hostages push Iran diplomacy

Just Foreign Policy News, February 27, 2013
Subpoena the drone strike memos; Former hostages push Iran diplomacy

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Congress: Subpoena the Drone Strike Memos
On the outskirts of a House Judiciary Committee hearing today, Members of Congress mooted issuing subpoenas for the drone strike memos if the Administration doesn't hand them over. Urge them to do it.
http://signon.org/sign/congress-issue-subpeonas?source=c.url&r_by=1135580

Conyers at the Drone Strike Hearing: "this Committee requires those documents"
Today the House Judiciary Committee held the first ever public hearing of a full committee on the drone strike policy of either the House or Senate. In his opening statement, Rep. Conyers, the ranking Member, said about the drone strike memos: "I am pleased that we have reached a clear, bipartisan consensus on this issue: this Committee requires those documents to fulfill its oversight responsibilities, and we will work together to convince the Administration to satisfy our request."
http://democrats.judiciary.house.gov/press-release/conyers-statement-oversight-hearing-drones

The Real News: Secretary Hagel, Israel's Future, and the Pentagon Budget
The Real News talks to Just Foreign Policy, the National Priorities Project, and Bob Pollin about Hagel's confirmation, Israel-Palestine, and the Pentagon budget.

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OMG! Did Chuck Hagel say the A word?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse — Senate Republicans and their friends in the Greater Israel Lobby are using classic McCarthyite smear tactics to try to derail the confirmation of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham dug up an unsubstantiated report that Hagel once voiced concern over Israel “becoming an apartheid state”, and now the Lobby is making hay of the charge.

Unless we act now—we have until Tuesday when the Senate reconvenes—the Lobby could succeed in smearing a public servant for saying what many high-ranking Israelis, including former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have been saying for years. [1] [2]

Join us and our partners at Jewish Voice for Peace now.

Sign our petition to Senator Lindsey Graham telling him that he can't smear Chuck Hagel for having a mainstream Israeli view.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hagel-a-word

[More quotes from prominent Israelis using "the A word" can be found here.]

Graham and friends fail to understand that a responsible United States’ Middle East policy must include recognition of millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule without their basic rights, or inside of Israel as second-class citizens. Only then can we hope to reach a lasting peace for both peoples.

Israel’s many public officials who have talked about apartheid recognize this, but most Senate Republicans are acting as if full support of Israel’s settlement policies is required for the position of US Secretary of Defense.

Already, Christians United for Israel has called for President Obama to remove Hagel’s candidacy. And the American Jewish Committee has called for “further deliberation” on Hagel’s candidacy. Now 15 Senate Republicans have written to President Obama, demanding that he withdraw Hagel's nomination. [3]

JFP 2/21: Hagel attacked for allegedly warning of apartheid in Israel

Just Foreign Policy News, February 21, 2013
Hagel attacked for allegedly warning of apartheid in Israel

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Scott McConnell: The Hagel Foes' Self-Defeating Witch Hunt
A clip from Bill Maher's show drives home McConnell's point: Maher says that the statements of Republicans suggest that they are controlled by the Israeli government, and the audience applauds.
http://www.theamericanconservative.com/the-hagel-foes-self-defeating-witch-hunt/

Atlantic: Palestinian Filmmaker Detained on His Way to the Oscars
"5 Broken Cameras" director Emad Burnat: "Last night, on my way from Turkey to Los Angeles, CA, my family and I were held at US immigration for about an hour and questioned about the purpose of my visit to the US. Immigration officials asked for proof that I was nominated for an Academy Award for the documentary '5 Broken Cameras' and they told me that if I couldn't prove the reason for my visit, my wife Soraya, my son Gibreel and I would be sent back to Turkey on the same day... Although this was an unpleasant experience, this is a daily occurrence for Palestinians, every single day, throughout the West Bank."
Trailer for the film, which is available on Netflix, at the Atlantic link.
http://www.theatlanticwire.com/global/2013/02/palestinian-filmmaker-detained-his-way-oscars/62336/

BBC Video: How sanctions deprive Iranians of basic medication

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JFP 2/19: Could We Move Dianne Feinstein on CIA Oversight?

Just Foreign Policy News, February 19, 2013
Could We Move Dianne Feinstein on CIA Oversight?

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Do you live in California, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Maine, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Indiana, or Idaho?
If you do, you have a Senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Why not call them during the Senate recess, urging them to support a public hearing on CIA drone strikes? All the info you need is here.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1378

Could We Move Dianne Feinstein on CIA Oversight?
The Senate Intelligence Committee, which is supposed to oversee the Central Intelligence Agency, has never held a public hearing on CIA drone strikes. Indeed, in the year prior to the confirmation hearing of John Brennan to head the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee never held any public hearing on any issue whatsoever, which Steven Aftergood of the Federation of Americans Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy says "may be an unprecedented hiatus in the history of the Senate Committee."
If we could get a hundred calls into each of Feinstein's four California offices during the Senate recess - a fraction of a percent of the politically engaged, hard core opponents of the drone strike policy - do you think Sen. Feinstein might agree to hold a public hearing?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/could-we-move-dianne-fein_b_2707958.html

Senator Feinstein: Hold a Public Hearing on CIA Drone Strikes

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Are Dumb Foreign Policies Holding Us Back On Addressing Climate Change?

During his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to move the US forward on addressing climate change. So you'd think that rejecting the TransCanada Corporation's proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have a significant carbon impact if implemented, would be a no-brainer, right?

Not according to a recent New York Times report. After tens of thousands of activists descended on Washington this past Sunday to press the president to fulfill his promise on climate and reject the Keystone XL application, [1] the New York Times report claimed that the President faced a difficult decision: if Obama rejects the pipeline project as those concerned about climate change demand, he would provoke the Canadian conservative government to retaliate. [2] How? By not supporting bad US foreign policies!

Policies that are in the best interest of the American public ought not to be traded for policies that most Americans have no stake in. Tell President Obama to reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/reject-keystone

So why does the New York Times think Obama should be afraid of the Conservative Canadian government? One claim was that a rejection of the Keystone XL project would end up

causing a deep and perhaps lasting rift with Canada… a close ally on Iran and Afghanistan… Its leaders have made it clear that an American rejection … could bring retaliation.

But Canada has already withdrawn the bulk of its troops from Afghanistan—a war most Americans want to end anyway. [3] There are only about 950 Canadian soldiers left in Afghanistan, almost all of whom are there solely to train the Afghan army and all of whom will be withdrawn at the end of 2014. [4] And retaliation concerning Iran would take the form of—what, exactly? Less support for further sanctions on Iran, which are already keeping Iranian civilians from getting lifesaving medicines? [5]

Call the Senate Intelligence Committee: Hold A Public Hearing on CIA Drone Strikes!

If you live in California, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Maine, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Indiana, or Idaho, you have a Senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Please call one of your Senator's local offices on Monday—or anytime during the Senate recess this week when you can—and urge them to support a public hearing on CIA drone strikes in the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Local offices and phone numbers are listed below.

Our goal in this campaign is to get the Senate Intelligence Committee to publicly commit to holding a public hearing on CIA drone strikes before the Senate confirms John Brennan to head the CIA. (Not necessarily to hold a public hearing before then, but to get the Committee to publicly commit to holding a public hearing in the future.)

After you're done, report your call here.

If you don't live in one of the above listed states, please forward a link to this page to folks you know who do who might be willing to call.

Also, you can sign our petition to Senator Feinstein: Hold a Public Hearing on CIA Drone Strikes

Dianne Feinstein, California, Chair
San Francisco Office: (415) 393-0707
Fresno Office: (559) 485-7430
Los Angeles Office: (310) 914-7300
San Diego Office: (619) 231-9712

Ron Wyden, Oregon
Portland Office: (503) 326-7525
Eugene Office: (541) 431-0229
Bend Office: (541) 330-9142
LaGrande Office: (541) 962-7691
Medford Office: (541) 858-5122
Salem Office: (503) 589-4555

Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
Santa Fe Office: (505) 988-6647
Alburquerque Office: (505) 346-6601
Farmington Office: (505) 325-5030
Las Cruces Office: (575) 523-6561
Roswell Office: (575) 622-7113

Mark Udall, Colorado
Denver Office: (303) 650-7820

JFP 2/14: Brennan delayed over drone strikes; Feinstein urged to hold public hearing

Just Foreign Policy News, February 14, 2013
Brennan delayed over drone strikes; Feinstein urged to hold public hearing

Go Straight to the News Summary

I) Actions and Featured Articles

Could the Senate Intelligence Committee Do Oversight of CIA Drone Strikes?
Here's a straightforward reform of the drone strike policy: the Senate Intelligence Committee should do its job of CIA oversight. It can start with a public hearing. Such a hearing should attempt to establish whether it is true that the CIA counts all "military-age males" as "militants" when they are killed by a drone strike, and the implications of that for claims that civilian casualties are low.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/senate-intelligence-committee-drone-strikes_b_2681116.html

Senator Feinstein: Hold a Public Hearing on CIA Drone Strikes
The Senate Intelligence Committee has never held a public hearing on CIA drone strikes. Maybe that's why Senator Feinstein wasn't aware of reports that the CIA was counting every "military-age male" killed in a drone strike as a militant. The committee should hold a public hearing. Amnesty International backs this demand. Sign our petition at SignOn.
http://signon.org/sign/senator-feinstein-hold?source=c.url&r_by=1135580

5 Broken Cameras is on Netflix

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Could the Senate Intelligence Committee Do Oversight of CIA Drone Strikes?

Different Senate committees are supposed to do oversight of different federal agencies. The Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to oversee the Department of Justice. The Senate Armed Services committee is supposed to do oversight of the Pentagon. And the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to do oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the CIA is conducting drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and since this is, to say the least, a controversial policy, the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be doing oversight of that.

But contemplating the Senate Intelligence Committee's past oversight of the drone strike policy evokes the quote attributed to Gandhi when asked what he thought about Western civilization: "I think it would be a good idea."

Now that criticisms of the drone strike policy are getting some play in the press, people are floating ideas for various reforms. That's great! Let a hundred flowers bloom. But please call on me. I have an idea for a reform.

Why don't we ask the Senate Intelligence Committee to do its job of overseeing the CIA?

Now, you might think, that's a pretty arrogant claim, saying that the Senate Intelligence Committee has been asleep at the switch. Here, therefore, are three pieces of evidence for the claim.

Exhibit A: No public hearings.

Reporting on the Senate Intelligence Committee's confirmation hearing of John Brennan to head the CIA, Ken Dilanian of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Senate Intelligence Committee