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An Important Opportunity to Support US-Iran Talks

The recent Iranian presidential election marks an important opportunity to promote US-Iran talks. Hassan Rouhani was selected in a decisive first-round vote. Rouhani ran on a platform of engaging with the world and has promised to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace,” saying that both the US and Iran “need to think more about the future and try to sit down and find solutions to past issues and rectify things.” [1] [2]

A bipartisan group of representatives led by Republican Charles Dent and Democrat David Price are seizing this opportunity by gathering signatures on a letter urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage in diplomacy with Iran. Tell your Representative to sign on today.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/dent-price

Some in the media and Congress have been saying that Rouhani's election doesn't mean anything and that it shouldn't affect US engagement with Iran. While it remains to be seen whether Rouhani will be a boon to US-Iran relations, there are reasons to be optimistic. For one, President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric was often used as an excuse for US disengagement, so a change of guard deflates many anti-diplomacy arguments. And although the highest authority in Iran remains Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Rouhani's landslide victory over his "hardline" rivals-he garnered 51% of the electorate, compared to 17% for the runner-up, in one of the highest voter turnouts in an Iranian presidential election-is being seen by many as a mandate for a more moderate government perspective, both at home and abroad. [4] Ignoring the pro-diplomacy results of the election would undercut those in Iran who want a diplomatic solution and embolden those who want confrontation.

Dent-Price Letter Promoting US-Iran Talks

Below is a bipartisan congressional sign-on letter being organized by Reps. Charles Dent and David Price urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran following the election of Hassan Rouhani as president. Tell your Representative to sign.

July XX, 2013

Dear President Obama:

As Members of Congress who share your unequivocal commitment to preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, we urge you to pursue the potential opportunity presented by Iran's recent presidential election by reinvigorating U.S. efforts to secure a negotiated nuclear agreement.

As you know, on June 14 the Iranian people elected Hassan Rouhani president with over 50 percent of the vote in the first round, overcoming repression and intimidation by the Iranian government to cast their ballots in favor of reform. Dr. Rouhani campaigned on the promise to “pursue a policy of reconciliation and peace” and has since promised “constructive interaction with the outside world.” As Iran’s former lead nuclear negotiator, he has also publicly expressed the view that obtaining a nuclear weapon would run counter to Iran’s strategic interests and has been critical of the nuclear “extremism” of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

We are mindful of the limitations of the Iranian presidency within the country’s political system, of the fact that previous Iranian presidents elected on platforms of moderation have failed to deliver on promised reforms, and of the mixed signals that Dr. Rouhani himself has sent regarding Iran’s nuclear ambitions. It remains to be seen whether his election will indeed bring significant change with regard to Iran's relations with the outside world. His government’s actions will certainly speak louder than his words.

Obey the Law: U.S. Must Cut Aid to Egypt After Military Coup

Last week, there was a military coup in Egypt that removed the democratically elected president from office. Yesterday, the Egyptian military killed more than 50 people who were protesting the coup. [1]

No matter what one thinks of President Morsi, a coup is a coup. By longstanding U.S. law, U.S. aid to Egypt—which happens to be mostly military aid—must be suspended until a democratically elected government takes office. If the law isn’t followed in this case, it will send a signal to U.S.-supported militaries around the world that they can overthrow elected governments without jeopardizing U.S. military aid.

Demand that President Obama follow the law, and urge your Representative and Senators to insist that he do so.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/egypt-coup

The law says: [2]

Coups d'Etat

Sec. 7008. None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to titles III through VI of this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree or, after the date of enactment of this Act, a coup d'etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role: Provided, That assistance may be resumed to such government if the President determines and certifies to the Committees on Appropriations that subsequent to the termination of assistance a democratically elected government has taken office: Provided further, That the provisions of this section shall not apply to assistance to promote democratic elections or public participation in democratic processes: Provided further, That funds made available pursuant to the previous provisos shall be subject to the regular notification procedures of the Committees on Appropriations.

Operation Exodus: The Snowden Accompaniment Flytilla to Political Asylum in Venezuela

On Friday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that Venezuela would offer political asylum to NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

Regardless of what happens next, President Maduro's announcement was world-historical. With his announcement, Maduro has invited Americans to live in a new world: a "multi-polar" world in which the U.S. government's power is limited, not by a single "superpower adversary," but by the actions of many independent countries which are not U.S. "adversaries"; countries which agree with the U.S. on some things and disagree with the U.S. on other things, as is their right; countries which do not always accede to U.S. demands, as is their right. The day after Snowden claims political asylum in Venezuela, the U.S. and Venezuela will continue their robust economic trade; in particular, Venezuela will continue to be one of the top four suppliers of foreign oil to the United States.

It's a general constant in human affairs that no-one likes to be told that they have too much power for the general welfare. Nonetheless, we're all capable, when we want, of seeing things from the other guy's point of view.

And from the point of view of most people in the world, it's not a good thing for the United States to have too much power in world affairs; from the point of view of most people in the world, it's not a good thing for any one country to have too much power in world affairs.

JFP 7/3: If They Can Lie About NSA/Snowden, They Can Lie About Syria & Iran

Just Foreign Policy News, July 3, 2013
If They Can Lie About NSA/Snowden, They Can Lie About Syria & Iran

I) Actions and Featured Articles

If They Can Lie About NSA/Snowden, They Can Lie About Syria and Iran
If DNI Clapper can lie to Congress about the NSA’s data collection on millions of Americans and face no consequences, what’s to stop him from lying to Congress about military escalation in Syria or Iran?
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17369-if-they-can-lie-about-nsa-snowden-they-can-lie-about-syria-and-iran

**Action: Tell your Senators and Rep. to Assert Syria War Powers
The Obama Administration has announced that the U.S. would arm Syrian rebels and consider imposing a no-fly zone over Syria, which would mean bombing Syria. Congress has neither authorized arming Syrian rebels nor imposing a no-fly zone. A bipartisan group of Senators (Udall/Paul S. 1201) and Representatives (Gibson/Welch H.R. 2494) have introduced legislation that would prohibit U.S. military intervention in Syria without explicit Congressional authorization. Urge your Senators and Rep. to co-sponsor.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-war-powers

Guardian LiveBlog: Edward Snowden not on Bolivian president's diverted plane
Bolivia furious after president's plane diverts to Austria
Foreign minister: France and Portugal denied airspace permits
Snowden apparently not on board after Vienna landing
Bolivia accuses United States of 'hostile act'
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/03/edward-snowden-asylum-live

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Catholic Priest Killed by Syrian Rebels? Tell Congress to Stand Up

The U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution insist that absent an armed attack on the United States, Congress shall decide when to authorize the use of U.S. military force. But apparently the Obama Administration has different ideas.

The Administration has announced that the U.S. will arm rebels in Syria and is considering a "no fly zone," which would mean bombing Syria. Congress has authorized neither.

A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives is standing up, led by Sens. Tom Udall and Rand Paul in the Senate, and Reps. Peter Welch and Chris Gibson in the House. They've introduced legislation that would expressly prohibit the Obama Administration intervening militarily in Syria's sectarian civil war without explicit Congressional authorization. Urge your Senators and Representative to stand up and support this legislation.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-war-powers

Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Rick Nolan (D-MN), and Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R. 2494) to block U.S. military intervention in Syria without an affirmative vote of Congress. [1] Identical legislation (S. 1201) has been introduced in the Senate by Sens. Tom Udall (D-NM), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT). [2]

Sending military assistance to Syrian rebels, or any direct military intervention, would lead to Americanization of Syria's sectarian civil war. Congress and the American people should be part of a vigorous debate before any such military escalation takes place.

JFP 7/1: Yemen May Ban Drone Strikes; Snowden Revelations Roil Europe

Just Foreign Policy News, July 1, 2013
Yemen May Ban Drone Strikes; Snowden Revelations Roil Europe

I) Actions and Featured Articles

Celebrities, Whistleblowers Lead Petition to Ecuador for Snowden's Political Asylum
Petition Has Over 23,000 Signers

Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, John Cusack, Amber Heard, Shia LaBeouf, Roseanne Barr, and musician Boots Riley have joined Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg and Iraq War whistle-blower Joe Wilson, author Noam Chomsky and many other prominent whistle-blowers, activists, former intelligence and military officers, academics and others in calling on Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to grant whistle-blower Edward Snowden political asylum.
Press Release:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1424
Letter:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1421
Petition:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/snowden

Yemen's "Schoolhouse Rock" vs. the "War on Terror": A Conversation With Baraa Shiban
Baraa Shiban says Yemen's National Dialogue Conference – Yemen's Constitutional Convention, as it were – may prohibit drone strikes in the country. This proposal may be voted on in the next few days. Baraa says he is confident that it will be approved. On Tuesday, June 25, I conducted the following interview with Baraa via Skype.
http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/17291-yemens-schoolhouse-rock-vs-the-war-on-terror-a-conversation-with-baraa-shiban

RootsAction/Just Foreign Policy: Hands Off Snowden!

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Celebrities, Whistleblowers Lead Petition to Ecuador for Snowden's Political Asylum

Celebrities, Whistleblowers, Lead Petition to Ecuador for Snowden's Political Asylum

Petition Has Over 23,000 Signers

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2013
Contact: Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, (202) 448-2898

Washington, D.C. - Oliver Stone, Danny Glover, John Cusack, Amber Heard, Shia LaBeouf, Roseanne Barr, and musician Boots Riley have joined Vietnam War whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg and Iraq War whistleblower Joe Wilson, author Noam Chomsky and many other prominent whistle-blowers, activists, former intelligence and military officers, academics and others in calling on Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa to grant whistle-blower Edward Snowden political asylum. The full letter and list of prominent signers was circulated by the organization Just Foreign Policy and is posted on the group’s website.

The letter is here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/1421

The petition is here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/snowden

"We're proud to stand with patriotic American whistleblowers like Dan Ellsberg, Coleen Rowley, Joe Wilson and Thomas Drake in appealing to President Correa to grant political asylum to Edward Snowden," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. "For democracy to work, Americans have to be able to find out what our government is doing. Unprecedented government secrecy and an unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers are threatening the ability of Americans to control their government. If President Correa grants asylum to Snowden, all Americans who love freedom will be in his debt."

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Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, Tom Hayden le solicitan al Presidente Correa le conceda asilo político a Edward Snowden

Another Spanish translation is posted online here. The English is here. A French version is here. To sign this statement you can click here.

Estimado Presidente Correa,

Le escribimos para urgirle a proporcionar asilo político a Edward Snowden, alertador norteamericano.

Las revelaciones hechas por Snowden han hecho mucho para revelar la escala alarmante de espionaje por parte del gobierno de los Estados Unidos hacia sus propios ciudadanos y otras personas alrededor del mundo. Las revelaciones han divulgado el sobrealcance desmesurado de la Agencia Nacional de seguridad (NSA) de Estados Unidos, la cual procura recopilar una abrumadora e invasiva cantidad de información sobre individuos dentro de los estados Unidos. Snowden también ha revelado como la constante vigilancia también aplica a millones de personas fuera de los Estados Unidos, cuyas llamadas telefónicas, correos electrónicos, y otras comunicaciones han sido indiscriminadamente asediadas.

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Join Oliver Stone & Noam Chomsky in Urging Correa to Grant Snowden Asylum

The U.S. government’s crackdown on whistleblowers is a direct threat to our efforts to reform U.S. foreign policy to make it more just. If we don't know for sure what the U.S. government is doing, we can’t have an effective democratic debate about what U.S. policy should be.

Faced with the threat of persecution by the U.S, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has applied to the government of Ecuador for political asylum. Join Oliver Stone, Noam Chomsky, and Tom Hayden in urging President Correa to grant Snowden’s asylum request.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/snowden

Recently, as part of a CodePink peace delegation to Yemen, I met with the U.S. Ambassador to Yemen, Gerald Feierstein. We delivered a petition signed by over 18,000 people urging Ambassador Feierstein to work quickly to transfer the Yemenis at Guantanamo who have been cleared for release and to work quickly to curtail U.S. drone strikes in Yemen as President Obama as promised.

In the course of this conversation, Ambassador Feierstein claimed that there are no “signature strikes” in Yemen – no strikes in which the U.S. doesn’t know who it is targeting. This claim is completely at odds with press reports. When I told a British reporter that Ambassador Feierstein had said this, she said: “He wouldn’t dare say that to me, because he knows I’d laugh in his face.”

This disconnect between what U.S. government officials say about the drone strikes and the record of independent reporting is only possible because of official government secrecy around the drone strikes. This secrecy is enabled by the unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers. This secrecy is a key obstacle to our efforts to reform U.S. foreign policy.