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Senate: Block Barron Vote Until DoJ Shares Drone Memos

Petition Background

David Barron, formerly a lawyer in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, wrote a secret legal memo approving the September 2011 drone strike that killed two U.S. citizens. Now Barron has been nominated to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on Senators to delay consideration of Barron’s nomination until all Senators have the opportunity to read all of the memos Barron has written on government killing with drone strikes.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Justice Department must make public portions of its memos justifying the extra-judicial killing of U.S. citizens with drones. But the Administration has not yet complied with the ruling.

Join the ACLU in calling on the Senate to delay consideration of Barron’s nomination until the Administration has shared the drone strike memos by signing our petition.

Gaza's Ark Attacked: Show Your Support

In the last few days, we asked you to participate in efforts to support Gaza's Ark, a project to politically challenge the blockade of Gaza by bringing a boat out of the port of Gaza carrying Palestinian exports. Thanks to the many of you who signed the Gaza's Ark petition or participated in the Twitter storm!

Today, we have grim news. Gaza's Ark was attacked last night. [1]

At 3:45 AM Gaza time, the night guard on board Gaza's Ark received a call to leave the boat because it was going to be attacked. The guard left, but when nothing happened after about 5 minutes, he returned. A few minutes later, a large explosion rocked the boat, causing extensive damage. [2]

The boat sank part way and is now sitting on the shallow sea floor. The guard was not injured but was taken to the hospital for tests.

Investigations are underway, both to determine what happened and to determine whether the boat can be repaired.

Here's how you can help now:

1. Help us get the word out about what has happened to the boat. If you're on Twitter, share tweets from @GazaArk and @justfp about what happened. If you're on Facebook, share the Al Jazeera article.
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/04/blast-damages-gaza-anti...

2. Sign and share the petition. If you haven't signed the petition to the UN against the blockade yet, please sign and share. If you have signed it, please share it again. The petition currently has 6,500 signatures. We'd like to get that to 10,000 in the next few days.
http://www.gazaark.org/2014/04/26/petition-to-the-un/

Thank you for all you do to challenge the siege of Gaza,

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

Please help us reach our April fundraising goal—make a $10 tax-deductible contribution today!

Call your Rep today to ban CIA from helping terrorists shoot down planes

Right now, Syrian insurgents that the U.S. is arming and their allies are pressing President Obama to approve the transfer of "manpads" to Syrian insurgents. These shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons that can be used to shoot down civilian aircraft. Their transfer would increase the risk of terrorism in the Middle East and beyond and violate international agreements to control these weapons that the U.S. helped put in place. These are key reasons that the Administration has not agreed to transfer manpads to Syria, and why the Obama Administration should resist pressure to change its position.

Rep. Peter Welch [D-VT] and Rep. John Conyers [D-MI] are leading efforts in Congress to push back against the dangerous demand to send manpads to Syria.

Rep. Welch is sending a letter to President Obama today urging him to resist pressure to send manpads to Syria. Rep. Conyers is introducing an amendment during the upcoming consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] to explicitly bar the transfer of shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles–“manpads”–to Syrian rebels.

Your Representative has been identified as crucial to the success of these efforts.Urge Rep. Rosa DeLauro to support Rep. Welch and Rep. Conyers in working to block the transfer of manpads to Syria.

Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask to be transferred to your Representative’s office. When you reach the office, say:

I urge you to support Congressional efforts led by Rep. Peter Welch and Rep. John Conyers to block the transfer of manpads to Syrian rebels. If transferred to Syria, these weapons are likely to fall into the hands of terrorists who will use them against civilian aircraft. I urge you to support Rep. Welch's letter to the President opposing the transfer of these weapons and I urge you to support Rep. Conyers' amendment on the NDAA to explicitly prohibit the transfer of these weapons.

U.S. Anti-Tank Rockets in Syria: Did Congress Approve?

 Reuters reports (emphasis mine):

Online videos show Syrian rebels using what appear to be U.S. anti-tank rockets, weapons experts say, the first significant American-built armaments in the country's civil war. ...

Schiff-Jones Drone Transparency Bill Call-In

A new documentary reveals that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have been carried out by regular U.S. Air Force personnel. Former U.S. drone pilot Brandon Bryant says:

"... the lie is that it's always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been."

Members of the House can do something very simple to address this. They can co-sponsor the Schiff-Jones bill, which would require the government to report on who is being killed by drone strikes.

Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121, ask to be connected to your Representative’s office, and say:

I’m calling to ask Rep. ____ to co-sponsor H.R.4372, the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act. This bipartisan bill would require the government to report on who is being killed by U.S. drone strikes, including how many civilians. The American people have the right to know what is being done in our name. You can co-sponsor the bill by contacting Rep. Adam Schiff’s office or Rep. Walter Jones’ office.

Maryland: Bill Defunding Universities With Ties To Israel Boycotters Dies In Committee

Maryland:
Bill Defunding Universities With Ties To Israel Boycotters Dies In Committee
Watered Down Condemnation Appears In Maryland State Budget Bill
  

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Statement from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on US anti-BDS legislation

[This statement is now posted on the website of the Maryland coalition, "Keep Free Speech in the Free State." A direct link is here. A press release is here.]

Statement from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu on 2 April 2014

US EFFORTS TO CURB FREEDOM OF SPEECH ON ISRAEL AND PALESTINE, OF GRAVE CONCERN

I am writing today to express grave concern about a wave of legislative measures in the United States aimed at punishing and intimidating those who speak their conscience and challenge the human rights violations endured by the Palestinian people. In legislatures in Maryland, New York, Illinois, Florida, and even the United States Congress, bills have been proposed that would either bar funding to academic associations or seek to malign those who have taken a stand against the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.

These legislative efforts are in response to a growing international initiative, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, of which I have long been a supporter. The BDS movement emanates from a call for justice put out by the Palestinian people themselves. It is a Palestinian-led, international non-violent movement that seeks to force the Israeli government to comply with international law in respect to its treatment of the Palestinian people.

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Call Your Rep TODAY To Stop US From Blocking Medicines For Iranians

A few weeks ago, we sent out an action alert about a letter being circulated by Rep. Jim Moran in the House calling on the White House to take necessary steps to ensure that medicine imports are not impeded by US sanctions. Despite trade in medicines being protect by both US and international law, and the granting of exemptions and licenses for medicines and other humanitarian goods, US sanctions are still contributing to a medicine shortage in Iran.

The letter closes at the end of the day Wednesday, so call your Rep today!

Call your Rep at 1-855-686-6927 and say

I urge you to sign Rep. Jim Moran's letter urging the White House to take necessary action to ensure U.S. sanctions do not block medicine, food, and licensed humanitarian goods from reaching the Iranian people.

Here are some additional talking points:

- Tens of thousands of Iranian civilians with treatable illnesses have suffered unnecessarily and unjustly because of medicine shortages created in part by US sanctions even though trade is medicines is supposed to be protected by both US and international law.
- Congress has exempted medicine, food, and humanitarian goods from sanctions, and the Administration has issued licenses for these goods. However, there are few non-sanctioned financial channels available and many banks have been unwilling to facilitate humanitarian transactions due to sanctions.

Report your call using the form below.

Illinois ACLU statement against SJR 59, Illinois anti-boycott resolution

The following statement was issued by the Illinois ACLU against SJR 59, State Sen. Silverstein's resolution condemning academic boycotts.

Update: the statement is now posted on the Illinois ACLU website here.

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To: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Re: Senate Joint Resolution 59
Date: 3/25/14

The ACLU of Illinois opposes Senate Joint Resolution 59, a resolution that calls upon all Illinois college and university presidents to publicly condemn academic boycotts.

A boycott is an important and powerful form of protected expressive association protected by the First Amendment. Speech and nonviolent picketing in support of a boycott encompasses the practice of people sharing common views banding together to achieve a common end, a practice deeply embedded in the American political process. By this collective effort, individuals can make their views known when, individually, their voices would be faint or lost. In emphasizing the importance of the freedom of association in guaranteeing the right of people to make their voices heard on public issues, the U.S. Supreme Court has noted that effective advocacy of both public and private points of view, particularly controversial ones, is undeniably enhanced by group association, NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co., 458 U.S. 886 (1982).

There is no basis in law or policy to exempt academic institutions from boycotts. Would Illinois support a resolution guarding Bob Jones University from a boycott when, in the 1970’s because of its interpretation of Biblical principles regarding interracial dating, Bob Jones University completely excluded black applicants? We expect not.

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CPC CO-CHAIRS CALL FOR CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT ON DRONES: HUMAN RIGHTS MUST BE A PRIORITY

The following is a press release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2014
Press Contacts:
Adam Sarvana (Grijalva) – (202) 225-2435
Mike Casca (Ellison) – (202) 225-4755

CPC CO-CHAIRS CALL FOR CONSTRUCTIVE ENGAGEMENT ON DRONES: HUMAN RIGHTS MUST BE A PRIORITY

WASHINGTON — Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) Co-Chairs Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) released the following statement after a vote by the United Nations Human Rights Council on the use of drones:

“Today’s vote at the United Nations reinforces the need for greater oversight of the U.S. drone program. Instead of working closely with the international community to help strengthen current international standards on the use of drones, the U.S. government decided to boycott a discussion of the draft resolution. We are troubled by the ease with which dialogue and diplomacy—values at the center of the president’s foreign policy—were cast aside in this debate.

“Our national security would be stronger with international standards regarding the use of drones. No country has a monopoly on armed drone technology. As of 2011, 76 nations had drone technology of some kind. It is clearly in our interest to help establish the norms and rules that will govern the use of drones by all nations in the future.

“Similarly, it’s important to ensure that the American people and our allies understand the legal justification and on-the-ground impact of our drone policy. The current lack of transparency harms our relationships with other countries and erodes our ability to collaborate on key global security issues.