May 20, 2014
Senator Paul: We Stand With You for the Rule of Law
Dear Senator Paul,
The undersigned groups stand with you in objecting to cloture on the nomination of David J. Barron to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. We share your concerns regarding Barron’s authorship of secret memos purporting to give legal justification for drone strikes against U.S. citizens and others outside of a legal armed conflict or imminent threat to the United States. We agree that before the Senate votes on Barron’s nomination, the Administration should share all of these memos with the Senate and the public, implementing the letter and spirit of the decision of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in its April 21 ruling.
As the American Civil Liberties Union noted in its statement on May 16 on the filing of the cloture petition:
“No senator can meaningfully carry out his or her constitutional obligation of providing ‘advice and consent’ on the nomination without reading all of Mr. Barron’s opinions on the drone program. The White House has continued to play hide the ball by not providing all of the opinions written or signed by Mr. Barron on targeted killing, regardless of citizenship. The memos raise fundamental due process and rule of law issues, and no senator should agree to vote on the nomination without first getting each and every one of his memos on targeted killing.”
As you wrote in your New York Times op-ed on May 11,
Bill Defunding Universities With Ties To Israel Boycotters Dies In Committee
Watered Down Condemnation Appears In Maryland State Budget Bill
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.
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.
To: Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Re: Senate Joint Resolution 59
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.
The following is a press release from the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2014
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.
Below is the text of the drone strike transparency provision of the Senate intelligence authorization. [You can urge Congress and the President to support this provision here. The full bill is here.]
SEC. 312. UNCLASSIFIED ANNUAL REPORT ON THE USE OF TARGETED LETHAL FORCE OUTSIDE THEUNITED STATES.
Press clips from vigil against the U.S. bombing of Syria in Illinois' 13th Congressional District (Rep. Rodney Davis)
WCIA-TV (with video): Former lawmaker joins anti-war vigil
WICD-TV (video): Some In CU Say: Don't Strike Syria
WAND-TV (video): Residents urge lawmakers to vote against attacks on Syria
News-Gazette: Candlelight vigil held over proposed strikes against Syria
News-Gazette photo gallery: Vigil Against Bombing Syria: 9/9/13
WILL-AM: At Rally, Fmr. Rep. Johnson Speaks Out Against Possible Military Strike
Daily Illini: Community members plead for peace
The office of Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-02) is circulating the following letter on Congressional war powers. It closes at noon Wednesday, August 28. Urge your Representative to sign the Rigell letter by calling the Congressional switchboard, 202-225-3121. There is a Roll Call article about this letter here: Get Authorization for Syria, House Lawmakers Say
Dear Mr. President,
We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering the use of U.S. military force in Syria. Your responsibility to do so is prescribed in the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
Following on the wildly successful pro-diplomacy letter led by Reps. Charlie Dent and David Price, California Senator Dianne Feinstein is circulating a letter, below, urging President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran in the wake of Iran's recent presidential election. Write to your Senators today!
Dear President Obama:
We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the upcoming inauguration of Iran’s new president, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, by reinvigorating diplomatic efforts to secure a verifiable agreement that ensures that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.
Since 2010 Congress has worked with your Administration to increase U.S. and international sanctions against Iran. The impact on Iran’s economy has been significant: the value of the Iranian rial has plummeted against the U.S. dollar since 2011, unofficial estimates of inflation range as high as 70 percent, exports of oil have been halved, Iranian oil production has declined 35 percent to 2.6 million barrels per day, the Iranian economy declined by as much as 8 percent between March 2012 and March 2013 and is set to decline further in the next year, and unemployment estimates range as high as 20 percent.
Today, nearly a third of the House of Representatives endorsed the Dent-Price letter calling upon President Obama to reinvigorate US efforts to engage Iran.
Below is the final version of the letter, including a list of signers by state. You can view the original letter here. In addition, Reps. Huffman, Lowenthal and Brownley sent a similar letter to the President, which you can view here.
Send your Rep a letter of thanks/disappointment here.
July 19, 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.