At this writing, Friday 4pm ET, the Estelle is 120 nautical miles from Gaza. Israeli authorities have threatened to seize the boat in international waters and take it and its passengers to the Israeli port of Ashdod. Here are two pictures of the passengers on the boat, including Israeli combat veteran Yonatan Shapira. Shapira is a US national.
You can speak out against US drone strikes by signing our petition.
To: U.S. and Pakistani officials who have influence over the U.S. policy of conducting drone strikes in Pakistan
From: Citizens of the United States
We urge you to do everything in your power to end U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan; to bring the drone strike policy into compliance with international and U.S. law; to permanently end all "signature strikes" against unknown persons; to permanently end "secondary strikes," particularly those that target and endanger civilian rescuers, in grave violation of international law; to address questions about civilian casualties from drone strikes publicly and in detail; and to compensate civilian drone strike victims and their families.
US drone strikes in Pakistan have killed and harmed too many civilians. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has reported 474 to 884 civilian deaths caused by US drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, including 176 children.  Moreover, as a recent study from researchers at NYU and Stanford law schools notes, "US drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury," as civilians live in a state of constant fear, since drones could strike at any time.  Families are afraid to attend weddings or funerals, because US drone operators might strike them. 
The following letter was sent on Sept. 10 to Secretary of State Clinton, urging application of the Leahy Law to immediately suspend further U.S. military assistance and arms transfers to units of the security forces of Bahrain which have engaged in human rights violations against non-violent, pro-democracy protesters, as required by U.S. law. The letter was signed by: Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain, International Federation for Human Rights, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights First, Freedom House, Physicians for Human Rights, Project on Middle East Democracy, Just Foreign Policy, Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch, and the United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.
JUST FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES $14,500 REWARD FOR WIKILEAKS TO PUBLISH TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP NEGOTIATING TEXT
Monday, August 20, 2012
Contact: Robert Naiman,
JUST FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES $14,500 REWARD
FOR WIKILEAKS TO PUBLISH TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP NEGOTIATING TEXT
As of Monday noon, "crowdsourced" reward stands at $14,543
Washington - The U.S. foreign policy reform organization Just Foreign Policy has issued a "crowdsourced" reward for WikiLeaks to publish the negotiating text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. On Friday, August 17, Just Foreign Policy issued an appeal online for pledges to make donations to WikiLeaks if it publishes the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiating text. As of noon Eastern Time on Monday, August 20, the reward stands at $14,543, based on 344 pledges, of which the median pledge was $25.
The appeal - and the running tally of pledges collected so far - can be seen at
On September 6, negotiators will go to Leesburg, Virginia, for the latest round of secretive talks on the "Trans-Pacific Partnership" agreement. This proposed agreement threatens access to essential medicines in developing countries, threatens environmental regulations, and threatens internet freedom. Even Members of Congress and their staffs have been blocked from seeing the draft text, while corporate representatives have been allowed to see it. 
"Americans have a right to know what's in this agreement before it is signed," said Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. "After an agreement is signed we'll be told that it's too late to change it. It was precisely to publish leaked government documents of public interest that WikiLeaks was formed."
[This letter is being circulated among former U.S. officials concerned with U.S. foreign policy, NGO leaders concerned with U.S. foreign policy, and academics concerned with the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. Please send signatures, together with identifying information similar to current signers, to email@example.com by noon ET on Monday, August 6. Forwarding welcome where appropriate.]
[Everyone is encouraged to write their own Representative, urging that Bachmann be removed from the Intelligence Committee. Our alert is here:
House Must Sanction Bachmann for Anti-Muslim McCarthyism
To Protect U.S. Interests, Replace Anti-Muslim Conspiracy Theorists on the House Intelligence Committee
Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi:
We write out of concern for the impact on U.S. interests in the Muslim world of the actions of some Members of Congress in promoting anti-Muslim conspiracy theories suggesting that top U.S. officials who are Muslim-American are part of a Muslim Brotherhood plot to infiltrate the U.S. government.
As you are aware, Reps. Michele Bachmann, Trent Franks, Louie Gohmert, Thomas Rooney and Lynn Westmoreland recently wrote to various government agencies and asked them to investigate the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood on U.S. officials who are Muslim-American, targeting top State Department official Huma Abedin and several advisers to the Department of Homeland Security.
As you are also no doubt aware, the promotion of these conspiracy theories by Members of Congress has been cited by conspiracy theorists in Egypt as evidence for the claim that the U.S. government has deliberately helped engineer the electoral success of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This has come at a time when the U.S. government has worked hard to avoid any public perception that it is backing one faction over another in Egypt's nascent democracy.
[This letter in support of the Mulvaney-Frank amendment was organized by the Project On Government Oversight. The PDF is here:]
July 18, 2012
An Open Letter to Congress in Support of Reining in Runaway Spending by the Pentagon
Dear Members of the House of Representatives,
We, the undersigned organizations, strongly urge you to support the bipartisan amendment to freeze profligate Pentagon spending at Fiscal Year 2012 levels. Offered by Representatives Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) and Barney Frank (D-MA), this proposed amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2013 is a common-sense step towards reining in the runaway Pentagon budget.
Though our groups have advocated for deeper cuts, we welcome the Mulvaney-Frank amendment to keep base military spending at the FY 2012 level of $518 billion. It is a modest $1.1 billion reduction of the currently proposed spending in the House bill—which inexplicably provides for $3.1 billion more than requested by the military. Keeping spending at current levels will still be higher than the Pentagon’s requested amount, but will at least halt the unnecessary escalation currently proposed and is the same level that nearly 300 members recently supported in the “megabus.” The amendment excludes spending on military personnel, the Defense Health Program, and the overseas contingency operations from the freeze. It allows the commanding officers to make strategic spending decisions.
The Mulvaney-Frank amendment represents a compromise that both Republicans and Democrats can agree on.
In fact, the House has already agreed to greater reductions to the Pentagon budget. Just last year, Congress passed the Budget Control Act to enforce discretionary spending caps.
The following letter has been circulated mostly in the United States by Just Foreign Policy. It was hand-delivered to the Embassy of Ecuador in London by Just Foreign Policy's Policy Director Robert Naiman on Monday, June 25. Read the press release.
We also hand-delivered the online petition circulated by Just Foreign Policy, which has been signed by more than 7000 people. That petition - which you can still sign - is here: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/assange-asylum
June 25, 2012
Dear President Correa,
We are writing to urge you to grant political asylum to Julian Assange.
As you know, British courts recently struck down Mr. Assange’s appeal against extradition to Sweden, where he is not wanted on criminal charges, but merely for questioning. Mr. Assange has repeatedly made clear he is willing to answer questions relating to accusations against him, but in the United Kingdom. But the Swedish government insists that he be brought to Sweden for questioning. This by itself, as Swedish legal expert and former Chief District Prosecutor for Stockholm Sven-Erik Alhem testified, is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate.”
We believe Mr. Assange has good reason to fear extradition to Sweden, as there is a strong likelihood that once in Sweden, he would be imprisoned, and then likely extradited to the United States.
[This Congressional letter is being circulated by Rep. Polis. The letter closes June 20. You can ask your Rep. to sign by calling their office through the Congressional switchboard, 202-225-3121, or email using this link.]
List of signers as of June 19 (36 in all): Reps. Polis (D-CO), Berman (D-CA), Schakowsky (D-IL), Frank (D-MA), Cicilline (D-RI), Baldwin (D-WI), Conyers (D-MI), Norton (D-DC), Woolsey (D-CA), Grijalva (D-AZ), Velazquez (D-NY), Hinchey (D-NY), Schiff (D-CA), Lee (D-CA), Blumenauer (D-OR), Honda (D-CA), Towns (D-NY), Nadler (D-NY), Jackson (D-IL), Quigley (D-IL), Gutierrez (D-IL), Farr (D-CA), Maloney (D-NY), Waxman (D-CA), Stark (D-CA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Yarmuth (D-KY), Speier (D-CA), Moore (D-WI), Miller (D-CA), McDermott (D-WA), Carnahan (D-MO), Moran (D-VA), Filner (D-CA), DeGette (D-CO)
Help Address Violent Crimes Committed Against the LGBT Community in Honduras
From: The Honorable Jared Polis
Please join us in sending the letter below to the State Department calling on them to urge the government of Honduras to take immediate steps to investigate and resolve cases of violent crime against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community in that country.
Since 2009, more than 70 LGBT individuals have been murdered, and many of these cases remain unresolved. The State Department’s 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices found that the Honduran law enforcement has been complicit in human rights abuses, and that police officers had targeted vulnerable persons, including LGBT people. Given the level of U.S. support and assistance for the Honduran government, it is vital that we ensure they protect the human rights of all their citizens, especially vulnerable populations like the LGBT community.
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
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  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.
Twenty-six Members of Congress sent the following letter to President Obama asking that Congress be provided with information on the CIA and JSOCs use of "signature" drone strikes. Signers were: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers, Rush Holt, Jesse Jackson, Jr., Maurice Hinchey, Charlie Rangel, Pete Stark, Mike Honda, Raul Grijalva, Bob Filner, Barbara Lee, Jim McGovern, Lynn Woolsey, Hank Johnson, Luis Gutierrez, Ron Paul, John Lewis, George Miller, Jim McDermott, Yvette Clarke, Peter DeFazio, Peter Welch, Donna Edwards, Jerrold Nadler, Keith Ellison, Walter Jones.
The text of the Dear Colleague sent by Rep. Kucinich on May 10 follows below, then the text of the final letter as it was sent to President Obama on June 12.
The PDF of the letter as it was sent to President Obama on June 12 is here.
ENSURE TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY IN THE U.S. COMBAT DRONE PROGRAM
From: The Honorable Dennis J. Kucinich
A recent article published in The Washington Post revealed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have been given new authority that allows them “to fire on targets based solely on their intelligence ‘signatures’ – patterns of behavior that are detected through signals intercepts, human sources and aerial surveillance, and that indicated a presence of an important operative or plot against U.S. interests.” Allowing the CIA and JSOC to conduct drone strikes without having to know the identity of the person they’re targeting is in stark contrast to what the Administration has previously claimed regarding its drone campaign: that they are targeted strikes against suspected terrorists on lists maintained by the CIA and JSOC.