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WikiLeaks and the Drone Strike Transparency Bill

by Robert Naiman

The Senate Intelligence Committee recently took an important step by passing an intelligence authorization which would require for the first time - if it became law - that the Administration publicly report on civilian casualties from U.S. drone strikes.

Sarah Knuckey, Director of the Project on Extrajudicial Executions at New York University School of Law and a Special Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, calls this provision "an important step toward improving transparency," and notes that "Various U.N. officials, foreign governments, a broad range of civil society, and many others, including former U.S. Department of State Legal Advisor Harold Koh ... have called for the publication of such basic information."

This provision could be offered as an amendment in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act. It could be offered in the House as an amendment on the intelligence authorization, or as a freestanding bill. But it's not likely to become law unless there's some public agitation for it (you can participate in the public agitation here.)

Press Release: JFP Hails WikiLeaks TPP Leak, Urges Donors to Fulfill Reward Pledges

For Immediate Release
November 13, 2013

Media Contacts:
Robert Naiman, 217-979-2957, naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
Megan Iorio, 908-400-9480, iorio@justforeignpolicy.org

JFP Hails WikiLeaks TPP Leak, Urges Donors to Fulfill Reward Pledges

WikiLeaks Sparking Debate Not Possible While Agreement Secret;
Events Show Anti-Democratic Government Policy Secrecy Not Limited to “National Security”

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov 13—Today, WikiLeaks published the text of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement intellectual property chapter. This is generating headlines around the world as the controversial provisions of this proposed agreement are revealed to public opinion, helping groups that have been campaigning against the TPP make their case to the media and the public. ...

Full release at http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/pressreleases/tpp-leak

Drone Strike Transparency Provision of the Senate Intelligence Authorization

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.

(a) REQUIREMENT FOR ANNUAL REPORT.—For each year, the President shall prepare and make public an annual report that sets forth the following:

(1) The total number of combatants killed or injured during the preceding year by the use of targeted lethal force outside the United States by remotely piloted aircraft.

Keep America at Peace: Keep the Pentagon Sequester

Folks who think that (at the very least) we should be allowed to experience a few years of peace before launching the next military adventure are on the cusp of a major victory in Washington. All we have to do to win this historic victory is maintain the "sequester" cuts to the Pentagon budget that are already planned in existing law. And if we win the next round -- if we avoid any kind of "grand bargain" one more time -- we will likely win forever, because the Pentagon cuts will be an accomplished fact, and when everyone sees that the Earth is still spinning on its axis, we'll all realize that cutting the Pentagon budget is no big deal. The Pentagon will be smaller, the sun will come up in the morning, and life will go on.

Keep U.S. Troops in Afghanistan? Let Congress Vote!

In mid-November, the Christian Science Monitor reports, a loya jirga in Afghanistan - a national meeting of tribal leaders and other notable Afghans - will vote on whether to meet the Obama administration's terms for keeping U.S. troops in the country beyond the end of 2014.

If you care about democracy in Afghanistan, you should be happy for the Afghans. Whether or not - and if so, under what conditions - they want to have thousands of U.S. troops in their country after 2014 is obviously a very big deal for them. Why shouldn't they have full deliberation and debate?

But if you also care about democracy in the United States, you should be a bit troubled. Because Congress has never approved keeping thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the end of 2014.

The closest Congress has come to considering this question is in language passed by the House in June, 2013. Offered by Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, this language - which passed the House 305-121, with a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voting yes- said [my emphasis]:

Prepare yourself for a fright!

Forget the scary costumes and gory Hollywood movies. If you're looking for a true fright this Halloween, just take a look at the video of a panel discussion that took place at New York's Yeshiva University last week in which Sheldon Adelson, a major donor for numerous organizations and political candidates who promote strife, called for the US to nuke Iran—and the audience applauded!

For years, Adelson and his ideological kin have been using examples of Iranian rhetoric—often exaggerated and sometimes even fabricated—as an excuse for opposing any US-Iran rapprochement. Yet, in a disturbing attempt to evade responsibility, Adelson's spokesman insisted that his boss's comments shouldn't be viewed in the same light as those coming from Iran because he was obviously “using hyperbole to make a point that … actions speak louder than words.”

Yes, Mr. Adelson, actions do speak louder than words. Just as the US and Iran embark on the most promising talks in years, Adelson's cheering section on the Hill is brewing up some major sabotage, with the Senate threatening to pass further sanctions, and the House considering an authorization for the use of military force.

Isn't it scary that US and Iranian negotiators could be on their way to an agreement and Congress could just flip a switch and potentially blow the whole deal? We think so. That's why we've been working to give Obama the political space to pursue diplomacy.

NYT Public Editor responds to our petition on budget reporting

Earlier this week, we initiated a petition at MoveOn to Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of the New York Times, urging that the Times put budget numbers in context.

.@nytimes, @Sulliview: Put Budget Numbers in Context
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/nytimes-sulliview-put?source=c.url&r_by...

Margaret Sullivan has responded. You can read her response here:

The Times Is Working on Ways to Make Numbers-Based Stories Clearer for Readers
http://publiceditor.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/18/the-times-is-working-on...

JFP 10/16: NYT Budget Numbers in Context? Bogus Bibi Claim on Iran ICBM

Just Foreign Policy News, October 16, 2013
NYT Should Put Budget Numbers in Context; Bogus Bibi Claim on Iran ICBM Based on US Threat Inflation

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I) Actions and Featured Articles
**Action: New York Times: Put Budget Numbers in Context

A key reason Members of Congress have been able to get away with holding our government hostage is that they've been able to trick many Americans into thinking that federal government spending on domestic priorities is out of control, while these same Members of Congress have diverted public attention from the bloated Pentagon budget. Mainstream media have enabled these Members of Congress by failing to put budget numbers in context. If the New York Times tells you that we’re spending $15 billion on foreign aid or $400 million on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which funds PBS and NPR) without putting those numbers in context, you might think that's a lot of money. But in the context of the Pentagon's half a trillion dollar annual budget, these numbers are chump change.

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JFP 10/11: End shutdown = protect Pentagon cuts; Syria analysts had Pentagon conflicts of interest

Just Foreign Policy News, October 11, 2013
End shutdown = protect Pentagon cuts; Syria analysts had Pentagon conflicts of interest

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Help me bring attention to important news by retweeting my tweets.
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Support the work of Just Foreign Policy
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I) Actions and Featured Articles
**Action: Tuesday: End the Shutdown, Protect the Pentagon Cuts
Now some Republicans are saying that they want cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits as the price of re-opening the government and lifting the debt ceiling. That means they want to take your Social Security check and Medicare benefits so they can turn off planned cuts to the Pentagon budget. By stopping Social Security cuts, we can make sure the Pentagon cuts stay in place.
On Tuesday, MoveOn is organizing events at Congressional offices, pressing for a clean end to the shutdown. Find an event or host one here.
http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/create.html?action_id=331

**Action: With U.S. Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?

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JFP 10/9: Won't More Pentagon $ Kill Jobs? UN sued on Haiti cholera; Palestinians return to Burka

Just Foreign Policy News, October 9, 2013
Won't More Pentagon $ Kill Jobs? UN sued on Haiti cholera; Palestinians return to Burka

Go Straight to "Actions and Featured Articles"

Help your friends sign up to receive the Just Foreign Policy News
Do you know someone who might want to receive the Just Foreign Policy News by email? You can send them this link that they can use to subscribe:
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Help me bring attention to important news by retweeting my tweets.
https://twitter.com/naiman

Support the work of Just Foreign Policy
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I) Actions and Featured Articles
**Action: With U.S. Borrowing Capped, Won't More Pentagon Spending Destroy Jobs?
Sign our petition at MoveOn, urging prominent Keynesian economists Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, and Joe Stiglitz to publicly acknowledge that turning off planned cuts to the Pentagon budget by cutting Social Security and raising taxes on the middle class would destroy American jobs, because as a 2011 University of Massachusetts study showed, every other form of federal spending in the domestic economy, including tax cuts to promote personal consumption, creates more jobs than unnecessary Pentagon spending. So if you move money from the domestic economy to the Pentagon budget, you destroy jobs. Every American needs to know this before a "Grand Bargain" is imposed that cuts Social Security and raises taxes on the middle class to protect the bloated Pentagon.

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