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JFP 5/23: US says to curtail drone strikes; Israel says ready for long war in Syria

Just Foreign Policy News, May 23, 2013
US says to curtail drone strikes; Israel says ready for long war in Syria

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

* Action:
Urge NYT Public Editor to Probe Times Coverage of Syria Chemical Arms Claim
Join Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting in urging the New York Times' Public Editor to investigate whether the paper showed appropriate skepticism in reporting on government officials' claims the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, a purported justification for war.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-nyt

*Action: VoteVets.org: Stop the Senate from arming Syrian rebels

"Earlier this week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted 15-3 in favor of arming and training the Syrian rebels. This is a misguided and dangerous idea. Three Senators voted against the bill in committee, but we need you to send a strong message to the other 97 that you oppose intervention in Syria's civil war."
http://action.votevets.org/page/s/syria

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Cessez le Feu! Don't Let France Kill the Syria Peace Talks

Usually when we write to you, it's the U.S. government that is blocking chances for diplomacy to prevent, contain, reduce and end violent conflict.

But this time it's different. This time, it's the French who appear to be standing in the way of peace!

The U.S. and Russia have agreed to host a peace conference to try to end the Syrian civil war. But France says it will oppose the peace conference if Iran is invited. C'est scandaleux!

For peace talks to have a chance to end the war, all the parties involved in the conflict have to be there. Excluding Iran would likely condemn the peace talks to failure, more Syrian civilians would die for no reason, and calls for direct US military intervention would increase.

Join us in telling Washington to explain to France that trying to exclude Iran from the Syria peace talks would be a major faux pas.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/diplomacy-faux-pas

Last Friday, Reuters reported: [1]

“As far as we are concerned, not Iran," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot told reporters in Paris, discussing who should attend. "What's at stake is regional stability and we can't see how a country that represents a threat to this stability could attend this conference.”
The U.S., on the other hand, kept the possibility of Iran's participation open:

The United States said on Thursday that it was not ruling anyone in or out of the conference.
As Al-Monitor argued in a recent editorial, [2]

For the Geneva II conference on Syria to have the best chance of enacting a cease-fire and beginning a transition, Iran needs to be there.
[...]
It should be a no-brainer to have all parties to a conflict represented at a peace conference. There is no "transition" in Syria absent a cease-fire, and no cease-fire without Iran, which provides the military and intelligence lifeline to the Assad regime.

Iran is unlikely to agree to a deal where its interests and influence are not recognized in Syria.

JFP 5/21: NYT goes Judy Miller on Syria; Rand: Iran nukes no big whoop

Just Foreign Policy News, May 21, 2013
NYT goes Judy Miller in Syria; Rand: Iran Nukes No Big Whoop

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

* Action:
Urge NYT Public Editor to Probe Times Coverage of Syria Chemical Arms Claim
Join Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting in urging the New York Times' Public Editor to investigate whether the paper showed appropriate skepticism in reporting on government officials' claims the Syrian government had used chemical weapons, a purported justification for war.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-nyt

Palestine in Israeli School Books: A Review
At "Education Review," Just Foreign Policy reviews "Palestine in Israeli School Books: Ideology and Propaganda in Education," by Israeli scholar and human rights activist Nurit Peled-Elhanan.
http://www.edrev.info/reviews/rev1236.pdf

Video: Robert Greenwald: the War on Whistleblowers
Puts the AP scandal in context. Watch trailer, get DVD or download on iTunes.

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Urge NYT Public Editor to Probe Times Coverage of Syria Chemical Arms Claim

We learned in the run-up to the Iraq war that the New York Times has tremendous power to establish "truth" in the United States—and when the Times wields that power irresponsibly, the results can be catastrophic.

Last week, the media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting documented a lack of skepticism in New York Times reporting of allegations of Syrian government use of chemical weapons. [1] Times reporting suggested that the U.S. government had strong evidence that Syria had used chemical weapons. But, as FAIR documented, the U.S. government was not nearly as certain as claimed by the Times' initial reports. At the same time that the Times was uncritically reporting these claims, other media were appropriately skeptical.

Urge Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times Public Editor, to examine whether the Times showed appropriate skepticism in its reporting of Western government claims about the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-nyt

On April 18, the Times reported [2] that, according to unnamed diplomats, the UK and France had sent letters to the UN about "credible evidence" Syria had used chemical weapons. On April 23, the Times reported [3] that Israel had "evidence that the Syrian government repeatedly used chemical weapons last month." In its print edition April 25, the Times reported [4] that the White House "shares the suspicions of several of its allies that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons." That same day, with headline "White House Says Syria Has Used Chemical Arms," the Times then reported [5]:

The White House, in a letter to congressional leaders, said the nation's intelligence agencies assessed ''with varying degrees of confidence'' that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had used the chemical agent sarin on a small scale.

Push Back Against the Media Drumbeat for War with Syria

It's breathtaking, isn't it?

After twelve years of war in which justifications for war proved to be lies and claims of easy victory proved false, while the Afghanistan war drags on and Washington cuts Head Start, Meals on Wheels, and cancer clinics, and threatens to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits, elite media are once again manufacturing a drumbeat for war, this time with Syria, even though recent polls have shown that the public is overwhelmingly opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria's civil war. [1] [2]

Members of Congress who are dubious about another U.S. war in the Middle East will have a good opportunity soon to push back against this media drumbeat when Congress considers the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Amendments can be offered that can counter the pro-war media chorus.

Help us take advantage of this opportunity to push against the media drumbeat for war by urging your representatives to support amendments to the NDAA that will slow down calls for military escalation.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/syria-ndaa

There are a lot of things that Congress could do to slow down the rush to war, including passing amendments to the NDAA to:

  1. Bar the introduction of U.S. ground troops to Syria. Such an amendment might pass the House overwhelmingly, as it did in the case of Libya, sending a signal that there is a limit to U.S. military escalation. [3]
  2. Re-affirm that U.S. drone strikes in Syria would constitute "hostilities" as defined by the War Powers Resolution, meaning that any use in Syria would have to be explicitly authorized by Congress. Most of the media discussion ignores the role of Congress, but when the Administration conducted drone strikes in Libya without Congressional authorization, in violation of the War Powers Resolution, the House of Representatives objected. [4]

No to U.S. Military Intervention in Syria

Republican Senators like Lindsey Graham and John McCain are demanding that the Obama Administration get the U.S. involved militarily in Syria's sectarian civil war. [1] But after the experience of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, President Obama and U.S. military leaders are right to be wary of these calls. And if we don't have enough money for Social Security, veterans' benefits, Head Start, and cancer clinics, we certainly don't have enough money for another war.

Urge Congress and the President to resist calls for another rush to war in the Middle East, and to support a political solution instead.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/no-intervention-syria

There's something particularly troubling about all this Sunday talk show blather about U.S. military action in Syria: it seems to assume that the President can order military action in Syria without anyone else's approval. But Syria hasn't attacked us, and as far as we know, has no plans to attack us.

Given the absence of a Syrian attack on or imminent threat to the United States:

  1. If the President ordered military action against Syria without Congressional authorization, that would violate the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution.
  2. If the President ordered military action in Syria without the approval of the United Nations Security Council, that would violate the United Nations Charter—just like the Iraq war did.
  3. If Congressional authorization and UN Security Council approval can be treated as trivial inconveniences for war in Syria, they can be treated as trivial inconveniences for war with Iran, or for drone strikes anywhere.

Urge Congress and the President to resist calls for a rush to war in Syria, and to ensure that U.S. actions comply fully with U.S. and international law.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/no-intervention-syria

Thank you for all you do to help bring about a more just foreign policy,

JFP 4/24: Yemeni slams drone strikes at Senate hearing; Senators demand info

Just Foreign Policy News, April 24, 2013
Yemeni activist slams drone strikes at Senate hearing; Senators demand info

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Video: Senate hearing on drone strikes
The video of Yemeni youth activist Farea al-Muslimi's testimony is on our home page.
http://justforeignpolicy.org/
The entire hearing can be watched here:
http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/312317-1
al-Muslimi's prepared testimony is here:
http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/pdf/04-23-13Al-MuslimiTestimony.pdf
other testimony is linked off the committee website:
http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=b01a319ecae60e7cbb832de271030205
Conor Friedersdorf: This Yemeni Man Loves America, Hates al-Qaeda, and Says Drone Strikes Make Them Stronger

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JFP 4/22: Drone strike hearing Tue 4pm ET; Cut the Pentagon actions Thu noon

Just Foreign Policy News, April 22, 2013
Drone strike hearing Tue 4pm ET; Cut the Pentagon actions Thu noon

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

Drone strike policy hearing, Tuesday, April 23
April 23, 4pm ET. (Note time change, was originally 10AM ET.)
Here is the official hearing notice and witness list, with link to the webcast:
http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=b01a319ecae60e7cbb832de271030205
Yemeni youth activist Farea al-Muslimi, who recently wrote an op-ed in Al-Monitor about a drone strike in his home village (#10 below), will be one of the witnesses.
If you're in the DC area and able to attend - a full house would help demonstrate public interest - the hearing is in Hart 216.
If you live in Illinois, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Texas, South Carolina, Texas, or Utah, you have a Senator on the subcommittee.
Here is the alert we sent to folks with Senators on the subcommittee:
Congressional Drone Hearing: Four Questions and a Subpoena

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April 23 Hearing on Drone Strikes: Four Questions and a Subpoena

On April 23, the Constitution subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the ethics, legality, constitutionality, and political costs of the drone strike policy. This will be the first time in the history of the drone strike policy that there has been a public Congressional hearing like this focused on the policy.

If you live in Illinois, Minnesota, Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Texas, South Carolina, or Utah, you have a Senator who serves on the subcommittee. [1] That means you're in a position to influence what takes place during next week's hearing.

Urge your Senator to publicly call for a Congressional subpoena of the Office of Legal Counsel memos during the hearing and ask pointed questions about key issues that the Administration has tried to obscure.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/a16-drone-hearing

Senate committees are supposed to oversee Administration agencies, including the CIA and the Justice Department. But they can't do effective oversight if the Administration won't disclose key documents such as the Office of Legal Council memos that detail elements of the drone strike policy that the Administration has refused to share with Congress. Senator Leahy, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has threatened that his committee will issue a subpoena of the drone strike memos if the Administration doesn't hand them over. But the Administration hasn't complied.

In addition, key questions about the drone strike policy have been obscured by the Administration's secrecy, including:

  1. How many civilians have been killed, and why is government information about this classified?
  2. Is the CIA low-balling civilian deaths by automatically classifying "military age males" as "militants" when they are killed by US drone strikes, as the New York Times reported in May?

JFP 4/15: Fri. actions to save Social Security & cut Pentagon; drone lies exposed

Just Foreign Policy News, April 15, 2013
Fri. actions to save Social Security & cut Pentagon; drone lies exposed

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I) Actions and Featured Articles

On Friday, Help MoveOn Kill Chained CPI and Cut the Pentagon Instead
On Friday, MoveOn is calling for actions at Congressional offices to stop the President's proposal to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits by using the "chained CPI" to cut the cost-of-living adjustment. This is a historic opportunity to push back on the 1%'s idea that Social Security and veterans' benefits should be cut to protect the Pentagon budget from cuts. Sign our petition, share our blog, help organize a petition delivery action at a Congressional office near you; write to Congress if you haven't already.

Our petition: Cut Social Security & Veterans' Benefits? Cut the Pentagon Instead!

http://signon.org/sign/cut-social-security-veterans?source=c.url&r_by=1135580

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