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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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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? You can send them this link:
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Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just.
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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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Help your friends sign up to receive the Just Foreign Policy News
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Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just.
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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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On April 25, Help MoveOn Kill the Chained CPI and Cut the Pentagon Instead

UPDATE: MoveOn has moved the day of action to Thursday, April 25. All dates in this alert have been changed to reflect this development.

On April 25, MoveOn is calling for actions at Congressional offices across the country in opposition to President Obama's proposal to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits by lowering the cost-of-living adjustment with the "chained CPI."

This is a historic opportunity for the broad public to force a positive change in federal budget priorities. What President Obama, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, and the Washington Post editorial board agree on is that they prefer to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits and raise taxes rather than cut the bloated Pentagon budget. That's what the "grand bargain" is all about.

But the broad, bipartisan public holds the opposite view. Most Americans would rather cut the bloated Pentagon budget, and leave Social Security and veterans' benefits and taxes alone. [1]

Can you help us help MoveOn make history on April 25? We're asking you to do three things:

1. Sign our petition at SignOn:

Cut Social Security & Veterans' Benefits? Cut the Pentagon Instead!
http://signon.org/sign/cut-social-security-veterans?source=c.url&r_by=11...

2. Share our blog post:

On Friday, Kill the #ChainedCPI Cut to Social Security & Veterans' Benefits
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/on-friday-kill-the-chaine_b_...

3. Help organize an action at a local Congressional office on April 25 to deliver our petition:

Host an Emergency mobilization to protect Social Security
http://civic.moveon.org/event/events/create.html?id=&action_id=317

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

Robert Naiman, Chelsea Mozen, Sarah Burns and Megan Iorio
Just Foreign Policy

JFP 4/9: 3 ways to cut $163 billion without touching Social Security; drone hearing 4/16

Just Foreign Policy News, April 9, 2013
3 ways to cut $163 billion without touching Social Security; drone hearing 4/16

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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? You can send them this link:
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Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/donate

I) Actions and Featured Articles

Cut Social Security & Veterans' Benefits? Cut the Pentagon Instead
According to the CBO, Obama's proposal to cut Social Security and veterans' benefits using the chained CPI will save the government $163 billion over ten years. Three better ways to save $163 billion: end the war in Afghanistan; cut the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by 10% (267 planes); cut Pentagon contracting and bring the work in-house.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/cut-social-security-veter_b_3040226.html

April 16: Historic Durbin hearing on drone strikes

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JFP 4/1: Will Congress stop funding death squads in Honduras?

Just Foreign Policy News, April 1, 2013
Will Congress stop funding death squads in Honduras?

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Help your friends sign up to receive the Just Foreign Policy News
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http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/daily-news-signup

Support the Work of Just Foreign Policy
Your support helps us to educate Americans about U.S. foreign policy and create opportunities for Americans to advocate for a foreign policy that is more just.
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I) Actions and Featured Articles

**Action: Tell Kerry: No Aid to Honduran Death Squads
Tell Secretary of State John Kerry to end all U.S. aid to all units of the Honduran National Police, whose leader has been linked to death squads, as required by U.S. law.
http://signon.org/sign/kerry-no-aid-to-honduran?source=c.url&r_by=1135580

Video: Sheikh Jarrah, My Neighbourhood
Just Vision's story of a Palestinian boy growing up inside the struggle of Palestinians to save their homes in East Jerusalem just won a Peabody Award. You can watch it for free online.
http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2012/04/201243114530739738.html

Yemen Policy Initiative: increased reliance on drones undermines US interests
This letter is signed by the former US Ambassador to Yemen, among others.

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