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Submitted by Robert Naiman on 13 February 2013 - 11:57pm
Different Senate committees are supposed to do oversight of different federal agencies. The Senate Judiciary Committee is supposed to oversee the Department of Justice. The Senate Armed Services committee is supposed to do oversight of the Pentagon. And the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to do oversight of the Central Intelligence Agency. Since the CIA is conducting drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, and since this is, to say the least, a controversial policy, the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be doing oversight of that.
But contemplating the Senate Intelligence Committee's past oversight of the drone strike policy evokes the quote attributed to Gandhi when asked what he thought about Western civilization: "I think it would be a good idea."
Now that criticisms of the drone strike policy are getting some play in the press, people are floating ideas for various reforms. That's great! Let a hundred flowers bloom. But please call on me. I have an idea for a reform.
Why don't we ask the Senate Intelligence Committee to do its job of overseeing the CIA?
Now, you might think, that's a pretty arrogant claim, saying that the Senate Intelligence Committee has been asleep at the switch. Here, therefore, are three pieces of evidence for the claim.
Exhibit A: No public hearings.
Reporting on the Senate Intelligence Committee's confirmation hearing of John Brennan to head the CIA, Ken Dilanian of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the Senate Intelligence Committee
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 13 February 2013 - 5:21pm
California Senator Dianne Feinstein said something recently that's making our heads spin.
Following John Brennan's confirmation hearing last Thursday in which the Senate Intelligence Committee questioned him on US drone policy, Politico reported Sen. Feinstein as saying that
she was unaware of reports that in some instances U.S. officials assumed any male of fighting age killed in a strike was a combatant - a method that could undercount the number of civilian deaths. 
Apparently, Sen. Feinstein doesn't have a subscription to the New York Times. Last May, the Times ran a major expose on US drone policy that featured the revelation that the CIA was counting all “military-aged males in a strike zone” as “combatants” in their drone strike kill counts. 
What makes this situation even more outrageous is that Sen. Feinstein is the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the CIA and US drone policy. How is it possible that she was unaware of a widely-noted New York Times article on a policy she is responsible for overseeing?
We think "oversight" of drone strike policy includes the responsibility to know what's being reported about it in the press and to ask government officials about these concerns. That means someone needs to get a subscription to the New York Times ASAP. Don't you agree?
Join us in telling Sen. Feinstein and her staff to get subscriptions to the New York Times and to read the articles related to drone strikes.
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
Help support Just Foreign Policy! With our small staff and minimal overhead, you know your contribution will go a long way.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 11 February 2013 - 8:27pm
Just Foreign Policy News, February 11, 2013
Brennan/drone hearing; LAT interview with 5 Broken Cameras director
Go Straight to the News Summary
I) Actions and Featured Articles
Pressure Works: Urge the Senate to Press Brennan on Drone Strike Policy
A bipartisan group of eleven Senators demanded a memo from the Administration that the New York Times and the ACLU have been seeking in court for more than two years. A few days later, the Administration released the memo. This proves Senators can pry information loose if they want to. Urge your Senators to demand information on civilian casualties.
Just Foreign Policy Drone Strike Policy Reform Tour
So far: Los Angeles, Chicago, Durham, Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Flagstaff. Upcoming: Milwaukee, Madison, Carbondale, West Lafayette. To add your city to the tour, send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Council for a Livable World: White House Petition: Bring all troops home from Afghanistan by December 31, 2013
"Dear Mr. President: You face critical decisions on Afghanistan:
1. How rapidly the remaining American troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan
2. How many U.S. troops remain in that country after 2014
We believe the answer is clear: The troops should be removed as quickly as safely possible and no troops should remain after December 31, 2013….We urge you to bring all American troops home from Afghanistan as expeditiously as possible."
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 9 February 2013 - 1:58pm
Early this morning, a group of Palestinian and international nonviolent activists made two attempts to establish a new village in the South Hebron Hills to protest the Netanyahu government's plans to confiscate Palestinian land in the area. "We are establishing Canaan on our land after our homes and water wells were demolished, and our people displaced," Yatta popular committee spokesman Ibrahim Rabee told Ma'an News Agency.
According to AFP, the activists gathered at the first site, near a road that serves the settlement of Carmel, were evicted before they could erect any structures. The activists then moved to a second site, near the Palestinian village of al-Tuwani, where they were able to erect at least one tent before Israeli forces arrived. "We began building the tents and were surprised when a large force of the Israeli army began attacking us and destroying tents and hitting us,” Younis Arar, coordinator of the popular committee in the southern West Bank, told Ma'an news. AFP reported the use of water cannon to disperse the activists. According to Haaretz, the water sprayed at the protesters was “foul water”, also known as “skunk water”, which has a putrid smell that can linger on clothing for years.
No one is reported to have been arrested at the first site, but Al Jazeera says six people were arrested at the second site, including two journalists, one of whom is with the AP. A Hebron human rights activist told Al Jazeera, "The Israeli army does not distinguish the journalists from activists, or from the people living there - they just attacked everyone. They were very aggressive today."
Canaan was the fifth attempt to establish a protest village in the West Bank in as many weeks, and the Israeli army's response has become more aggressive with each attempt. The world needs to know about these nonviolent acts of resistance, and now is the time to spread the word. Here's what you can do:
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 5 February 2013 - 7:05pm
At long last, the Administration has released a "white paper" explaining its legal rationale for conducting drone strikes on Americans. Why did this happen? Because of pressure.
What might more pressure accomplish?
John Brennan is appearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday for his confirmation hearing as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.
Urge your Senators to press John Brennan on US drone strike policy.
The New York Times reports that the Justice Department "white paper" closely tracks a classified memorandum in which the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel signed off on the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who died in U.S. drone strike in September 2011.  Members of Congress, the press, and human rights groups have been pressing the Administration for disclosure of this memo (which still has not been disclosed).
In January, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden sent a letter demanding to see the memo.  On February 4, a bipartisan group of Senators made the same demand. 
This shows that the Administration's policy can move under the pressure of Senators' questions. More questions will generate more movement.
There are many other questions Senators should ask Brennan:
- How many civilians do you believe have been killed by drone strikes?
- Is it true that the CIA counts all "military-aged males" as "militants" when they are killed by a drone strike?
- Do you agree with those who say that drone strikes should not be conducted by the CIA?
- Is it true that the CIA has conducted "secondary strikes" where they hit the same target twice, after rescuers have come to the scene of a strike?
- Is it true that the CIA has targeted funerals and weddings with drone strikes?
- Is it true that the CIA has targeted unknown persons with "signature strikes," simply on the basis that they were carrying weapons?
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 5 February 2013 - 5:19pm
Just Foreign Policy News, February 5, 2013
Drone Strike White Paper; Sens. Push for Memo; Groups Push on Iran Medicines
Go Straight to the News Summary
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 2 February 2013 - 12:56pm
Earlier today, Palestinian nonviolent activists established a new tent village called al-Manatir in the West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus, to protest Israeli plans to confiscate village land for settlement development. Soon after, Israeli soldiers and settlers from two nearby settlements, Yitzhar and Bracha, entered the village. As the Associated Press reports, Burin has frequently been the target of settler violence from the nearby settlements. After the soldiers and settlers arrived at the scene, clashes subsequently broke out. The AFP reports that the Israeli soldiers “used tear gas and violence” to remove the protesters and settlers from the encampment. Haaretz reports that live ammunition was fired into the air, though the IDF denies this. In the end, five Palestinians and one settler were arrested.
The IDF has closed off the area and is preventing anyone from re-entering al-Manatir, but news is still coming in via Twitter. Now is the time to spread the word. Here's what you can do:
1. If you're on Twitter, retweet news coming in from #AlManatir
2. Share these articles:
- “Clashes in West Bank village after Palestinians erect protest camp,” Jack Khoury, Gili Cohen and the Associated Press, February 2, 2013, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/clashes-in-west-bank-villa...
- “Palestinians evicted from West Bank protest camp,” AFP, February 2, 2013, http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hBA5zNgSOF1HeGVXbjgQW...
- “Israeli forces dismantle Palestinian encampment, clash with activists,” Associated Press, February 2, 2013, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/israeli-forces-dismantle...
Transcript: Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 1 February 2013 - 4:25pm
SENATOR CARL LEVIN (D-MI): All right. Alrighty. Here we go. Y'all -- are y'all set?
Sen. LEVIN: (Sounds gavel.) Good morning, everybody.
The committee meets today to consider the nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be secretary of defense.
But before we begin, I want to first welcome Senator Inhofe as the new ranking Republican on our committee, succeeding Senator McCain. Senator McCain has been a great partner over the last six years, and I thank him for all that he has done to get our bills enacted, for all of his leadership on a host of issues, for his support of the work of this committee and for always keeping our hearings lively. Senator Inhofe has shown his strong commitment to the national defense over his 20 years on this committee over his 20 years on this committee, and I know that we're going to work well together to continue the bipartisan tradition of the committee.
We're also pleased to welcome the eight senators who are joining the committee this year, both those who are new to the Senate and those who are new to our committee: Senators Donnelly, Hirono, Kaine and King on the Democratic side and Senators Blunt, Cruz, Fischer and Lee on the Republican side. You will all find that this is a wonderful committee where we work across party lines to support our troops and their families and their national defense mission.
I'd also like to pause for a moment to offer my thanks and the thanks of our committee to Secretary Panetta, who delayed his retirement and his return to California to serve our country first as director of central intelligence and then as secretary of defense. Secretary Panetta has provided a steady hand at the Department of Defense through two very difficult years and has earned our great respect and our appreciation.
Submitted by Megan Iorio on 30 January 2013 - 6:16pm
A key reason many in Congress haven't spoken up against the drone strike policy is that many believe the public overwhelmingly supports the policy. A key reason many believe the public overwhelmingly supports the drone strike policy is that the Washington Post said so in February 2012.
But the question the Washington Post asked in its February 2012 poll, and the way the Post reported it, were highly misleading. And in the last year, a lot of criticism of the drone strike policy has appeared in mainstream press that hadn't appeared before.
As the Senate considers the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, where he will oversee CIA drone strikes, urge the Washington Post to ask the public an unbiased question on drone strikes.
In February 2012, under the headline, "Poll finds broad support for Obama's counterterrorism policies," the Washington Post reported that "The Post-ABC News poll found that 83 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s drone policy."  This Post report had the effect of convincing many people that the drone strike policy was overwhelmingly popular. But here is the question that was actually asked: 
… thinking about the following decisions of the Obama administration, please tell me whether you strongly approve, somewhat approve, somewhat disapprove, or strongly disapprove ... c. The use of unmanned, "drone" aircraft against terrorist suspects overseas
The Post assumed there was no meaningful distinction between current policy and targeting "terrorist suspects." That was the "official story" the Administration had just put out.
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 28 January 2013 - 2:15pm
Just Foreign Policy News, January 28, 2013
Admin extends 2001 AUMF to Mali; Bringing '5 Broken Cameras' to Israeli youth
Go Straight to the News Summary
I) Actions and Featured Articles
Guy Davidi: Bringing 'Five Broken Cameras' to Israeli youth
Bringing the award winning film "Five Broken Cameras" that tells the inspiring story of a Palestinian non-violent movement to Israeli youth. Compelling video: "we're not allowed to learn about this in school."
Get the Facts: Land Confiscation and the Palestinian Protest Villages
Read and share our fact sheet.
**Action: Urge Senators to Challenge Brennan on Drone Strikes
President Obama has nominated John Brennan to lead the CIA. Human Rights Watch - and the Washington Post editorial board have called for the CIA to stop conducting drone strikes, because of the CIA's lack of transparency and accountability to international law. Urge your Senators to question Brennan on drone strike policy and the demand that the CIA get out of drone strikes. Brennan's hearing is Feb. 7.
Sunday, February 17th: rally and march in Washington, DC for action on climate
In his second inaugural, President Obama promised action on climate change. First step: stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Sierra Club, 350.org, and others are organizing a major action in DC on Feb 17.