John Conyers

Amplify calls to open Hodeida port to avert famine in Yemen

On Friday, March 10, Stephen O’Brien, the United Nations’ under secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, addressed the United Nations Security Council about what must happen to avert the threat of famine in Yemen. He said: "only a combined response with the private sector can stem a famine: commercial imports must be allowed to resume through all entry points in Yemen, including and especially Hudaydah port, which must be kept open and expanded." Sacha Llorenti, Bolivia's Ambassador to the UN said: "Restrictions have to be lifted at the port of Hodeidah to allow access to humanitarian aid."

On Thursday, March 9, 53 House Democrats wrote to Secretary of State Tillerson, urging him to "use all U.S. diplomatic tools to help open the Yemeni port of Hodeida to international aid humanitarian aid organizations to allow them to import food, fuel, and medicine into northern Yemen and save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children who face starvation."

Tell your Rep: Help us avert famine in Yemen

The UN and the Red Cross say Yemen is on the brink of famine, with hundreds of thousands of children at risk of starvation if Yemen's Hodeida port is not quickly opened to international humanitarian aid.

Rep. Ted Lieu and Rep. John Conyers are circulating a letter to Secretary of State Tillerson, urging him to use all U.S. diplomatic tools to help open Hodeida port to international humanitarian aid to avert famine.

Call your Representative now at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer or leave a message, you can say something like:

"Please sign the Lieu-Conyers letter to help avert famine in Yemen. Help open Hodeida port to international humanitarian aid."

When you've made your call, please report it below.

And if you haven't yet signed our petition urging House Members to sign the Lieu-Conyers letter, you can do that here.

House to Vote on Saudi Cluster Bomb Ban - Call Your Rep. Now!

On Tuesday the House Rules Committee agreed that the Conyers amendment permanently banning the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia will be voted on by the full House.

Call your Representative now at (202) 224-3121. When you reach a staffer or leave a message, you can say something like:

"I urge you to vote yes on the Conyers amendment to ban the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia."

When you've made your call, please report it below.

Don't assume your Representative is a lost cause on this. There's a new bipartisan skepticism towards Saudi Arabia in Congress. We've never had a vote like this before, and we don't know how it will go.

Please call your Representative now and urge them to support the Conyers amendment to ban the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia.

And if you haven't signed our petition urging Congress to ban the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia, you can do that here.

Thank your Rep. on Syria - and ask them to do more

Your Representative in Congress was one of 27 Members who signed a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to maintain his opposition to sending MANPADs to Syrian insurgents.

Please call your Representative at (202) 224-3121 and say thank you - and ask them to take another step to limit military escalation.

When you reach a staffer, you can say something like,

"As your constituent, I thank you for your leadership in signing the Conyers-Yoho letter against sending MANPADs to Syrian insurgents. I urge you to co-sponsor the Lieu-Yoho bill, HJR 90, to condition US military support for Saudi Arabia on Saudi cooperation against terrorism and protection of civilians in Yemen."

When you've made your call, please report it below.

And if you haven't signed our petition in support of the Lieu-Yoho bill, you can do that here.

Gaza Blockade Hangs Fire in Cairo: Where Is the Anti-War Left?

The greatest struggle facing the anti-war movement in the United States is the struggle to get people who come to anti-war demonstrations after a war starts to engage politically to prevent the same wars in the future. In the case of U.S. policy towards Iran, we created a political movement to support diplomacy with Iran to prevent war in the future. But in the case of Gaza, there is no political movement in the United States to support diplomacy to prevent war in the future.

Consider:

1. While Israel was bombing and invading Gaza, there were demonstrations across the United States against the war and against U.S. support for the war.

JFP Statement: House bars transfer of MANPADS to Syria

June 20, 2014
10:30 AM
CONTACT: Just Foreign Policy
Robert Naiman: (202) 448-2898 x1Naiman@justforeignpolicy.org

Statement of Robert Naiman, Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy, on House passage of Conyers-Yoho amendment to prohibit transfer of MANPADS to Syria

Amb. Ford: Give Syrian Insurgents Manpads to Shoot Down Iranian Planes

 Last September, Congress said no to plans to bomb Syria, by failing to approve an authorization for the use of military force.

Now there is a new push -- exemplified by this New York Times op-ed by former Ambassador Robert Ford -- for deeper U.S. military intervention in Syria. Advocates for U.S. military intervention are assuring us that there will be no direct U.S. bombing of Syria. Instead, so-called "moderate rebels" in Syria (whoever they are) will do the bombing on behalf of the U.S., with U.S.-supplied weapons.

Yes, Virginia, We Can Do Something About the Drone Strikes

There's a conventional wisdom in Washington that there's nothing we can do politically to stop the U.S. government from killing innocent civilians with drone strikes.

But it ain't necessarily so.

Speaking only for myself, I'm willing to stipulate that killing "high value terrorists" who are known to be actively preparing to kill Americans is wildly popular, regardless of whether it is constitutional and legal.

Here's what's not wildly popular: killing innocent civilians.

This is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. This is an American issue. Go to the reddest of Red America. Stand outside a megachurch or military base in the Deep South. Find me twelve Christian Republicans who are willing to sign their names that they want the U.S. government to kill innocent civilians. I bet you can't do it. Killing innocent civilians is un-American.

Consider: after what widely reported news event did even Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum say maybe we ought to get our troops out of Afghanistan? After it was reported that a U.S. soldier massacred Afghan civilians.

The historian Howard Zinn suggested that it's a backhanded compliment to the American people that our government lies to us about what it's doing in other people's countries. Because it suggests that if the American people knew, they would never stand for it.

Thanks to a New York Times report this week, we now know. In an echo of the Colombian military's "false positives" scandal, our government is killing people with drone strikes and then decreeing that "military age men" killed by U.S. drone strikes are automatically "combatants." Born a chicken, raised a chicken, now you're a fish.

House Moots Afghan Exit, Iran War, Military Budget, and "Signature" Drone Strikes

On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is expected to take up consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act. Amendments will be offered to expedite military withdrawal from Afghanistan, to oppose war with Iran, to cut the military budget, and to stop "signature" drone strikes that target people without knowing who will be killed.

 

According to the way the House operates, the authorization bill is the most open opportunity to challenge current policy. When the House considers the appropriations bill, amendments can be offered to cut money for specific programs. But it is difficult to otherwise alter policy when the appropriation is considered, according to the rules of the House. On the authorization bill, there is much more scope to try to direct policy.

Every American who cares about war and peace ought to be calling Congress. The Friends Committee on National Legislation has established a toll-free number that connects you to the Capitol Switchboard: 1-877-429-0678. Then you can ask to be transferred to your Representative's office. [If you can't call, you can write here.]

What should you tell your Representative's office? Whatever else you do, you should tell them that you are a constituent and give them your address to document that fact.

Then you have some choices to make about what to emphasize. Many amendments have been offered. At this writing, we don't know which amendments will be allowed on the floor by the Rules Committee. Once the Rules Committee has decided which amendments it will allow, there might not be much time before voting begins. So it's better to call when you can and emphasize broad themes.

Kucinich Calls the Question on Libya War Powers

Last week, voting on amendments on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the House of Representatives began taking action to limit U.S. military involvement in Libya's civil war.

Now the House leadership has agreed to a vote on House Concurrent Resolution 51, introduced by Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, which would direct the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove U.S. armed forces from the Libya war. The vote could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.

The U.S. military intervention in Libya was never authorized by Congress, and thus violates U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution.

Some have argued that other Presidents have violated the War Powers Resolution, therefore it is no big deal. This is a breathtaking argument on its face: "everyone breaks the law." But moreover, as the New York Times noted on May 25:

 

many presidents, citing their power as commander in chief, have bypassed a section that says they need prior Congressional authorization to deploy forces into hostilities, except if the country is under attack. But there is far less precedent of presidents' challenging another section that says they must terminate any still-unauthorized operations after 60 days. In 1980, the Justice Department concluded that the deadline was constitutional. [my emphasis]

On May 20, the New York Times reported, referring to the 1980 Justice Department memorandum,