Action Alerts

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?

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

Call Your Senators This Week And Tell Them: Don't Iraq Iran!

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. Yet, it seems that a majority of the Senate hasn't learned its lesson: S. Res. 65, AIPAC/Lindsey Graham's "backdoor to war" with Iran bill, now has 65 co-sponsors. [1] Even Senators who opposed the Iraq war, such as Sens. Boxer and Durbin, have signed on to the bill.

But allies are popping up in unexpected places. The New York Times recently came out in support of negotiations—and slammed S. Res. 65. [2]

We've defeated AIPAC before—and with enough pressure, we can do it again. Over 20,000 Just Foreign Policy members have emailed their Senators on S. Res. 65. But AIPAC supporters have been working hard as well. That's why we need to scale up our opposition.

This week, Just Foreign Policy is joining with the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the National Iranian American Council, and Peace Action West for a national call-in to the Senate opposing Graham's "backdoor to war" with Iran bill. Could you follow up your email with a phone call to your Senator? Here's what you do:

  1. Check to see if your Senator has co-sponsored the bill here:
    http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/sres65-call-in
  2. Call the Capital Switchboard using this toll-free number provided by FCNL: 1-855-68-NO WAR (1-855-686-6927)
  3. Ask to be connected to your Senator's office.
  4. When you are connected to your Senator's office:
    1. If your Senator hasn't co-sponsored the bill, thank them for staying off, and urge them to resist pressure to sign the bill, noting that the bill
      1. tries to "pre-approve" US participation in an Israeli attack on Iran; and
      2. tries to move up the "red line" for war

Call Your Senators on S. Res. 65!

Call your Senators today to express your opposition to S. Res. 65, the AIPAC/Lindsey Graham bill that tries to "pre-approve" US participation in an Israeli attack on Iran and tries to move the "red line" for war from "preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon" to "preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability"—whatever that means.

Here's what you do:

  1. Check whether your Senator is a co-sponsor. Below is a list of current co-signers and the date that they co-signed:

    Sen Ayotte, Kelly [NH] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Barrasso, John [WY] - 3/6/2013
    Sen Baucus, Max [MT] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Begich, Mark [AK] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Bennet, Michael F. [CO] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Blumenthal, Richard [CT] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Blunt, Roy [MO] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Boozman, John [AR] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Boxer, Barbara [CA] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Brown, Sherrod [OH] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Burr, Richard [NC] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Cantwell, Maria [WA] - 3/18/2013
    Sen Cardin, Benjamin L. [MD] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Chambliss, Saxby [GA] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Coats, Daniel [IN] - 3/18/2013
    Sen Coburn, Tom [OK] - 3/12/2013
    Sen Cochran, Thad [MS] - 3/18/2013
    Sen Collins, Susan M. [ME] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Coons, Christopher A. [DE] - 3/6/2013
    Sen Cornyn, John [TX] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Crapo, Mike [ID] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Cruz, Ted [TX] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Donnelly, Joe [IN] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] - 3/13/2013
    Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] - 3/12/2013
    Sen Fischer, Deb [NE] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Flake, Jeff [AZ] - 3/11/2013
    Sen Gillibrand, Kirsten E. [NY] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Grassley, Chuck [IA] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hagan, Kay [NC] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hatch, Orrin G. [UT] - 3/14/2013
    Sen Heitkamp, Heidi [ND] - 3/11/2013
    Sen Heller, Dean [NV] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hirono, Mazie K. [HI] - 3/5/2013
    Sen Hoeven, John [ND] - 2/28/2013
    Sen Inhofe, James M. [OK] - 3/6/2013
    Sen Isakson, Johnny [GA] - 3/5/2013

Tell Your Senator to Question Eric Holder on Drones!

As US Attorney General, Eric Holder has been instrumental in keeping the Justice Department's drone memos detailing the legal justification for US drone strikes a secret from the public—and from Congress.

But on Wednesday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to question Holder on anything related to his role at the Department of Justice.

If you live in AL, AZ, CA, CT, DE, HI, IL, IA, MN, NY, RI, SC, TX, or VT, you have a Senator on the Judiciary Committee. That means you can have an influence on what Holder is asked. Don't you think Holder should have to face some questions on drones?

If so, write to your Senator today to tell him/her to demand the release of the secret drone memos and to question Holder on drones!

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/holder-hearing

Here are some questions we think members of the Senate Judiciary Committee should ask Attorney General Holder:

  1. Will you release the Justice Department drone memos detailing the legal justification for US drone killings? If not, why?
  2. What are the mechanisms in place for the investigation of unlawful killings during a drone strike? What are the mechanisms for redress of such killings?
  3. Has the Justice Department investigated allegations of secondary drone strikes targeting civilian first responders and other extrajudicial killings, such as that of 16 year-old US citizen Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki? If not, why?
  4. What is the Justice Department's definition of “imminent threat”?
  5. Is it true that the CIA is counting every “military age male” killed in a US drone strike as a “militant”? What would this imply about CIA claims that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare”?

If you think Holder should have to face these questions and others, let your Senator know.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/holder-hearing

Here Comes AIPAC, Lobbying For War

On Tuesday, after overcoming months of smears, hysterical rhetoric, and procedural obstruction, Chuck Hagel was confirmed as our next Secretary of Defense. We hope Secretary Hagel will help speed the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan, help avoid war with Iran, and help cut the Pentagon budget, as groups who supported his nomination expect.

But one thing is in the bag: we showed that in Congress we could beat the Likud Lobby—the group of people in Washington that drove the opposition to Hagel's nomination. [1] This faction says that "unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel," as Barack Obama characterized their claims in 2008. [2]

Now the Likud Lobby is pressing the Senate to endorse an Israeli military attack on Iran. If the U.S. were to support such an attack, it would likely draw us into war.

If we could beat the Likud Lobby on Hagel, we can beat them on this.

Urge your Senators to oppose the AIPAC "backdoor to war" bill and to take steps towards peace with Iran and Palestine.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/aipac-2013

AIPAC is holding its annual policy conference next week, during which hundreds of pro-Likud activists will descend on Congress to push your representatives to support war with Iran and a continuation of the status-quo between Israel and Palestine. Here are three things you can ask your reps to do to promote peace instead:

  1. Urge your Senators to oppose the Graham bill endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran. Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing a bill that says that if Israel attacks Iran, the U.S. should support Israel militarily and diplomatically. [3] JTA reports that winning Congressional support for this bill will be a focus of AIPAC's policy conference next week. [4] Urge your Senators to oppose this bill and to insist that the language endorsing an Israeli attack on Iran be removed.

OMG! Did Chuck Hagel say the A word?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse — Senate Republicans and their friends in the Greater Israel Lobby are using classic McCarthyite smear tactics to try to derail the confirmation of former Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham dug up an unsubstantiated report that Hagel once voiced concern over Israel “becoming an apartheid state”, and now the Lobby is making hay of the charge.

Unless we act now—we have until Tuesday when the Senate reconvenes—the Lobby could succeed in smearing a public servant for saying what many high-ranking Israelis, including former prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, have been saying for years. [1] [2]

Join us and our partners at Jewish Voice for Peace now.

Sign our petition to Senator Lindsey Graham telling him that he can't smear Chuck Hagel for having a mainstream Israeli view.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hagel-a-word

[More quotes from prominent Israelis using "the A word" can be found here.]

Graham and friends fail to understand that a responsible United States’ Middle East policy must include recognition of millions of Palestinians living under Israeli military rule without their basic rights, or inside of Israel as second-class citizens. Only then can we hope to reach a lasting peace for both peoples.

Israel’s many public officials who have talked about apartheid recognize this, but most Senate Republicans are acting as if full support of Israel’s settlement policies is required for the position of US Secretary of Defense.

Already, Christians United for Israel has called for President Obama to remove Hagel’s candidacy. And the American Jewish Committee has called for “further deliberation” on Hagel’s candidacy. Now 15 Senate Republicans have written to President Obama, demanding that he withdraw Hagel's nomination. [3]

Are Dumb Foreign Policies Holding Us Back On Addressing Climate Change?

During his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to move the US forward on addressing climate change. So you'd think that rejecting the TransCanada Corporation's proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which would have a significant carbon impact if implemented, would be a no-brainer, right?

Not according to a recent New York Times report. After tens of thousands of activists descended on Washington this past Sunday to press the president to fulfill his promise on climate and reject the Keystone XL application, [1] the New York Times report claimed that the President faced a difficult decision: if Obama rejects the pipeline project as those concerned about climate change demand, he would provoke the Canadian conservative government to retaliate. [2] How? By not supporting bad US foreign policies!

Policies that are in the best interest of the American public ought not to be traded for policies that most Americans have no stake in. Tell President Obama to reject the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline.

www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/reject-keystone

So why does the New York Times think Obama should be afraid of the Conservative Canadian government? One claim was that a rejection of the Keystone XL project would end up

causing a deep and perhaps lasting rift with Canada… a close ally on Iran and Afghanistan… Its leaders have made it clear that an American rejection … could bring retaliation.

But Canada has already withdrawn the bulk of its troops from Afghanistan—a war most Americans want to end anyway. [3] There are only about 950 Canadian soldiers left in Afghanistan, almost all of whom are there solely to train the Afghan army and all of whom will be withdrawn at the end of 2014. [4] And retaliation concerning Iran would take the form of—what, exactly? Less support for further sanctions on Iran, which are already keeping Iranian civilians from getting lifesaving medicines? [5]

Call the Senate Intelligence Committee: Hold A Public Hearing on CIA Drone Strikes!

If you live in California, Oregon, New Mexico, Colorado, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Maine, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Indiana, or Idaho, you have a Senator on the Senate Intelligence Committee. Please call one of your Senator's local offices on Monday—or anytime during the Senate recess this week when you can—and urge them to support a public hearing on CIA drone strikes in the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Local offices and phone numbers are listed below.

Our goal in this campaign is to get the Senate Intelligence Committee to publicly commit to holding a public hearing on CIA drone strikes before the Senate confirms John Brennan to head the CIA. (Not necessarily to hold a public hearing before then, but to get the Committee to publicly commit to holding a public hearing in the future.)

After you're done, report your call here.

If you don't live in one of the above listed states, please forward a link to this page to folks you know who do who might be willing to call.

Also, you can sign our petition to Senator Feinstein: Hold a Public Hearing on CIA Drone Strikes

Dianne Feinstein, California, Chair
San Francisco Office: (415) 393-0707
Fresno Office: (559) 485-7430
Los Angeles Office: (310) 914-7300
San Diego Office: (619) 231-9712

Ron Wyden, Oregon
Portland Office: (503) 326-7525
Eugene Office: (541) 431-0229
Bend Office: (541) 330-9142
LaGrande Office: (541) 962-7691
Medford Office: (541) 858-5122
Salem Office: (503) 589-4555

Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
Santa Fe Office: (505) 988-6647
Alburquerque Office: (505) 346-6601
Farmington Office: (505) 325-5030
Las Cruces Office: (575) 523-6561
Roswell Office: (575) 622-7113

Mark Udall, Colorado
Denver Office: (303) 650-7820

Hey, Sen. Feinstein, Read the New York Times!

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. [1]

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. [2]

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.

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

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

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