We Can Do this regarding Drones: April 17, 2014
A new documentary reveals that CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have been carried out by regular U.S. Air Force personnel. Former U.S. drone pilot Brandon Bryant says:
"... the lie is that it's always been the air force that has flown those missions. The CIA might be the customer but the air force has always flown it. A CIA label is just an excuse to not have to give up any information. That is all it has ever been." (1)
Members of the House can do something very simple to address this. They can co-sponsor the Schiff-Jones bill, which would require the government to report on who is being killed by drone strikes.
Call Rep. Chellie Pingree at (202) 225-6116 today and say
I'm calling to urge Rep. Chellie Pingree to co-sponsor H.R.4372, the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act. This bipartisan bill would require the government to report on who is being killed by U.S. drone strikes, including how many civilians. The American people have the right to know what is being done in our name. You can co-sponsor the bill by contacting Rep. Adam Schiff’s office or Rep. Walter Jones’ office.
When you're done, report your call with our easy response form:
CIA chief John Brennan has claimed that civilian casualties from drone strikes have been "exceedingly rare." The record of independent reporting strongly indicates that John Brennan's claim was not true. But because of the secrecy of the program, the CIA has not been forced to account for the discrepancy between their claims and the record of independent reporting. (2)
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced legislation (3) – H.R.4372, the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act – to require an annual report on the number of combatants and civilians killed or injured annually by U.S. drone strikes. (4) The Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act has been endorsed by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. (5)
1. 1. “CIA's Pakistan Drone Strikes Carried Out by Regular US air force Personnel: Former drone operators claim in new documentary that CIA missions flown by USAF's 17th Reconnaissance Squadron,” Chris Woods, Guardian, April 15, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/apr/14/cia-drones-pakistan-us-air-...
2. “Pass the Drone Strike Transparency Act,” Robert Naiman, Huffington Post, April 9, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/pass-the-drone-strike-tra_b_...
3. “H.R.4372 - To require the President to make publicly available an annual report on the use of targeted lethal force by remotely-piloted aircraft,” http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4372/
4. “Reps. Adam Schiff and Walter Jones Introduce Bipartisan Bill Requiring Annual Reporting on Drone Casualties,” April 2, 2014, http://schiff.house.gov/press-releases/reps-adam-schiff-and-walter-jones...
5. “Joint Statement in Support of The Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act,” April 2, 2014, http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/joint-statement-in-support-of-t...
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FCNL’s lobbying to support diplomacy with Iran is working! In January, the Senate was poised to vote on new sanctions on Iran that would undermine delicate diplomatic negotiations. But the bill has stalled. Even before President Obama used his State of the Union address to threaten a veto, a growing number of senators—including several cosponsors of the legislation—publicly opposed efforts to bring this bill to the floor and supported ongoing talks to resolve the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.
[Friends Committee on National Legislation email newsletter, January 30, 2014]
Many people talked directly with their senators or their staff and written and published letters to the editor (see letters that have been published) to support negotiations and oppose sanctions. Our lobbyist Kate Gould, who has been an integral part of a Washington-based coalition pressing for diplomacy with Iran, heard from congressional staff that this groundswell of grassroots opposition helped block this bill from coming to the floor.
But anti-diplomacy legislation may still come to a vote later this year, particularly if diplomatic negotiations stall. Please write a letter to the editor today, calling on your senators by name to support, not sabotage, diplomatic talks with Iran. We hope you’ll stay engaged on this important initiative for peace.
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Can Letters Lead to Legislation?
One letter to the editor can start a conversation. Multiple letters to the editor can start legislation.
That's what we learned when we sat down with Madeline Rose, FCNL's newest lobbyist. Just a few months ago, Madeline was working on the Hill. She reports that the first task for the interns every morning was to gather the press clips and any news relevant to the district. She says that sometimes these communications actually led to legislation introduced, because
the Representative saw the genuine concern of articles, editorials and letters to the editor.
To be effective, the office needs to read your letter in the first place. Make sure to mention your member of Congress by name so your letter comes up in daily press clips.
Give it a try! Over the next week, look up how to contact your local newspaper directly – the information will usually be on the opinion page or online. Then write a response to a news story that speaks to you. Get more tips on writing letters to the editor.
from Friends Committee on National Legislation www.fcnl.org
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Write Letters to the Editor
Letters written by FCNL constituents and staff can be read in newspapers across the country. Letters-to the-editor are extremely effective for alerting members of Congress to issues FCNL cares about.
Elected officials carefully monitor newspapers to gauge local opinion. By mentioning your senators or representative by name and stating the specific legislative action you would like them to take, you can guarantee that your letter will catch the attention of your members of Congress.
Write a letter to your local newspaper today! You can use FCNL's Media Action Center to send it, and these tips to help you get started. Please let us know if you get a letter published.
Keep it short
Try to limit your letter to 100-200 words or less, and focus on a single issue. In the first paragraph, state your main point and why the issue is important to you. (What impact does the issue have on the local community? How are you personally invested in a particular policy or piece of legislation?) Provide facts, quotes, and numbers in the second. Use the last paragraph to restate your point and make your recommendation.
Respond to a news story
Open with a specific reference to a recent news story, editorial, or previous letter. "Recent" means no older than a few days. For national papers, no further back than 48 hours.
Make a local connection
Your letter will be of more interest to editors of your local paper if you highlight the local impact of a national or foreign policy issue.
Demonstrate your reach
If you know that your opinion also represents that of others, be sure to mention it. However, if you want to submit a letter signed from representatives of more than one group, be aware that most newspapers limit signatures to two or three names.
Consider your options
Submit letters to your local paper for the best chance of publication, though you may certainly submit to national publications as well. Other options include suburban or neighborhood papers, specialized magazines, ethnic press, religious publications, and college alumni magazines.
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The Action Committee will continue to address issues such as drones, the military budget, urgencies of US policy regarding Iran, Syria, and other places, legislation to limit elements of war authority voted after September 11, global arms treaties regarding nuclear weapons, and more. It meets at 10 am on the first Monday of every month at State Street Church.