Monday, March 31, 2014

REAL Progressives Demand that the U.S. Come Clean on Drone Killings

Rep. Adam Schiff
Rep. Walter Jones
[UPDATE April 2, 2014: Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have now submitted a bill calling for drone transparency. See Natasha Lennard, "New Bill Aims for Drone Transparency," and Thomas Earnest, "Representatives Schiff and Jones Introduce Bill to Increase Transparency in U.S. Drone Program." 

[See also Joint Statement in Support of The Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act by Amnesty International, Arab American Institute, Center for Civilians in Conflict, Center for Constitutional Rights, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Global Justice Clinic, NYU School of Law, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, National Security Network, Open Society Policy Center, Peace Action West, Reprieve, and Win Without War.

[SEE: hub page for all Resources to SUPPORT the "Come Clean on Drone Killings" Act (Schiff/Jones HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act)]


Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
Reps. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) have called the U.S. on the carpet for dodging the call from the international community to come clean about its drone killings.

Now it's time for all 62 other members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to step up to the plate.

Grijalva and Ellison's initiative creates an opportunity for all of us to demand of our progressive representatives that they, too, take a stand. It's a simple yes-or-no, no-ifs-ands-or-buts question:

"Have you signed on to the CPC co-chairs' demand
that 'our intelligence agencies provide
an annual public accounting
of the number of civilian casualties
caused by drone strikes overseas'?"


The Grijalva-Ellison demand was provoked by a series of events at the United Nations.

First, in October, 2013, a pair of long-awaited reports by the U.N. special rapporteurs on counter-terrorism and on extrajudicial executions were published. The included an unambiguous demand for a full accounting of drone killings.

This was followed by a little-publicized General Assembly vote that use of drones in counter-terrorism must comply with international law.

By early 2014, people were beginning to realize that the government was succeeding in quashing debate about its extrajudicial executions simply through its silence. A consensus began to build around the key point of pressure: the need to bear down on the U.S. government to come clean about its drone killings.

When the U.N. Human Rights council convened in March to take up the matter of the drone killings, the U.S. government had a simple solution: boycott.

And thus it was the sight of the U.S. government fleeing a U.N. convocation into human rights that provoked the call by Reps. Grijalva and Ellison. "Instead of working closely with the international community to help strengthen current international standards on the use of drones, the U.S. government decided to boycott a discussion of the draft resolution. We are troubled by the ease with which dialogue and diplomacy—values at the center of the president’s foreign policy—were cast aside in this debate," they said in their statement.

"Today’s vote highlights the need for Congress to play a larger role in overseeing and regulating the use of lethal force abroad. Requiring that our intelligence agencies provide an annual public accounting of the number of civilian casualties caused by drone strikes overseas — a measure included in the proposed Fiscal Year 2014 Intelligence Authorization Act — would be a good start," they said. (emphasis added)


Reps. Grijalva and Ellison issued their call in their capacity as co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.  The clear next steps is for every other member of the CPC to join the call. This is a simple but unambiguous assertion by Congress of authority in the U.S. drone killing program, and it is vital that there be unanimous support by the CPC.

Please look at the list below and write personally to the member who represents you.  Now is the time for us to insist on public statements from every member of Congress that they unreservedly support the call for the U.S. to come clean about its drone killings.

And if you live in Arizona or Minnesota . . . you have a thank you note to send.

(PS - Raul Grijalva is now a -- CO-SPONSOR of HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act)

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

(note: may of these members signed the May 10, 2012 letter to President Obama calling for drones transparency - 5/10/2012 letter)

CA02 - Jared Huffman @RepHuffman

CA11 - George Miller @askgeorge (5/10/2012 letter)

CA13 - Barbara Lee @RepBarbaraLee (5/10/2012 letter) - Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Peace and Security Task Force. See "Rep. Lee Demands Administration’s Full Response on Drones" March 11, 2013 -- CO-SPONSOR! HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

CA17 - Michael Honda @RepMikeHonda (5/10/2012 letter)

CA20 - Sam Farr @RepSamFarr

CA27 - Judy Chu @RepJudyChu

CA34 - Xavier Becerra @RepBecerra

CA37 - Karen Bass @RepKarenBass

CA40 - Lucille Roybal-Allard @RepRoybalAllard

CA41 - Mark Takano @RepMarkTakano

CA43 - Maxine Waters @MaxineWaters

CA44 - Janice Hahn @Rep_JaniceHahn

CA47 - Alan Lowenthal @RepLowenthal -- CO-SPONSOR! HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

CO02 - Jared Polis @RepJaredPolis

CT03 - Rosa DeLauro @rosadelauro

DC00 - Eleanor Norton @EleanorNorton

FL05 - Corrine Brown @RepCorrineBrown

FL09 - Alan Grayson @AlanGrayson - "Come Clean on Deadly Drone Activities," March 27, 2014 in the Huffington Post

FL22 - Lois Frankel @RepLoisFrankel

FL24 - Frederica Wilson @RepWilson

GA04 - Henry Johnson @RepHankJohnson (5/10/2012 letter)

GA05 - John Lewis @repjohnlewis (5/10/2012 letter)

IA02 - David Loebsack @daveloebsack

IL04 - Luis Gutierrez @RepGutierrez (5/10/2012 letter)

IL07 - Danny Davis @RepDannyDavis

IL09 - Jan Schakowsky @janschakowsky Offered an unsuccessful amendment in late 2013 that would have banned signature strikes.

IN07 - André Carson @RepAndreCarson

MA02 - James McGovern @RepMcGovern (5/10/2012 letter) -- CO-SPONSOR! HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

MA04 - Joseph Kennedy @RepJoeKennedy

MA07 - Michael Capuano @mikecapuano

MD04 - Donna Edwards @repdonnaedwards (5/10/2012 letter)

MD07 - Elijah Cummings @RepCummings

ME01 - Chellie Pingree @chelliepingree

MI13 - John Conyers @repjohnconyers (5/10/2012 letter)

MN08 - Richard Nolan @USRepRickNolan

MO05 - Emanuel Cleaver @repcleaver

MS02 - Bennie Thompson @HomelandDems

NJ06 - Frank Pallone @FrankPallone

NJ12 - Rush Holt @RushHolt (5/10/2012 letter) - MSNBC, October 28, 2013: "Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., argues that no matter the safeguards the U.S. drone program is loosely managed and needs greater oversight."

NV04 - Steven Horsford @RepHorsford

NY07 - Nydia Velázquez @NydiaVelazquez

NY08 - Hakeem Jeffries @RepJeffries

NY09 - Yvette Clarke @YvetteClarke (5/10/2012 letter)

NY10 - Jerrold Nadler @RepJerryNadler (5/10/2012 letter) - Watch Rep. Nadler on drones during a February, 2013, committee hearing.

NY12 - Carolyn Maloney @RepMaloney

NY13 - Charles Rangel @cbrangel (5/10/2012 letter)

NY15 - José Serrano @RepJoseSerrano

NY25 - Louise Slaughter @louiseslaughter

OH11 - Marcia Fudge @RepMarciaFudge

OR01 - Suzanne Bonamici @RepBonamici

OR04 - Peter DeFazio @RepPeterDeFazio (5/10/2012 letter) - CO-SPONSOR! HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

PA02 - Chaka Fattah @chakafattah

PA17 - Matt Cartwright @RepCartwright

RI01 - David Cicilline @davidcicilline

TN09 - Steve Cohen @RepCohen

TX18 - Sheila Jackson Lee @JacksonLeeTX18

TX30 - Eddie Johnson @RepEBJ

VA08 - James Moran @Jim_Moran

VI00 - Donna Christensen @DelegateDonna

VT00 - Peter Welch @PeterWelch (5/10/2012 letter) - July 12, 2013Welch introduces legislation to limit domestic drones, protect privacy -- CO-SPONSOR! HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

WA07 - Jim McDermott @RepJimMcDermott (5/10/2012 letter) -- CO-SPONSOR! HR 4372: the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act

WI02 - Mark Pocan @MarkPocan

WI04 - Gwen Moore @RepGwenMoore

Related posts

A 2013 U.N. report makes it clear that the U.S. has to report fully on all its drone attacks.

(See 2014: The Year of Transparency (for U.S. Drone Use)?)

The reason the Administration is hiding truth about drones is that they don't have a satisfactory answer for how decisions about drone strikes are made.  As we have known all along, we need the public to think about how crummy the whole drone program is, and then they will be ready to be on our side. The best way to get them really thinking is to shine a spotlight on the secrecy, evasiveness, and deceit involved in the U.S. drone program.

(See Drone Killings: Come Clean )

An Insider's Guide to the 7 S's (surveillance, secrecy, and assassinations) in the 2014 Midterms: linchpin races, scandal, principle, drone testing, and some "special" cases.

(See Will the 2014 Midterms be a Referendum on Obama's Surveillance, Secrecy, and Assassinations?)

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