When the CIA says there aren’t that many civilians being killed in drone strikes, we should trust them—right? Wrong.
We’ve seen far too many examples lately of the government not being straight with Congress and the public. There are independent groups that document the casualties from drone strikes, but the government is keeping their own information in the dark.
Help shine a light on the US’s drone policy. Tell your representative to cosponsor the Targeted Lethal Force Transparency Act.
Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) have introduced this bill that would require an annual report detailing casualties from drone strikes, and a retroactive report on the last five years. It sounds simple, but it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle we need to challenge the government’s targeting killing policy. Our campaign to rein them in is hobbled by a lack of information about what is actually happening, and this bill will help us get it.
Take action now to get the information we need to expose out-of-control drone strikes.
Hiding this information isn’t necessary for our national security. It keeps people from taking away a tool that the government is abusing, with horrendous consequences. There is ample evidence out there that US drones strikes are terrorizing communities and creating a backlash that could have serious consequences. If we speak up now, we can show Congress that the public demands this information and won’t stay quiet until we get it. The more information Congress gets straight from the source, the more tools they have to engage in oversight and raise important questions about an unexamined policy.
Let’s bear witness for the people killed by US drones and make sure our government is held accountable. Tell your representative to cosponsor the bill.
Thank you for taking action.
Join the National Call-in Day
Two new bills give Congress an opportunity to step up and make cuts to nuclear weapons.
The president’s budget request for 2015 shows that his priorities are still dangerously backwards, asking for yet another increase for nuclear weapons while crucial domestic spending continues to be slashed.
Our allies in Congress are stepping up to take these misguided priorities head on. Companion bills have been introduced in the House and Senate that would save $100 billion in the next ten years by cutting nuclear weapons and related programs. In the Senate, Sen. Ed Markey’s (D-MA) bill is the SANE Act (S. 2070) and in the House, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has introduced the REIN-IN Act (H.R. 4107). We need you to call your representatives right now to get them on board to cut nukes.
If Congress grants the request for a 7% increase in the nuclear weapons budget this year, it would be one of the only parts of the entire federal budget that would get such a large increase in its budget. How would you like to get a 7% raise this year? Or for your child’s school to get a 7% increase in its budget? Call your representatives to tell them that nuclear weapons are the last thing that should get a raise this year.
Sen. Markey and Rep. Blumenauer have stepped up to introduce bills that would challenge these insane spending increases, and save $100 billion that should be spent in our communities. Organizations all over the country are working together to urge members of Congress to cosponsor these bills and stand for cutting nukes. Our calling tool makes it quick and easy for you to join the National Call-in Day.
The annual ritual of raising alarms and tearing out hair over the tiny size of the Pentagon budget has started again, but don’t believe the hype. There’s still tons of money in the Pentagon budget, and if we don’t act, they’ll find a way to add even more.
The proposed Pentagon budget for next year is the first one that meets spending caps set by Congress—caps that are still far higher than what is needed to keep us safe. But there’s another huge pot of unlimited money in the war budget, known as the Overseas Contingency Operations Fund.
That’s right, almost 13 years after the invasion of Afghanistan, the US government has an unlimited fund for war-fighting. Members of Congress who are panicking about funding cuts for their favorite programs in the base Pentagon budget are going to try to shove those programs into the OCO fund even though they have nothing to do with fighting wars overseas.
We need to stop this backdoor attempt to waste our tax dollars. Tell your senators and representative to oppose the slush fund.
The administration is still deciding on the war budget, but they have offered a placeholder of $79.4 billion. That’s barely a drop from previous years, even though the highest estimate for troops in Afghanistan next year is 10,000. Members of Congress will be tempted to pad that ridiculous amount with their pet projects.
We’ve had bipartisan support for reining in OCO funding before. Congress is starting to develop their version of next year’s budget, so they need to hear from us now. If we bring this practice into the sunlight, we can pressure Congress to stop this waste. Send your messages today.
There are a lot of myths flying around about the Pentagon’s budget released last week. Democrats and Republicans alike are lamenting supposed spending reductions–a story we’ve heard before. Despite the fact that all the hyperbole about the impacts of Pentagon spending cuts in sequestration has been disproven by the lack of catastrophe in the past few years, weapons spending boosters are going to be raising a fuss again. Our own Jon Rainwater has a piece in the Oakland Tribune this week going after these myths:
A raft of media outlets led coverage of the president’s Pentagon budget request with the notion that the Pentagon planned to “reduce the Army to pre-World War II levels.”
This is the sound bite that stood in for real analysis. Pundits missed the big picture, arguing over the wisdom of the reductions. The New York Times called the move “prudent realism.” The conservative Weekly Standard branded it “deeply unsettling.”
When people hear “the Army is being cut to pre-World War II levels,” they are thinking about military forces as a whole. But the Air Force didn’t even exist in 1940. The Marine Corps has grown exponentially since that earlier era.
After the post- 9/11 spike is trimmed, a force far larger than before World War II remains.
But the bigger problem with the reduction narrative is that the proposed $496 billion for the Department of Defense represents historically sky-high spending.
One of the silliest claims you’re likely to hear is that increasing the Pentagon budget is somehow necessary because of the Ukraine crisis. William Hartung dismantles this argument well:
The idea that more Pentagon spending equals more influence over the behavior of other countries is, to borrow a phrase from Samuelson, “manifestly untrue.” Vladimir Putin is not huddled in Moscow toting up the figures in the Pentagon’s latest budget proposal, and then using it as a guide as to whether to take military action. Nor is any other world leader. They are following their perceived interests, weighing them against the consequences that might result from any given course of action. Even if the United States were spending twice the half trillion dollars per year it now spends on the Pentagon, it would not have deterred Putin from moving into Crimea. The challenge is to find a mix of diplomatic and economic measures that can persuade Russia to reverse course and recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty. This may or may not work, but it offers the best hope for resolving the situation. There is no military solution, and to suggest otherwise merely distracts from the difficult task at hand.
Congress needs to hear from you now.
Today, the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) has 10,000—yes,10,000—supporters on Capitol Hill pushing a hawkish, misinformed position on Iran diplomacy.
Don’t let this be a one-sided debate. Tell Congress not to undermine talks with Iran.
AIPAC has been the main proponent of the dangerous Senate sanctions bill that President Obama threatened to veto because it could jeopardize talks with Iran. If talks fail, we could be headed down a path to war with Iran.
You and thousands of people around the country heard the warning call and bombarded Congress with messages opposing this bill. The outpouring was remarkable, and we put AIPAC back on its heels. They backed off and said they didn’t support a vote on the bill at this time. But they’re not giving up. They’re still pressuring senators to cosponsor the bill, and to sign a similar letter that tries to micromanage the diplomatic process.
Show Congress the political stakes of jeopardizing this opportunity for peace. Take action now.
We have allies in Congress who are standing up for diplomacy. But they can’t withstand intense pressure from AIPAC and groups like them if we meet their aggressiveness with silence. Pro-peace groups around the country are mobilizing today, and we need your voice. Take action.
Next week, the president will present his 2015 budget to Congress (about a month later than usual). With elections coming up, there will be a brief window of time for Congress to weigh in.
While we don’t have all the details yet, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previewed the budget on Monday. The major thing it revealed was something you probably could have guessed anyway: it’s too big.
The Pentagon finally reconciles with the reality of congressional spending caps, but only for one year. Even then, it throws in a wish list to give Congress ideas about upping the Pentagon budget this year:
The US Defense Department on March 4 will propose a five-year plan that boosts Pentagon spending by a total of $115 billion over sequestration spending caps, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the plan.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday will preview the plan, along with other key items included in DoD’s $496 billion 2015 budget proposal. The budget proposal ignores federally mandated spending caps between 2016 and 2019. Defense News has reported that the fiscal 2016 budget projection would be $36 billion over the sequester cap.
While DoD’s fiscal 2015 budget falls in line with defense spending caps for that year, the budget will include a separate $26 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.” The additional $26 billion would go toward readiness, the sources said.
Sara Sorcher at National Journal offers 5 things to know about next year’s Pentagon budget. They’re all useful to look at, but one in particular is a major issue that Peace Action West will be keeping an eye on and reaching out to you to take action on:
4. The wartime budget may turn into a slush fund.
The Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations account, which has been tacked onto the budget for years to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, could serve as a budget gimmick.
It’s supposed to be emergency war spending. But the OCO—which is not subject to the budget caps—may encompass other priorities that should, theoretically, be in the Pentagon’s base budget.
This happened in fiscal 2014, when the cost per troop in Afghanistan skyrocketed to over $2 million from a remarkably stable $1.3 million in previous years, according to Todd Harrison at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The Pentagon apparently added at least $20 billion—and Congress another $10 billion—to the fiscal 2014OCO account, for things not directly related to war, like depot maintenance for major weapons systems, and pay and benefits for service members not necessarily contingent on deployments.
The fiscal 2014 war funding request was $79 billion, for some 38,000 troops in Afghanistan. “If we see the troop level drop to about 10,000 in 2015, we should see a significant reduction in the budget—by almost a quarter,” Harrison said. If the cost per deployed troop is higher—even as the size of the U.S. force is lower, and the scope of military operations smaller—that’s a “good indicator we’re adding costs in there that don’t belong there.”
Thousands of you contacted your representative urging him or her to sign a letter expressing support for diplomacy with Iran and opposing counterproductive legislation that could jeopardize talks and make war more likely.
The letter came out today with a whopping 104 signatures. This sends another strong message after the Menendez/Kirk sanctions bill stalled out in the Senate, and will help blunt the momentum of any new bad legislation. Thank you for taking action!
See if your representative signed in the list below:
Dear Mr. President,
As Members of Congress—and as Americans—we are united in our unequivocal commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. The proliferation of nuclear weapons in the Middle East would threaten the security of the United States and our allies in the region, particularly Israel.
The ongoing implementation of the Joint Plan of Action agreed to by Iran and the “P5+1” nations last November increases the possibility of a comprehensive and verifiable international agreement. We understand that there is no assurance of success and that, if talks break down or Iran reneges on pledges it made in the interim agreement, Congress may be compelled to act as it has in the past by enacting additional sanctions legislation. At present, however, we believe that Congress must give diplomacy a chance. A bill or resolution that risks fracturing our international coalition or, worse yet, undermining our credibility in future negotiations and jeopardizing hard-won progress toward a verifiable final agreement, must be avoided.
We remain wary of the Iranian regime. But we believe that robust diplomacy remains our best possible strategic option, and we commend you and your designees for the developments in Geneva. Should negotiations fail or falter, nothing precludes a change in strategy. But we must not imperil the possibility of a diplomatic success before we even have a chance to pursue it.
3 Bishop, Sanford
7 Butterfield, GK
13 Clarke, Yvette
23 Davis, Danny
29 Duncan Jr (R)
36 Fudge, Marcia
40 Hanna (R)
44 Johnson, EB
45 Johnson, Hank
46 Jones, Walter (R)
49 Kelly, Robin
53 Lee, Barbara
59 Massie (R)
64 McNerney, Jerry
66 Miller, George
68 Moran, Jim
69 Negrete McLeod
79 Price, David
85 Ryan, Tim
88 Scott, Bobby
93 Thompson, Bennie
94 Thompson, Mike
98 Van Hollen