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

by Joe Scarry

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. 

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus

CA02 – Jared Huffman
CA11 – George Miller
CA13 – Barbara Lee
CA17 – Michael Honda
CA20 – Sam Farr
CA27 – Judy Chu
CA34 – Xavier Becerra
CA37 – Karen Bass
CA40 – Lucille Roybal-Allard
CA41 – Mark Takano
CA43 – Maxine Waters
CA44 – Janice Hahn
CA47 – Alan Lowenthal
CO02 – Jared Polis
CT03 – Rosa DeLauro
DC00 – Eleanor Norton
FL05 – Corrine Brown
FL09 – Alan Grayson
FL22 – Lois Frankel
FL24 – Frederica Wilson
GA04 – Henry Johnson
GA05 – John Lewis
IA02 – David Loebsack
IL04 – Luis Gutierrez
IL07 – Danny Davis
IN07 – André Carson
MA02 – James McGovern
MA04 – Joseph Kennedy
MA07 – Michael Capuano
MD04 – Donna Edwards
MD07 – Elijah Cummings
ME01 – Chellie Pingree
MI13 – John Conyers
MN08 – Richard Nolan
MO05 – Emanuel Cleaver
MS02 – Bennie Thompson
NJ06 – Frank Pallone
NJ12 – Rush Holt
NV04 – Steven Horsford
NY07 – Nydia Velázquez
NY08 – Hakeem Jeffries
NY09 – Yvette Clarke
NY10 – Jerrold Nadler
NY12 – Carolyn Maloney
NY13 – Charles Rangel
NY15 – José Serrano
NY25 – Louise Slaughter
OH11 – Marcia Fudge
OR01 – Suzanne Bonamici
OR04 – Peter DeFazio
PA02 – Chaka Fattah
PA17 – Matt Cartwright
RI01 – David Cicilline
TN09 – Steve Cohen
TX18 – Sheila Jackson Lee
TX30 – Eddie Johnson
VA08 – James Moran
VI00 – Donna Christensen
VT00 – Peter Welch
WA07 – Jim McDermott
WI02 – Mark Pocan
WI04 – Gwen Moore

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 assassinationsin 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 Assassi

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