American Task Force for Lebanon Legislative Council: Cluster Bombs – Letter to Obama

Dear Supporter of the ATFL Legislative Council,

Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) is gathering signatures for a letter she plans to send to President Barack Obama this week. She is asking her Senate colleagues to join her in urging the Obama administration to review U.S. cluster munitions policy. Supporters of the ATFL Legislative Council have already sent 906 letters of support to Senate offices. We need to continue our efforts so that these offices know that you support a policy that protects civilians around the world from the scourge of cluster munitions. The text of the letter is included below.

The letter now has twelve signatories: Sens. Feinstein (CA), Cardin (MD), Casey (PA), Durbin (IL), Feingold (WI), Harkin (IA), Leahy (VT), Menendez (NJ), Merkley (OR), Sanders (VT), Whitehouse (RI), and Wyden (OR). Click on the following link to send a message to your Senators asking them to sign the letter, or thanking them if they have already done so. The deadline for Senators to sign on to the letter is Wednesday, September 23. You can send your message by clicking here:

http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1897/t/9925/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=1459

Sincerely,

George Cody, Ph.D.
Executive Director
American Task Force for Lebanon Legislative Council


Text of the Feinstein Letter to President Barack Obama

September XX, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to urge you to conduct a thorough review of U.S. policy on cluster munitions.

The threat that cluster munitions pose to civilian populations is well known due to their wide area effect and large number of unexploded submunitions or bomblets.  In some cases, up to 40% of cluster submunitions fail to explode initially and, in effect, become de facto landmines.  Years after a conflict has ended, these weapons can be triggered indiscriminately by men, women, and children causing death and serious injury.

Over the past year, the international community has come together to protect innocent civilians from these deadly weapons.  In December 2008, 95 countries (including Great Britain, France, Germany and Norway) came together to sign the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions which would prohibit the production, use, and export of cluster munitions and requires signatories to eliminate their arsenals within eight years.

Unfortunately, the Bush Administration chose not to participate in the Oslo process and refused to sign the treaty.

In June, 2008, the Pentagon issued a new policy on cluster munitions stating that after 2018, the use, sale, and transfer of cluster munitions with failure rates of more than one percent would be prohibited.  While this was a step in the right direction, under this policy the Pentagon would still have the authority to use the 5.5 million cluster bombs containing 728.5 million bomblets with high failure rates in our arsenal.

This is unacceptable.  We can do better.

In fact, the United States has already begun to move away from a reliance on cluster munitions.  No cluster munitions have been used in Iraq since 2003 or in Afghanistan since 2002.  In 2007, Congress passed and President Bush signed into law a provision contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 prohibiting the sale and transfer of cluster munitions with a failure rate of more than one percent.  You renewed this prohibition as a part of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, 2009.

It is highly appropriate, therefore, for the United States to take another look at our official policy on cluster munitions to help save civilian lives and improve the image of our country around the world.  We appreciate your attention to this request and we look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (CA)
Sen. Ben Cardin (MD)
Sen. Robert Casey (PA)
Sen. Richard Durbin (IL)
Sen. Russell Feingold (WI)
Sen. Tom Harkin (IA)
Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT)
Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
Sen. Bernard Sanders (VT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)

Back to Top

Readers are welcome to discuss IOA content on our Facebook page. To participate, please click HERE.