Notes on U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Hearing
Date: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Time: 02:15 PM
Location: S-116 Capitol Building
Attended / compiled by Anna McMahon, Intern, Middle East/North Africa Advocacy Department, Amnesty International USA
U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Presiding: Senator Menendez
Summary: Unanimous passage of Resolution 384 from Committee.
“Expressing the sense of the Senate concerning the humanitarian crisis in Syria and neighboring countries, resulting humanitarian and development challenges, and the urgent need for a political solution to the crisis.”
U.S. Rep Hank Johnson and four other Members of Congress have written a letter to President Obama urging him to push Saudi Arabian officials to be “more constructive” regarding political reform in Bahrain. The core sentence in the letter is the following:
Long-term stability in Bahrain can only be achieved through meaningful political reform, and we urge you to encourage the Saudi government to play a more constructive role in this regard.
Being “more constructive?” That’s definitely an understatement.
As my colleagues wrote in our April 2012 report, “Flawed Reforms Bahrain Fails To Achieve Justice For Protesters” (PDF):
On 15 March 2011, Saudi Arabia sent at least 1,200 troops to Bahrain across the causeway linking the two states, reportedly at the request of the Bahraini government. The same day,the King of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency, known as the State of National Safety, and gave the security forces sweeping powers to arrest and detain protesters and ban all protests.
This Friday, President Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia, a country whose government is highly repressive. But instead of raising human rights, Obama’s trip has been described by The New York Times as focused on “fence-mending.”
This is the wrong approach.
As we say in our Amnesty International letter to President Obama:
For too long, the U.S. has put geopolitics and access to energy over support for human rights in its relationship with Saudi Arabia. As an ally of the United States, Saudi Arabia has been spared the blunt criticisms that U.S. officials make of other governments that commit serious human rights violations.
Want to read the full letter? Scroll down, or download the PDF.
The HKS Citizen (Harvard Kennedy School)
October 26, 2010
By Sanjeev Bery
Over the last two months, the US government has dramatically increased drone missile strikes in Pakistan. Unfortunately, mainstream US newspapers have not shown the inclination to ask tough questions regarding the change in policy.
In a replay of the softball coverage that preceded the second US invasion of Iraq, some of the biggest US newspapers are once again showing how easy it is to embed a pro-government bias in their reporting. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and The New York Times have all covered the news by mostly quoting US officials while ignoring critics.
The footage shows all the signs of a professor angry at a student for asking exactly the right questions.
Caught in an emotional moment, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice is on tape uttering such high-minded retorts as “do your homework first” and “maybe before you make allegations about Guantanamo, you should read.”
Skip to minute 3:30 to cut right to the fireworks:
The incident happened at a Stanford University dormitory reception last Monday. Stanford junior Jeremy Cohn decided to ask some tough questions about torture. He didn’t realize he was being taped at the time.
Apparently, Al Qaeda is a bigger threat than Nazi Germany was.
Key Condoleeza quotes: