Friday, April 8, 2016

A letter to Lois Frankel, U.S. Congresswoman from Florida:

Dear Representative Frankel:

On February 17, 2016, Representative Hank Johnson of Georgia sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry requesting assurances that the Leahy law restrictions on assistance to foreign security forces are being applied to Israel and Egypt.  The letter, signed by nine other representatives and Senator Patrick Leahy, calls on the Department of State to investigate reports of human rights violations by Israeli and Egyptian forces, and to determine what action should be taken under the Leahy law.

In their letter to Secretary Kerry, the members of Congress express concern that U.S. military aid to military units in Israel and Egypt has not been subjected to the same rigorous tracking mechanisms that U.S. military aid is subjected to elsewhere in the world. This type of congressional oversight is absolutely essential to the success of our democratic system.

In addition to Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (VT), this letter was signed by Representatives Andrè Carson (IN), Sam Farr (CA), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Betty McCollum (MN), Jim McDermott (WA), James McGovern (MA) and Chellie Pingree (ME).  What is most troubling to me, as a Floridian, is the lack of a signature by any of our representatives from the sunshine state.  You, Lois Frankel, did not sign this letter and as your constituent, I want to know why you failed in your duty to uphold the law.

Our laws are what make our country the great nation it is and failure to follow those laws is tantamount to anarchy.  When Israel and Egypt violate our laws, and use our funding to abuse the basic human rights of others, then we are responsible for those actions and must act.  I am very proud of those members of Congress who had the temerity to stand up and speak out against these egregious actions but I am ashamed that my own Representative would be so cowardly to not put her name on the paper.

Lois, I am calling on you as my elected Representative to Congress to do the right thing.  I want you to send a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry lauding the efforts of your fellow Representatives and adding your name to the list.  I want you to show that you respect our laws and our land and if you refuse to do this, then I am calling on you to resign your seat.  If you refuse to uphold the laws of the United States, including the Leahy law, then you must not remain a member of the U. S. Congress.


Patt Gavin

The letter sent by the Representatives to Secretary of State Kerry follows:

February 17, 2016
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520 
Dear Secretary Kerry:
We commend you for your extraordinary efforts to try to bring peace and stability to the Middle East. We write today to request information regarding the application of the Leahy Law in Israel and Egypt. We are also inquiring about specific allegations of gross violations of human rights by the security forces of both countries.
According to information we have received, the manner in which U.S. military assistance has been provided to Israel and Egypt, since the Camp David Accords, including the delivery of assistance at the military service level, has created a unique situation that has hindered implementation of normal mechanisms for monitoring the use of such assistance. Please update us on what mechanisms are in place to monitor the use of such assistance by Israel and Egypt.
Additionally, while the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is responsible for processing vetting cases, the Department’s regional bureaus and our embassies have a responsibility to help document and determine the credibility of information related to allegations of gross violations of human rights by foreign security forces. Please provide a description of the procedures used by the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and our embassies in Israel and Egypt to investigate such allegations in order to enhance the quality of information being maintained and evaluated by DRL and made available to you.
There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt – incidents that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of U.S. military assistance. We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us of your findings:
• Israel: Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have reported what may be extrajudicial killings by the Israeli military and police of Fadi Alloun, Saad Al- Atrash, Hadeel Hashlamoun, and Mutaz Ewisa. There are also reports of the use of torture in the cases of Wasim Marouf and Ahmed Manasra.
• Egypt: Human Rights Watch has described the August 2013 massacre in Rab'aa Square as “the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.” Recent reports document what may be extrajudicial killings by Egyptian security forces of Sayed Dwedar, Nasser al-Hafi, Osama al-Husseini, Hisham Khifagy, Gamal Khalifa, Abd al-Fattah Ibrahim al-Sisi, Taher Abdullah, Muatasam al-Agizi and Hisham al-Dessouky. There have also been a number of reported cases of forced disappearance including Asma’a Khalaf, Islam Atito, Sabry al-Ghoul, Esraa al-Taweel, Omar Ali, and Souhaib Sa’ad,and Al-Sayed al-Rassed.
In light of these reports we request that you act promptly to determine their credibility and whether they trigger the Leahy Law and, if so, take appropriate action called for under the law.
Thank you for your consideration.
Rep. Hank Johnson (GA), Senator Patrick Leahy (VT), Representatives Andrè Carson (IN), Sam Farr (CA), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Betty McCollum (MN), Jim McDermott (WA), James McGovern (MA) and Chellie Pingree (ME).