National Call-in Day March 30th
When nearly 100 nations — including Britain, France, and Germany — gathered in early December to sign a global treaty banning cluster bombs, the U.S. was conspicuously absent. These weapons always end up killing more civilians than soldiers.
President Obama and Congress can fix U.S. policy. In fact, they have already started. In March, Congress passed a law permanently banning exports of nearly all U.S.-made cluster bombs. Now we need Congress to act to prevent any further use by the United States.
Call your senators on Monday, March 30, and ask them to co-sponsor the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act, S. 416. This legislation would prohibit the U.S. from using any cluster bombs that leave behind an unacceptably large number of landmine-like “dud” cluster sub-munitions — small bombs that keep on killing. It would also prohibit any use of these weapons in areas where civilians are normally present — like cities and villages. Increased support for this legislation in the Senate will show President Obama that he has the public’s backing to sign this treaty and send it to the Senate for ratification.
Whom to Call
Are you from California, Maine, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, or Vermont? Both of your senators are already on board! That’s great! You can still call your representative and urge her or him to cosponsor the companion bill in the House, H.R. 981.
Are you from Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, West Virginia, or Wisconsin? One of your senators is already co-sponsoring, so you need only call one! Call: Chuck Grassley (IA), John Kerry (MA), Carl Levin (MI), Frank Lautenberg (NJ), Tom Udall (NM), Arlen Specter (PA), George Voinovich (OH), Jack Reed (RI), John Thune (SD), John Rockefeller (WV), Herb Kohl (WI).
Do you live in any other state? You should call both of your senators and ask them to cosponsor the bill!
Find your Senator's name here.
How to Make the Calls
Call this toll free number [1-800-590-6313], which will redirect you to the Capitol Switchboard for free. Ask for your senator by name. (Check the list above to see which of your senators already support the bill.)
Once you are directed to the office, identify yourself as a constituent, and ask to speak to the legislative assistant who deals with foreign or military policy issues.
Follow the script below (if you like).
After you call one senator's office, call the switchboard again and ask for your other senator – unless your other senator is already a cosponsor.
Note: if the receptionist tells you that the person is not available, you can either give the below information to the receptionist, or ask for the legislative aide’s answering machine and leave your message there.
Script for your Call
Please feel free to improvise and add additional information.
My name is [NAME], and I live in [CITY, STATE]. Thanks for taking my call.
I am calling to encourage Senator [SENATOR’S NAME] to cosponsor S. 416, the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act.
Senator [NAME]’s co-sponsorship of this bill will help align U.S. policy with that of our closest NATO allies and ensure that we no longer use weapons that are known to have a record of killing more civilians than soldiers.
Will co-sponsorship of this bill be possible? (Give or leave your phone number if you would like a call back.)
What are cluster bombs and what’s wrong with them?
Cluster bombs open in mid-air and spew hundreds of small bomblets about the size of a D-cell battery or a soda can over a wide area. Each of these sub-munitions is supposed to detonate when it hits the ground, sending out deadly shrapnel. A typical cluster bomb, which contains between dozens and hundreds of bomblets, can kill or injure anyone in an area the size of one or two football fields. These weapons are designed to be used on a battlefield, against concentrations of soldiers or armored vehicles, but are often used in civilian-populated areas instead. In addition, many of the bomblets — between 5 to 25 percent or more — do not explode as intended, becoming de facto landmines for many years to come.
The vast majority of cluster bomb casualties are civilians, many of them children.
How does the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S. 416) help?
This common-sense bill would:
Prevent the U.S. military from using cluster bombs in civilian-populated areas;
Limit U.S. use of cluster bombs to those that have a very low (one percent or lower) dud rate. The dud rate describes what percentage of bomblets fail to explode at use and, therefore, pose a hazard on the ground to civilians after combat ends. Only a tiny portion of the U.S. cluster submunitions arsenal meets this 99 percent reliability requirement.
What is the world doing about cluster bombs?
Over the past two years the global community negotiated a treaty banning use, export, transfer and stockpiling of cluster bombs. In December 2008, 95 countries — including our major NATO allies — signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Oslo, Norway. The U.S. did not participate in this treaty negotiation, and it has not signed the treaty.
In July 2008 the Secretary of Defense released a new cluster bomb policy, a direct result of international and congressional pressure on the issue. While the policy acknowledges the need to eventually eliminate unreliable and indiscriminate cluster bombs from the U.S. arsenal due to humanitarian concerns, it would not do so until 2018. The time to renounce them is now, not in ten years. Britain, the United States’ combat partner in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the third largest user of cluster munitions in the past decade — signed the treaty and renounced further use of cluster bombs in December. We can too. Congress and President Obama can change U.S. policy.
What is President Obama’s stance on cluster bombs?
202-462-0400 ext. 5946