I received this yesterday, on the 11th, from the Friends Committee on National Legislation and was going to post it around but couldn't get the links to load, they're fine now, So Please Use Them!
A live, U.S-made M77 cluster submunition in a citrus orchard in Southern Lebanon--one of an estimated 4 million dropped in 2006.
President Obama signed a law yesterday, March 11 2009, that will make permanent a ban on nearly all cluster bomb exports from the United States. Congress included the export ban in an omnibus budget bill that passed the Senate last night. This provision will move the U.S. one step closer to the position of the nearly 100 nations--including our closest NATO allies--that signed a treaty banning cluster munitions in December.
The legislation states that cluster munitions can only be exported if they leave behind less than one percent of their submunitions as duds, and if the receiving country agrees that cluster munitions "will not be used where civilians are known to be present." Only a very tiny fraction of the cluster munitions in the U.S. arsenal meet the one percent standard. This export ban was first enacted in a similar budget bill in December 2007, but that law mandated it for only one year.
U.S.-exported cluster bombs were most recently used by Israel in Southern Lebanon, where dud rates were reportedly as high as 40 percent; hundreds of civilians and deminers have been killed or maimed since the fighting ended in 2006.
Now Congress needs to take the next step and ban U.S. use of these deadly weapons. Nearly one in four senators have already cosponsored the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S. 416), introduced one month ago, which would stop the military from using virtually all of the cluster bombs in its vast arsenal by applying this same one percent standard to U.S. use. Do your senators support this bill? If not, urge them to co-sponsor today. If it's unacceptable to export high dud-rate cluster bombs, then it's unacceptable to use them. Growing Senate support for S. 416 will show President Obama that the U.S. public stands with the rest of the world in supporting a ban on cluster bombs.
As 17 year old Soraj Ghulam Habib from Herat, Afghanistan, who lost both legs to a U.S. cluster submunition in 2001 observes, "You'd ban them for sure, if you had them here." Click here to see what a cluster bomb would do to your neighborhood.