National Security

No One in Congress Knows What We’re Doing in Niger

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

The latest Trump shitfest revolved around his callous and baseless accusation that President Obama never contacted Gold Star families. That claim was prompted by revelations about Trump's bungling of a phone call to a widow whose husband was killed in the African country of Niger.

But what are we doing in Niger?

I can't say what we're doing there and, apparently, neither can some members of Congress whose job it is to know these things.

[Senator Lindsey Graham] is on the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee, tasked with overseeing the Pentagon. And he made the admission when [NBC's Chuck Todd] pressed him on whether Congress needs to vote on an Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) for that mission.

“The military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation,” Graham said. “But I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger.” [...]

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the chamber’s most powerful Democrat, admitted later on the same show that he was just as ignorant as Graham about the number of U.S. troops in Niger. When Todd asked him if he knew previously about the thousand troops there, he said he didn’t.

It's been two years since President Obama asked Congress to pass a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that might prevent our open-ended war from spreading across the globe, but our Republican-controlled Congress balked at the suggestion. They had more important things to do like try to repeal Obamacare for the umpteenth time.

Passing a new AUMF today would almost certainly require a super-majority to prevent Trump from vetoing it and I don't see any reason to think that's going to happen.

This seems like the kind of thing a senator like Rand Paul should be bleating about every day, but Rand, son of Ron, has been golfing with Trump. So has Lindsey Graham, for that matter.

At least Chuck Schumer hasn't been golfing with Trump.

  • Badgerite

    You know, there is only one reason I can think of that they will not let Mrs. Johnson see the body of her dead husband and that is that it was badly mutilated and may bear some signs of torture and she would, of course, want to know if he was captured alive and if so,why? And why he was left behind. This operation had to have been one gigantic screw up. It is why trump was so reluctant to even mention it let alone contact that wife of this particular serviceman. He was defensive for a reason. Giant fuck up, here. Which they and that includes trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, are trying to keep hidden from the public. Lying a lot and attacking the next of kin and their friend and Congressional Representative will not cut it.
    Would Kelly accept this from his peope? Well, Kelly is our people. He works for us. And we want answers for the family and for the future service people in harms way. And that is Congresses job and if they are not doing it maybe they should give their pay back to us. Unless they don’t actually view themselves as working for us anymore. Surprise me.

  • muselet

    But what are we doing in Niger?

    Honestly, I’d be okay without knowing that as long as the congressional committees responsible for oversight were aware and doing their job. Since they aren’t—

    “The military determines who the threats are, they come up with the engagement policy and if we don’t like what the military does, we can defund the operation,” Graham said. “But I didn’t know there was a thousand troops in Niger.” […]

    —I’m very much not okay without knowing, and I hope some enterprising reporters get on this story soon, before the next disaster catches our attention.

    I also earnestly hope Lindsey Graham’s dog bites him.

    –alopecia

  • Ellen Kuhlmann

    I saw that. Both said they expect to be briefly shortly. But IMO briefings should come before we end up with a 1000 troops in a country, not after.

  • Draxiar

    Does anyone out there expect the Republicans to pursue the truth on this?

    Anyone at all?

    Bueller, Bueller?

  • Dread_Pirate_Mathius

    The latest Trump shitfest revolved around his callous and baseless accusation that President Obama never contacted Gold Star families.

    https://i.imgur.com/lWPjUFi.mp4