Follow us on social

Rand Paul: Why do we still have troops in Niger?

Rand Paul: Why do we still have troops in Niger?

The Kentucky senator also demands to know how many countries the US military is operating in, under what authority, and why.

Reporting | QiOSK

There are 1,016 U.S. troops still in Niger — a virtual powderkeg of political and military unrest since an armed junta overthrew its president and locked him and his family in the basement of the government palace in late July.

As a result, regional governments under the banner of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) is threatening to intervene militarily until the still-imprisoned leader is restored to office. The coup leaders have responded by rallying the people to their cause, as well as other armed juntas in the region.

One of the Niger junta leaders, by the way, Brig. Gen. Moussa Salaou Barmou, trained with U.S. military forces at Fort Benning, Georgia and the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

In fact, the U.S. military has been in Niger and training Nigeriens since 2013 when Washington signed a status of forces agreement with Niger to conduct “non-combat” operations in the country. Since then the U.S. has built a strategic drone base there from which to conduct its counterterrorism operations in that part of the world.

What are U.S. troops actually doing there now besides training future coup leaders? Under what authority does the administration and the Pentagon continue to rotate American servicemembers in and out? Is it the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, designed to fight al Qaeda and “associated forces,” or the secretive authorities that are far more off the books and do not require as much Congressional review?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., asks this question and several more in a letter sent to Secretary of Defense Loyd Austin yesterday. Like:

How many countries is the U.S. military operating in under the 2001 AUMF? How many are operating under Sections 333 and 127e of the U.S Code, and who specifically is receiving aid and training in those countries? How much money went to Niger?

Aside from the tragic deaths of four American soldiers in October 2017 in an ambush, how many service members have come under fire in Niger since 2013? Under what authorities are being used to keep a U.S. military footprint there now?

Maybe Paul will have more luck than investigative journalist Nick Turse, who has been thwarted at all attempts to get a record of the military’s African trainees, particularly those associated with the region’s many coups in the last decade since Washington has been pouring military assistance into the region. He had to file a Freedom of Information request to find out how many 127e operations the U.S. had across the globe — it turns out, 23 from 2017 to 2020. Just the tip of the iceberg, no doubt.

Last year, the Brennan Center issued a report on the Section 127e and 333 authorities, stating plainly that there is no transparency and Congress knows very little about where the money and personnel are actually going:

The Department of Defense provides congressionally mandated disclosures and updates to only a small number of legislative offices. Sometimes, it altogether fails to comply with reporting requirements, leaving members of Congress uninformed about when, where, and against whom the military uses force. After U.S. forces took casualties in Niger in 2017, for example, lawmakers were taken aback by the very presence of U.S. forces in the country.

Paul says this is unacceptable. Let’s see if a U.S. Senator on the Foreign Relations Commitment can get a little more light on the situation.

“As citizens of a Constitutional republic,” said Paul in his letter, “Americans must be informed of hostilities involving the Armed Forces so that the people can participate in national debates over war and peace. “

Rand Paul (Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons) and General Abdourahmane Tiani, who was declared as the new head of state of Niger by leaders of a coup,July 28, 2023. (REUTERS/Balima Boureima)
Reporting | QiOSK
The Ukraine War at two years: By the numbers


KYIV, UKRAINE - July 12, 2023: Destroyed and burned Russian military tanks and parts of equipment are exhibited at the Mykhailivska square in Kyiv city centre. (Oleksandr Popenko/Shutterstock)

The Ukraine War at two years: By the numbers

Europe

Two years ago on Feb. 24, 2022, the world watched as Russian tanks rolled into the outskirts of Kyiv and missiles struck the capital city.

Contrary to initial predictions, Kyiv never fell, but the country today remains embroiled in conflict. The front line holds in the southeastern region of the country, with contested areas largely focused on the Russian-speaking Donbas and port cities around the Black Sea.

keep readingShow less
Navalny's death shouldn't close off talks with Putin

A woman lays flowers at the monument to the victims of political repressions following the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Moscow, Russia February 16, 2024. REUTERS/Stringer

Navalny's death shouldn't close off talks with Putin

Analysis

President Biden was entirely correct in the first part of his judgment on the death of Alexei Navalny: “Putin is responsible, whether he ordered it, or he is responsible for the circumstances he put that man in.” Even if Navalny eventually died of “natural causes,” his previous poisoning, and the circumstances of his imprisonment, must obviously be considered as critical factors in his death.

For his tremendous courage in returning to Russia after his medical treatment in the West — knowing well the dangers that he faced — the memory of Navalny should be held in great honor. He joins the immense list of Russians who have died for their beliefs at the hands of the state. Public expressions of anger and disgust at the manner of his death are justified and correct.

keep readingShow less
Big US investors prop up the nuclear weapons industry

ProStockStudio via shutterstock.com

Big US investors prop up the nuclear weapons industry

Military Industrial Complex

Nuclear weapons aren’t just a threat to human survival, they’re a multi-billion-dollar business supported by some of the biggest institutional investors in the U.S. according to new data released today by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and PAX, the largest peace organization in the Netherlands.

For the third year in a row, globally, the number of investors in nuclear weapons producers has fallen but the overall amount invested in these companies has increased, largely thanks to some of the biggest investment banks and funds in the U.S.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest