According to former congressman and presidential candidate, Dr. Ron Paul, and journalists at The Intercept, “the Pentagon repeatedly misled Congress about the extent and the cost of the US presence in Niger.” Paul writes at the Ron Paul Institute:
The July military coup in the west African country of Niger has once again brought attention to the fact that the US government runs a global military empire that serves Washington’s special interests, and not the national interest.
Before the coup made news headlines, most Americans – including many serving in Congress – had no idea the US government maintains more than 1,000 troops stationed on several US bases in Niger. But it’s even worse than that. A recent report in The Intercept suggests the Pentagon repeatedly misled Congress about the extent and the cost of the US presence in Niger.
According to The Intercept, “in testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in March, the chief of US Africa Command described Air Base 201 (in Niger) as ‘minimal’ and ‘low cost.’” In fact the US government has spent a quarter of a billion dollars on the base since construction began in 2016.
So when did Congress declare war so as to legalize US military operations in Niger? They didn’t. But as Kelley Vlahos writes in Responsible Statecraft, US troops have been “training” the military in Niger since 2013 and the US government has constructed a number of military bases to “fight terrorism” in the country and region.
Does that mean that the Pentagon is operating in Niger under the 2001 authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) meant to track down those who attacked the US on 9/11? It’s a good question and thankfully one being asked by Sen. Rand Paul in a recent letter sent to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.
Senator Paul first pointed out in the letter, “the Administration’s limitless interpretation of the 9/11 AUMF and frequent use of Title 10 authorities results in military operations abroad conducted with little Congressional oversight and even less public scrutiny.” Such actions “undermine our Constitution,” he writes as he asks, “in how many countries are US forces conducting operations authorized by the 2001 AUMF.”
Read more here.
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