Gaetz Alleges 'Massive Cover-Up' by US Over Niger

GOP lawmaker's report says US soldiers aren't getting meds, mail amid confusing situation abroad
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 19, 2024 4:46 PM CDT
Gaetz: US Is Covering Up Niger Conditions, Stranded Troops
Supporters of Niger's ruling junta gather for a protest in Niamey, Niger, on Aug. 3.   (AP Photo/Sam Mednick, File)

US troops in Niger have told GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz that they're "functionally stranded" in the landlocked West African nation, and a new report by the congressman accuses the Biden administration—specifically the State Department—of engaging in a "massive cover-up," per the Intercept. The hubbub stems from an announcement in March from a rep for Niger's now-ruling junta, slamming the United States and voiding Niger's agreement with the US that allows American troops to operate there as part of a counterterrorism partnership.

Pentagon officials last month said they hadn't received an official request from Niger for US troops to vacate and noted there were "mixed signals," the AP reported at the time. But Gaetz said he's heard that troops at Air Base 201 in Agadez aren't allowed to conduct missions and can't return home after their deployments end, among other issues. Flights in and out of Niger to support US soldiers are also said to be on hold. Gaetz tells the Intercept that the US government is "hiding the true conditions on the ground" and is "effectively abandoning our troops in that country," with no help on the horizon.

Meanwhile, a whistleblower described by the Washington Post as a "senior US Air Force leader" has filed a complaint with Congress that alleges top officials at the US Embassy in Niger's capital of Niamey "intentionally suppressed intelligence" on what's going on. The Pentagon, for its part, says it's still seeking clarification on what the deal is for US troops in Niger and, along with the State Department, denies claims of negligence. Gaetz isn't buying it. "We have Army soldiers right now in Niger who aren't getting their troop rotations, who aren't getting their medicine, who aren't getting their supplies, who aren't getting their mail," Gaetz said in a Tuesday hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, per the Post. "And the two senior people in the United States Army are sitting before me and it's like 'Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.'" (More Niger stories.)

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