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Oct 19 2017

What Happened in Niger?

There are a lot of questions that are not being asked about the deaths of four US Army Special Forces soldiers?

“This might wind up to be Mr. Trump’s Benghazi.”

Those are the words of Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, a Florida Democrat who was present during a controversial phone call between President Donald Trump and the widow of one of the four U.S. special forces soldiers killed in Niger on October 4.

The soldiers died in an ambush near the Niger-Mali border believed to be perpetrated by an ISIS-linked group. The president’s reaction to the deaths is being widely criticized as questions remain about U.S. involvement in Niger and Africa more generally.

Republican Senator John McCain, widely regarded as the top authority on military matters in the Senate, said Wednesday the Trump administration is not being upfront about what happened in Niger.

This is somewhat reminiscent of rhetoric surrounding what happened in Benghazi under the Obama administration.

Indeed, some are suggesting there’s more to the Niger story. And Congresswoman Wilson isn’t the only one who’s begun to draw parallels between this situation and Benghazi.

Neera Tanden, president of the left-leaning Center for American Progress, tweeted hyperbolically on Wednesday: “We had about 4000 Benghazi hearings. Why isn’t there a single one on the deaths of soldiers in Niger?”

Joy Reid, national correspondent for MSNBC, echoed these sentiments: “Where are all the Benghazi obsessives now that we have lost four special forces troops in Niger? Anyone? Hearings? Any interest at all?” [..]

The soldiers killed in Niger were part of a 12-man team of Green Berets, training Nigerian soldiers in a remote part of the country. These soldiers belonged to the Third Special Forces group based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

As they were leaving a meeting with local community leaders on October 4, they were ambushed by roughly 50 fighters believed to be linked to ISIS (Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, is also active in the surrounding region).

The soldiers were driving unarmored pickup trucks and immediately returned fire. The firefight reportedly lasted roughly 30 minutes. It was eventually broken up via French air support and the soldiers were evacuated with helicopters.

Initially, the government only confirmed three had been killed and two wounded in the incident, along with two. But it was eventually reported a fourth soldier had gone missing during the ambush. His remains were found by Nigerien forces roughly 48 hours after the ambush.

The Department of Defense at first withheld information about the missing soldier. The circumstances of how he was separated and the nature of his death are unknown.

Many questions about what occurred remain, especially regarding why intelligence apparently didn’t indicate the soldiers would meet such heavy resistance.

When the Donald Trump was asked about the incident, he didn’t answer the reporter’s question. Instead he disrespected the families, insulting the memories of fallen service members, and questioned the sacred duty of how past presidents handled line of duty deaths. That was the first time in 12 days that Trump has said anything about Niger. Instead he used a diversion to not answer the question taking the media down another path. MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asked what is Trump hiding? Why the distraction?

Something happened in Niger and Trump doesn’t want to talk about it. The American people and the families of these fallen soldiers need to know the answer about what happened in Niger. Could this be Trump’s Benghazi?