On Meet the Press, Armed Services Committee member Senator Lindsey Graham stated that he did not know that there were American soldiers in Niger, and only found out when news of a deadly ambush against a U.S. Special Forces convoy hit the press a few weeks ago. Graham went on to say that he is going to work with Senator McCain to create a “new system” which will better inform politicians about where our troops are and what they are doing there so that they don’t find out about U.S. military casualties on television. Graham’s comments were remarkable in several ways, not the least of which was his incredible lack of self-awareness. The “new system” he proposes is just a callous way for politicians to cover their ass after the fact, a cheat sheet or Google search that they can hit up before they themselves hold a press briefing.
On BBC yesterday, I was asked if I was frustrated that Senators Graham and Schumer said that they had no idea that we had troops in Niger. I replied that it wasn’t just frustrating. It was downright appalling. The mission to Niger was a JCET, or Joint Combined Exercise Training, which is a non-classified operation. These missions are publicized, and the DOD has made multiple press releases on the topic. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Graham was absolutely briefed on the U.S. Special Forces mission to Niger. Now whether he was paying attention during the that brief, or if he was playing Pokemon Go on his iPhone is another question.
It is unconscionable for our elected officials to fall back on a fictional, “we didn’t know” defense when asked about what our soldiers are doing in Niger. Graham and others are shirking their responsibility to our military and to the electorate. To say that they are just playing dumb may be too charitable. The proposed fixes that these politicians come up with are nothing more than mechanisms to protect themselves politically and have nothing to do with keeping our soldiers safe, making them more effective in combat, or taking care of their families after the fact. Our government deploys soldiers overseas, and if it goes sideways, the first thing that occurs in the minds of our politicians is how they can use and abuse the military for political gain while insulating themselves from political risk.
The lack of leadership is downright disgusting. Every claim of not knowing that we had soldiers in Niger is just another self-indictment by Graham and his cohorts. These men are not our best and brightest. They are not brave, they are not selfless, they are not fit to govern this nation.
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