Florida Rep. Alleges Intelligence Coverup Over Stranded US Soldiers in Niger

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) released a report on Thursday alleging that the State Department is withholding information that puts U.S. personnel stationed in Niger at imminent risk.

The report details the congressman’s conversations with several military officials, including a senior United States Department of Defense enlisted member. 

Gaetz said that military personnel were told to change details in their reports so that they would seem less serious than they really were. Apparently, in an effort to avoid any written proof, most of the critical things were addressed over the phone.

Reports indicate that U.S. intelligence assessments are being contradicted or denied by information that the U.S. embassy is either ignoring or concealing from the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) and Special Operation Command Africa (SOCAF).

The Embassy is usually the first stop for our AFRICOM commanders who want to know what’s happening on the ground. But the news they get is generally watered down or wrong compared to the real thing. A further service member said with conviction that the Embassy had dismissed no less than three OSI reports about Nigerien sentiment, which proved entirely accurate.

Furthermore, as stated in Gaetz’s report, base personnel have expressed concerns about the growing need for medical and hygienic supplies. During a meeting with the congressman, an AB101 blood bank staff worker voiced worry about the decreasing availability of malaria treatment and other medications.

The average number of days of medicine left for a person throughout the EABS is around 23. Seven tablets is the lowest amount, and eighty is the largest. Currently, there are 1800 tablets accessible in Role 1 (Medical). Assuming each EABS member receives an equal quantity of pills, this would be sufficient for nine days. As one military member pointed out, it is against the law to share prescription drugs, regardless of brand name.

Gaetz said he contacted several government institutions and embassies to get a feel for the situation and get some answers. Letters were sent to the Intelligence Community, the Department of Defense, and the Department of State. In addition, he inquired about any decrees or orders that the Embassies of Germany and Italy may have received from the Nigeriens about collaboration with U.S. soldiers in-country via written correspondence.

Gaetz said our military is in a precarious position, and the absence of a swift response from senior officials in the US Departments of Defense and State is very troubling. In light of recent developments, Gaetz has voiced his fear that a military junta in power might cause a diplomatic catastrophe reminiscent of the Benghazi scandal of 2012.