1. Letter
  2. U.S. Wars & Militarism

Trump Should Consult Congress on Military Actions in Niger, Write 48 Members of Congress

By Yasmine Taeb, November 6, 2017


On November 3, 2017, 48 U.S representatives sent a letter to President Trump voicing their concerns about U.S. military operations in Niger. The bipartisan letter, which was co-led by Reps. Barbara Lee (D- CA) and Walter Jones (R-NC), emphasized Congress’s sole authority to declare war by calling on the administration to seek an authorization from Congress for expanded military action in Niger.

Additionally, the members requested more information about U.S. military operations in Niger and specifically asked whether the administration is using 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) as the justification for those actions.

Read the letter to President Trump below:

Dear Mr. President,

We write to urge you to consult with and obtain authorization from Congress for any further combat operations in Niger, including providing information on the nature of the current mission and you administration’s legal justification for sending troops into Niger and the basis for any proposed increase.

According to media reports, approximately 800 U.S. service members are deployed in Niger, one of the larger deployments of U.S. troops in Africa. Furthermore, these current numbers show a significant increase since 2013, when President Obama announced deployment of about 100 personnel. In your most recent War Powers Report on June 6, 2017, you wrote that “U.S. forces in the Lake Chad Basin continue to provide a wide variety of support to African partners conducting counterterrorism operations in the region.” However, given the tragic death of four United States (U.S.) Army Special Operations Forces on October 4th and the ongoing security threats in West Africa’s Sahel lregion, we remain concerned that Congress has been in the dark about the operations our U.S. service members are conducting in Niger and our overall operations in Africa.

We are also gravely concerned that the United States is committing itself to a long-term war in Niger and elsewhere in Africa. There has been no Congressional debate or vote on the long-term consequences of, and alternatives to, military action in Niger. The situation is complex and will require a comprehensive political, economic, and diplomatic solution. That is why we request that your administration fully brief Congress on the ongoing military operations in Niger and our larger operations in Africa, the domestic and international legal justification for that presence, and the rules of engagement for U.S. forces in the region. In the wake of recent events, U.S. service members have used military force, if only for defensive purposes. If the rules of engagement permit use of military force other than in self-defense, we would like to know the basis of that authorization, and whether, in particular, your administration is citing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as the domestic legal justification.

The constitution solely assigns members of Congress the authority to devide whether to authorize the use of military force and to the President as commander-in-chief, the sole authority to guide and manage the services in the conduct of its military actions. Unfortunately, for far too long Congress has been on the sidelines and the 2001 AUMF has been used as a blank check for ever-expanding war. Our brave service members face countless dangers for our Nation, which is clearly evidenced by the attack in Niger. We owe it to them to debate and vote on any further U.S. military action in Niger.

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee (D- CA)

Walter B. Jones (R- NC)

James P. McGovern (D- MA)

Justin Amash (R- MI)

Ro Khanna (D- CA)

Thomas Massie (R- KY)

Eleanor Holmes Norton (D- DC)

John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI)

Alcee L. Hastings (D- FL)

Lloyd Doggett (D- TX)

Mark Pocan (D- WI)

Richard M. Nolan (D- MN)

Jamie Raskin (D- MD)

David N. Cicilline (D- RI)

Peter A. DeFazio (D- OR)

Bobby L. Rush (D- IL)

Frederica S. Wilson (D- FL)

Louise Slaughter (D- NY)

John Garamendi (D- CA)

Darren Soto (D- FL)

Colleen Hanabusa (D- HI)

Zoe Lofgren (D- CA)

Frank Pallone, Jr. (D- NJ)

Sheila Jackson Lee (D- TX)

Dwight Evans (D- PA)

Donald Payne, Jr. (D- NJ)

Raúl Grijalva (D- AZ)

John Yarmuth (D- KY)

Ted Lieu (D- CA)

Keith Ellison (D- MN)

Marcia L. Fudge (D- OH)

Danny K. Davis (D- IL)

José E. Serrano (D- NY)

Michelle Lujan Grisham (D- NM)

Rosa DeLauro (D- CT)

Peter Welch (D- VT)

Karen Bass (D- CA)

Jan Schakowsky (D- IL)

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr. (D- GA)

John Lewis (D- GA)

Yvette D. Clarke (D- NY)

Robin L. Kelly (D- IL)

Emanuel Cleaver, II (D- MO)

Katherine Clark (D- MA)

Pramila Jayapal (D- WA)

Jerry McNerney (D- CA)

Mark DeSaulnier (D- CA)

Adriano Espaillat (D- NY)

The full letter with signatures can be accessed here.

Yasmine Taeb

  • Legislative Representative for Human Rights and Civil Liberties

Yasmine directs FCNL’s work on a number of human rights and civil liberties issues, including lobbying for increased resettlement of Syrian refugees, more transparency and oversight of the U.S. lethal drones program, calling for the closure of Guantanamo, and for the repeal of the 2001 AUMF, among other issues.