To the Pentagon, Congress Does Not Exist: Secret Troops in Somalia Since 2007

No wonder Congress thinks of itself as useless. Their assigned job is to shut up and increase the budget.

From Reuters:

U.S. military advisors have secretly operated in Somalia since around 2007 and Washington plans to deepen its security assistance to help the country fend off threats by Islamist militant group al Shabaab, U.S. officials said.

The comments are the first detailed public acknowledgement of a U.S. military presence in Somalia dating back since the U.S. administration of George W. Bush and add to other signs of a deepening U.S. commitment to Somalia’s government, which the Obama administration recognized last year.

The deployments, consisting of up to 120 troops on the ground, go beyond the Pentagon’s January announcement that it had sent a handful of advisors in October. That was seen at the time as the first assignment of U.S. troops to Somalia since 1993 when two U.S. helicopters were shot down and 18 American troops killed in the “Black Hawk Down” disaster.

The plans to further expand U.S. military assistance coincide with increasing efforts by the Somali government and African Union peacekeepers to counter a bloody seven-year insurgent campaign by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab to impose strict Islamic law inside Somalia.

Those U.S. plans include greater military engagement and new funds for training and assistance for the Somali National Army (SNA), after years of working with the African Union Mission in Somalia, or AMISOM, which has about 22,000 troops in the country from Uganda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia.

What you’ll see with this upcoming fiscal year is the beginning of engagement with the SNA proper,” said a U.S. defense official, who declined to be identified. The next fiscal year starts in October.

The billion-dollar question here is, “…kept secret from whom?

Was this a classified operation that Congress secretly approved but was kept secret from the American people? I am sure there are times that must be done though it needs to be done as seldom as possible because it defeats the point of self-government in a democratic Republic. If all the policies of an elected representative are secret from the voters, then how can the voters make an informed decision?

But I don’t think that’s what happened here. As the New American interprets the story:

The Bush and Obama administrations have conspired to send at least 120 U.S. troops to Somalia without the consent of Congress, according to a Reuters wire service report.

[…]

In other words, the new acknowledgment belies the line pushed by the administration back in January of this year, according to the Voice of America, where “The Africa Command first acknowledged the U.S. military presence in Somalia in January. It said at the time that it had recently established a unit of advisors in the country that included fewer than five military personnel.”

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress — and not the president — is given sole power “to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces” in addition to war powers, making the seven-year deployment blatantly unconstitutional. The actions of the Bush and Obama administrations are similar to the disastrous 1992-93 deployment to Somalia where 18 American servicemen were killed, and the bodies of two American Delta Force soldiers were dragged through the streets of the capital city of Mogadishu. More than 1,000 Somalis were also killed in the engagement, and American involvement changed nothing in the domestic political situation. 

So, if the New American story is right, and I think it is, this entire announcement is an open admission of Pentagon criminality.

And what do they expect to happen? They expect Congress to give them more money for an expanded operation! Right. Because we’ve got more money than we know what to do with! (Reader, yes that was sarcasm.)

It is obvious that an embedded group in the Federal Branch of this government believe they are the unitary overlords of the United States—with the Congress’ only legitimate function as a kind of P.R. feedback system. They don’t believe they need permission from the legislative branch to do anything.

Eventually, and probably sooner than you think, they are going to make their view official.