October 19, 2017

Let's get back to the real issue: What happened to those troops in Niger, and why isn't the administration talking about it? Just like in Benghazi, terrible things happen. Trump's refusal to address it may indicate something else -- or it may simply represent his inability to accept responsibility for anything that isn't a victory.

Morning Joe devoted an entire segment to talking about it.

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: While the president's reaction to the loss of four American troops comes under scrutiny, there is also the critical question of what went so wrong during that military mission in Niger two weeks ago. The Pentagon has now sent a team of specialists to the African nation as a part of this inquiry, they want to know if the U.S. forces had adequate, protective equipment, and were they prepared for th attack. Was there enough intelligence ahead of the mission? And what was the response to the ambush? One official says the amount of confusion during and after the mission was, quote, 'Tremendous'. The body of the fourth American soldier wasn't found until nearly two days after the ambush. and to add, it's unclear who flew the medevac helicopter after the U.S. attack. The U.S. military first said it was the French military, then the U.S. military, now it may have been a U.S. contractor, now the chairman of the Senate Armed Services in the John McCain is demanding answers, telling reporters the administration has not been upfront about what happened. Carol Lee, what are you hearing about this?

CAROL LEE: Well, Mika, there are so many questions about what happened here and it's all getting covered, blurred by this fight the president has decided he wanted to pick with the families of these victims and I think what you're gonna see here if you look at just John McCain, if you remember when there was the raid in Yemen and there were questions raised about that, the White House really pushed back on Senator McCain and basically said it was unpatriotic for anyone to question this raid and what happened. I don't think you're gonna see that with this, because, one, it's become so front and center. Two, I think there are lessons learned from the way the White House and Yemen went. There will be questions from the Hill, families have questions, there's plenty of reporting that has questions. This will be something the White House is going to have to answer for.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Which, of course, Clint, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out. that's one of the reasons the president didn't talk about this, it appears it was similar to the Yemen raid. A lot of questions on why were they there, were they equipped, what happened that night and should it have been avoided? What can you tell us about this raid?

CLINT WATTS: What's interesting about it, we've seen an aggressive stance on our counter terrorism and they were right on the fringe between Niger and Malia, the fringe of our counter terrorism fight. I've worked on this area a little bit and you know we were worried decades ago, it's a remote area, it's hard to support. You talk about medevac and recovery and remember if there was an attack in Benghazi we've been talking about for years. This is not dissimilar.

Watts said the troops were probably there to train indigenous forces to work counter terrorism units, but said there were very few resources that far out.

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