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Buck Sexton: No, the Niger ambush is not 'Trump's Benghazi'

Buck Sexton: No, the Niger ambush is not 'Trump's Benghazi'
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The ambush of U.S. Special Forces in Niger on October 4th was a tragedy. America lost four of our heroic Green Berets, who were in country to assist the indigenous military forces of Niger to combat several Salafi-Jihadi terrorist groups. U.S. military efforts to draw lessons learned from these battlefield losses are essential to avoid future casualties, and there are important questions that still need answers to that end.

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But some of the recent commentary on the Niger incident from the press, and several members of Congress, has been completely counterproductive. In fact, it has become clear that much of the left and the media’s focus on the Niger ambush is intended to create a political liability for the Trump administration. Congresswoman Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonLobbying world Harris calls it 'outrageous' Trump downplayed coronavirus House passes bill establishing commission to study racial disparities affecting Black men, boys MORE (D-Fla.) made this attempt explicit, when she shared on Twitter that “Niger is Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE’s Benghazi.”

This is absurd. While Congresswoman Wilson wildly and cynically overstates the similarities between the Niger and Benghazi attacks, she is not the only one who is playing politics with the more recent incident. Some senators have embraced a combination of oversight sanctimony and implausible ignorance about U.S. military presence in Niger. Senator Charles SchumerChuck SchumerReestablishing American prosperity by investing in the 'Badger Belt' House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Graham dismisses criticism from Fox Business's Lou Dobbs MORE (D-N.Y.), of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP faces fundraising reckoning as Democrats rake in cash The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Election night could be a bit messy The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump, Biden blitz battleground states MORE (R-S.C.), of the Armed Services Committee, both claimed this past weekend they didn’t know there were U.S. military operations ongoing in Niger.

These claims appear specious. The U.S. deployment to Niger has been reported in the press for years. Even more to the point, the White House officially notified the Senate in writing about the Niger mission in June. For two senators who are specifically supposed to be aware of U.S. military operations to pretend they had no idea what why U.S. Special Forces were active in the area of Tongo Tongo is an admission of their own failure to pay attention.

Given the possible political damage to the Trump administration, it is unsurprising that the media has been running with all kinds of theories and thinly sourced reports that frame the Niger assault as a debacle for this White House. Some outlets have suggested it was a “massive intelligence failure,” without supporting the claim beyond anonymous sources.

Others have discovered a newfound fascination with every tactical detail of military operations, down to the body armor and munitions carried by special operations soldiers. There is a line between searching for the facts, and using endless and pointed questions to imply incompetence or a conspiracy at the highest levels of government. Many media organizations have crossed into the latter realm. There are clear attempts at creating a “Trump’s Benghazi” narrative at work here.

The uncomfortable reality is that counterterrorism is a dangerous endeavor, and a growing one. The United States military has Special Operations deployments engaged in advise and assist missions in countries spread from Colombia to the Philippines. Niger is one of those countries, and it currently has a handful of determined, vicious Jihadist insurgencies operating on its soil, including affiliates of Al Qaeda and ISIS. In such an environment, even the most skilled U.S. operators in the world take risks every time they go outside the wire.

The American people should generally be more aware of the deployments — and casualties — that our men and women in uniform endure as part of the global war against radical Islamic terrorism. This includes countries like Niger that while not quite war zones, are conflict areas with the constant possibility of violence against U.S. personnel. This most recent lethal incident in an otherwise forgotten and desperately poor part of the world may bring about an important national conversation on the extent and duration of our war against radical Islamic terrorism.

For now, our focus should be on understanding the threats our war fighters face on a daily basis and supporting them in their battles against terrorism. Despite the fall of Raqqa and the crumbling of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, we are still at war with Jihadism around the globe. All the petty blame-shifting of politicians inside the beltway and the left-wing media partisans is just a dishonorable distraction from that effort.

Political gamesmanship over the Niger ambush must stop.

Buck Sexton is a political commentator, national security analyst and host of the nationally syndicated radio program, “Buck Sexton with America Now.” He is a former CIA officer in the Counterterrorism Center, appears frequently on Fox News Channel and CNN and has been a guest radio show host for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity. Follow Buck on Twitter @BuckSexton.