Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 10, 2016

A Mix-Up Over U.S. Military Aid to Nigeria to Hunt Boko Haram

Royce speaks during the news conference on Vietnam Human Rights Advocacy Day outside of the Capitol on March 27, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Royce speaks during the news conference on Vietnam Human Rights Advocacy Day outside of the Capitol on March 27, 2014. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

When House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce recently suggested waiving a human rights law to provide more military aid to Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram, he quoted a Defense Department official as being critical of its requirements.

But last week, a Pentagon spokesman, in response to a request from CQ Roll Call, said the official wasn’t criticizing the law at all — in fact, she was criticizing the human rights abuses that made it more difficult to find Nigerian military units fit for U.S. assistance.

The California Republican is standing by his desire to waive the law, however, with a spokesman citing criticism of the law by Defense Department officials broadly.

The law in question is known colloquially as the Leahy Law, after its author, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt. It prevents U.S. aid to military units that are implicated in gross human rights abuses, like rape or torture. It has been in the spotlight more than usual since Boko Haram’s kidnapping of approximately 300 schoolgirls.

Speaking at a May 21 hearing of his committee, Royce said “the Leahy amendment is what prohibits our active cooperation in the steps that I’ve just enumerated here, you know, in the tracking on the ground and being able to plan that attack on the ground.”

Referencing remarks by Alice Friend, at the time the Pentagon’s principal director for Africa, Royce added, “I mean, we had the testimony by the Defense Department last week in the Senate that this vetting is ‘a persistent and very troubling limitation on our ability to provide assistance’ – they’re talking about the Leahy provision here – ‘particularly training assistance that the Nigerians so badly need,’ unquote. So this is a problem.”

Thus, he said, the Obama administration should use its power to wave the law in an emergency.

A Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Myles B. Caggins III, said Friend was not calling the law itself the limitation on assistance, though.

“Ms. Friend was referring to the human rights record of Nigeria’s security forces, which has been a challenge to providing assistance, as she referenced earlier in her testimony,” Caggins said.

A spokesman for the Foreign Affairs Committee said the clarification didn’t change Royce’s view.

“The Committee has consistently heard from Defense Department officials that certain aspects of the law and its implementation hinder our security engagements in Africa, including Nigeria and Boko Haram,” the spokesman said in an e-mailed statement. “The Chairman’s focus is pushing the Administration to utilize the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ waiver for DOD assistance to help rescue these kidnapped schoolgirls. Boko Haram will continue its brutality on the communities in northern Nigeria if they aren’t faced with a legitimate challenge – and it’s clear that Nigerian’s security forces alone aren’t up for the job.”

The statement did not name the Defense officials. At the May 21 hearing, another Pentagon official, Amanda Dory — deputy assistant secretary of defense for African affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense — deferred to a State Department colleague when asked by Royce about the Leahy Law’s waiver provision. Both officials, as well as Friend, testified that the United States still had been able to find Nigerian military units to work with that were vetted via the Leahy Law.

A replacement for Friend as the Pentagon’s Africa director has not yet been announced, Caggins said. Friend departed the post May 30.

Comments (15)

  1. Anonymous

    July 7, 2015
    10:38 a.m.

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no back up. Do you have any solutions to protect against hackers?

  2. Anonymous

    July 9, 2015
    5:38 a.m.

    There is noticeably a bundle to know about this. I assume you made certain nice points in features also.

  3. Anonymous

    July 12, 2015
    1:18 p.m.

    so much good information on here, : D.

  4. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    3:10 a.m.

    I do not even know the way I finished up here, but I believed this publish used to be great. I do not realize who you’re but definitely you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!

  5. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    7:47 a.m.

    Very well written post. It will be beneficial to everyone who usess it, including me. Keep doing what you are doing – i will definitely read more posts.

  6. Google

    July 21, 2015
    9:38 a.m.

    One of our visitors a short while ago advised the following website.

  7. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    12:15 a.m.

    It’s really a great and helpful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Anonymous

    July 28, 2015
    7:39 a.m.

    Pretty! This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

  9. Anonymous

    July 30, 2015
    5:25 p.m.

    Thank you for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do a little research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such magnificent info being shared freely out there.

  10. Anonymous

    July 31, 2015
    12:08 p.m.

    Thankyou for helping out, superb info .

  11. Anonymous

    Aug. 2, 2015
    5:37 p.m.

    Usually I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very forced me to try and do so! Your writing style has been surprised me. Thanks, very nice article.

  12. Anonymous

    Aug. 6, 2015
    10:17 a.m.

    hello there and thanks on your information – I have certainly picked up something new from proper here. I did on the other hand expertise several technical issues the usage of this web site, since I skilled to reload the web site a lot of occasions previous to I could get it to load correctly. I had been pondering in case your web host is OK? Now not that I’m complaining, however sluggish loading cases times will often have an effect on your placement in google and could damage your quality ranking if advertising and ***********|advertising|advertising|advertising and *********** with Adwords. Anyway I’m adding this RSS to my email and can look out for much more of your respective exciting content. Ensure that you update this once more soon..

  13. Anonymous

    Aug. 7, 2015
    9:08 a.m.

    I am really enjoying the theme/design of your web site. Do you ever run into any internet browser compatibility issues? A small number of my blog visitors have complained about my blog not working correctly in Explorer but looks great in Chrome. Do you have any ideas to help fix this problem?

  14. Anonymous

    Aug. 12, 2015
    4:29 p.m.

    I savor, cause I found exactly what I used to be looking for. You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

  15. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    6:21 a.m.

    K82jnu Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely feel this site needs a lot more attention. I all probably be back again to read more, thanks for the information!

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...