(Photo credit: US Army/Spc. Hubert Delany III)
A report released last week by the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice details how the US Department of Defense (DoD) has been allowed to covertly deploy troops and wage secret wars over the past two decades in dozens of countries across the globe.
Known as ‘security cooperation authorities,’ they were passed by the US Congress in the years following the 11 September attacks, and are a continuation of the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), a piece of legislation that has been stretched by four successive governments.
According to the report, the AUMF covers “a broad assortment of terrorist groups, the full list of which the executive branch long withheld from Congress and still withholds from the public.”
Following in this tradition, the ‘security cooperation authorities’ being abused by the Pentagon are Section 333 and Section 127e of Title 10 of the United States Code (USC).
Section 333 authorizes the US army to “train and equip foreign forces anywhere in the world,” while Section 127e authorizes the Pentagon to “provide support to foreign forces, paramilitaries, and private individuals who are in turn supporting US counterterrorism operations,” with a spending limit of $100,000,000 per fiscal year.
However, thanks to the vague definition of ‘support’ and ‘training’ in the text of these laws, both Section 333 and Section 127e programs have been abused to target “adversarial” groups under a strained interpretation of constitutional self-defense; they have also allowed the US army to develop and control proxy forces that ﬁght on behalf of – and sometimes alongside – their own.
As a result of this, in dozens of countries, these programs have been used as a springboard for hostilities, with the Pentagon often declining to inform Congress or the US public about their secret operations under the reasoning that the incidents are “too minor to trigger statutory reporting requirements.”
“Researchers and reporters uncovered Section 127e programs not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen,” the report highlights.
Researchers also point out that defense authorities “have given little indication of how [they] interpret Section 333 and 127e.”
Even more concerning, and ignoring the damage caused by these ‘anti-terror’ laws, the US Congress recently expanded the Pentagon’s security cooperation authorities, particularly with Section 1202 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Section 1202 allows the US army to allow “irregular warfare operations” against “rogue states” like Iran or North Korea, or “near-peers,” like Russia and China.
The report comes at a time when the US army and its proxy militias are accused of illegally occupying vast regions of Syria and Yemen, looting oil from the war-torn countries, just over a year after their brutal occupation of Afghanistan ended. Moreover, a former US official on Tuesday revealed that anti-Iran militias are being armed in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), where both the CIA and the Mossad are known to operate.