U.S. Special Forces Expand Training to Allies With Histories of Abuse
(The Intercept, 9 septembre 2015)
Since 9/11, Special Ops forces have expanded in almost every conceivable way — from budget to personnel to overseas missions. Many were conducted with security forces implicated in human rights violations.
While the U.S. military is barred by law from providing aid to foreign security forces that violate human rights, JCETs [Joint Combined Exchange Training] have been repeatedly conducted in Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Chad and many other nations regularly cited for abuses by the Department of State. Under the so-called “Leahy Law,” a vetting process is meant to weed out foreign troops or units implicated in “gross human rights violations” — including extrajudicial killing, forced disappearances, and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. But the State Department office responsible for the vetting process receives only a tiny fraction of funding compared to the projects it oversees, and a spokesperson noted that “State does not track cases in a way that is easily quantifiable.” SOCOM, for its part, was evasive about whether the military command was aware of individuals or units disqualified by Leahy vetting. “If you have questions about who has been barred, I recommend you contact the State Department,” SOCOM’s McGraw wrote in an email.
Reports on the training of Special Operations forces, submitted to Congress and obtained through the Freedom of Information Act from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, show that the U.S.’s most elite troops trained in 77 foreign nations alongside nearly 25,000 foreign troops under the JCET program in just 2012 and 2013. Both the number of planned missions and foreign nations involved in JCETs are forecast to rise next year, according to a separate set of documents publicly available from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller).