Menendez Demands Answers Following Reports Alleging U.S. Citizens Working as Mercenaries Abroad

Menendez Demands Answers Following Reports Alleging U.S. Citizens Working as Mercenaries Abroad

NEWARK – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asking the Trump Administration to address troubling press reports alleging that American citizens have been working as mercenaries abroad – training Chinese security forces, serving as an officer in the military of the United Arab Emirates, and even carrying out political assassinations in Yemen.

“These reports, if accurate, raise troubling questions about what roles some U.S. citizens are performing in supporting foreign governments in combat, human rights abuses, and political suppression,” wrote Senator Menendez. Citing media reports of Erik Prince and his company’s services to foreign entities, the senator also expressed his concern with the Trump Administration’s lack of responsiveness to the committee’s previous inquiries and requested Secretary Pompeo immediately brief the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on these allegations.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which falls under the jurisdiction of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is a set of regulations for the U.S. Department of State to regulate the import and export of defense-related articles and services on the United States Munitions List (USML). Noting that media reports suggest possible violations of U.S. law, Senator Menendez concluded by listing a series of detailed questions to be answered by Secretary Pompeo, including the status of any U.S. government investigations into the alleged activities.  

 

The text of the letter can be found here and below:

 

The Honorable Mike Pompeo

Secretary of State

U.S. Department of State

2201 C Street, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20520

 

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

There have been numerous press reports over the last eight months of American citizens providing military services of concern to foreign countries.  These include a former U.S. military officer effectively serving as an officer in the Joint Aviation Command of the United Arab Emirates; a former head of the former Blackwater security firm providing military training services to Chinese security services; and, most outrageously, American citizens employed by a Delaware firm being hired by the UAE to engage in political assassinations of political opponents in Yemen.

These reports, if accurate, raise troubling questions about what roles some U.S. citizens are performing in supporting foreign governments in combat, human rights abuses, and political suppression.  They also raise questions about potential violations of U.S. law, and whether the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the FBI, and the Department of Justice are aware of these activities, have formally approved them, or are investigating these individuals for possible violations of U.S. law. 

Despite repeated inquiries and requests for a briefing on these matters by my staff, the Department has yet to comply. As these matters fall within the oversight responsibilities of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and raise deep concerns about the implications of services provided by Americans abroad, I request that you immediately brief the Committee and respond to the following questions in writing:

  1. Does the Department of State have credible information that the United Arab Emirates hired a U.S. firm or American citizens to conduct assassinations, as described in press reports? 
  2. Does the Department of State have credible information that Erik Prince, or any company he is affiliated with, including Frontier Services Group, is providing military, defense, security, or related services, including training, or U.S.-controlled defense articles, to foreign entities, and if so, what are the nature of these services or articles? 
  3. Does Erik Prince or any company he is affiliated with, including Frontier Services Group, have a license pursuant to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to perform such services? 
  4. Has the U.S. citizen who has been working as a military officer for the United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command, or any U.S. citizen providing similar services, received a license pursuant to the ITAR to perform that work? 
  5. Has the Department of State issued any licenses or provided informal approval to Spear Operations Group, or any individuals affiliated with that entity, to carry out any military services in Yemen? If so, what activities are covered?
  6. Under the administration’s interpretation of U.S. law and regulations, does the provision of military or security services to foreign government entities require export licenses?  If so, please provide the relevant legal interpretation, as well as a determination of whether the above-referenced U.S. entities have received, or should have received, licenses to provide these or other military, defense or security and related services to foreign governments.  
  7. What restrictions and requirements apply to former U.S. military personnel in providing military services in foreign countries, whether under contract to or to the benefit of foreign government and quasi-government entities?
  8. Has the Department of State initiated any investigations into the above-referenced alleged activities? If so, what is the status of those investigations, or, if already complete, what were the findings and conclusions of those investigations?  Is the Department of State aware of any other U.S. agency investigating the above-referenced activities?

Please provide the Committee answers to these questions and contact the Committee to arrange a briefing on this matter no later than February 22, 2019. To the extent required, please also provide any necessary classified response. Thank you and I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

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