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Carper, Coons, Blunt Rochester demand answers on possible targeting of US servicemembers in Afghanistan

Delaware News Desk
Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times

Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, all D-Delaware, released a statement July 1 regarding recent reports that the deaths of three Marine reservists, including Delaware native Staff Sgt. Christopher A. Slutman, who were killed by a roadside bomb near Bagram Air Base last April, are being examined by the U.S. intelligence community.

These latest developments follow reports that a Russian intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for targeting American troops in Afghanistan.

“Last April, our delegation stood in formation as the remains of three fallen Marines were returned to Dover Air Force Base in a solemn procession,” said the lawmakers. “One of those Marines was Staff Sergeant Christopher A. Slutman, a decorated New York City firefighter, husband and father who called Delaware home. Given recent reports that SSgt. Slutman and other U.S. service members may have been targeted by Russian-backed militants, we are calling on the Trump administration to release information about whether their deaths were linked to Russia’s ‘bounties’ and when U.S. intelligence learned of this threat. We are also deeply concerned by reports that the administration was aware of this threat as far back as February 2019. For SSgt. Slutman, for his fellow fallen Marines, for their families and for any service members who have potentially been put in harm’s way, Congress and the American people need the truth, and we need it immediately.”

“It is imperative that all members of Congress — not just a selective group — receive a classified briefing on this matter,” said the lawmakers. “This briefing should be conducted by members of the intelligence community who can provide a clear and consistent timeline and speak with authority on what was known about Russia’s efforts to target U.S. service members, who was briefed on that intelligence, and when those briefings took place. Congress must also be informed about what response, if any, was considered to hold our adversaries accountable. And, finally, Congress needs to hear what is currently being done — and what we need to be doing going forward — to keep our men and women in uniform safe.”

“We are pleased that there have been bipartisan calls for this administration to provide much-needed answers to Congress,” said the lawmakers. “Today, more than a year after U.S. intelligence officials reportedly learned of this threat, the truth is long overdue. Today, there are men and women around the globe putting their lives on the line in defense of this nation and too many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We owe it to them and their loved ones not to waste another day.”