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CIA Using Base in Saudi Arabia to Launch Drone Attacks in Yemen

Revelation comes amidst "long-overdue reappraisal of the entire drone war"

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Photo: Steve Rhodes

The New York Times revealed on Tuesday that the CIA has been using a base in Saudi Arabia for over two years to launch drone strikes in Yemen.

It was from this base that a drone was launched that killed Muslim cleric and U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.

The Washington Post adds:

The base was established two years ago to intensify the hunt against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the affiliate in Yemen is known. [CIA director nominee John] Brennan, who previously served as the CIA’s station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with Riyadh over locating an agency drone base inside the kingdom.

The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the specific location at the request of the administration, which cited concern that exposing the facility would undermine operations against an al-Qaeda affiliate regarded as the network’s most potent threat to the United States, as well as potentially damage counterterrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia.

The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.

An Associated Press story on the base says that the news agency had reported on construction of the base in June of 2011 but also did not report on the base's exact location "at the request of senior administration officials."

In a White House press briefing on Tuesday, following the release of a white paper outlining when the U.S. would put its own citizens on its "kill list," Press Secretary Jay Carney said of drone attacks:

These strikes are legal, they are ethical and they are wise.

The Nation's Greg Mitchell writes that the "long-overdue reappraisal of the entire drone war," sparked by the white paper, "promises to get even hotter tomorrow with the start of the congressional confirmation hearings for drone champion (and keeper of the kill list) John Brennan as the new CIA director."

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