CIA reportedly using Saudi base for drone assassinations in Yemen, location withheld by media
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
While the use of a base to launch drone strikes in Yemen has been reported in the past, it has been revealed that the exact location of the base was withheld by various news outlets at the request of the Obama administration.
This comes as a Justice Department white paper describing the supposed legal justification for drone strikes was leaked and the Obama administration will reportedly hand over the classified legal memo justifying the drone killing program to the House and Senate intelligence committees, the same memo recently kept secret by a federal judge.
One must also keep in mind that a new drone base is reportedly slated to open in Niger to facilitate drone attacks in Africa.
The Washington Post reported that they did not reveal the specific location of the drone base used to conduct drone strikes in Yemen – which continue at a disturbing rate this year – at the request of the Obama administration.
The administration “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,” according to the Post.
According to the New York Times, the CIA’s drones have very little oversight, which is hardly surprising since they would reportedly be exempt from the Obama administration’s drone rulebook which has apparently yet to be completed. The Times story also reveals some intimate details of the drone program, focusing particularly on John Brennan as the “chief architect” of the program.
Brennan, currently the White House counterterrorism adviser, is slated to face a Senate confirmation hearing as Obama’s nominee for director of the CIA.
The Times also revealed that they withheld the location of the base in Saudi Arabia, although they say it was held back “at the request of the C.I.A., but The Times decided to reveal it now because, according to the managing editor Dean Baquet, it was at the heart of this particular article and because examining Mr. Brennan’s role demanded it.”
Some have been highly critical of the decisions by the Times and the Post.
“The decision not to publish is a shameful one. The national security standard has to be very high, perhaps imminent danger,” said Dr. Jack Lule, a professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University, according to the Guardian.
“The fact that we are even having a conversation about whether it was a national security issue should have sent alarm bells off to the editors,” Lule said.
“I think the real reason was that the administration did not want to embarrass the Saudis – and for the US news media to be complicit in that is craven,” he added.
The desire to avoid embarrassing the Saudis could indeed have been a significant motivation, according to al Jazeera.
“Any operation by US military or intelligence officials inside Saudi Arabia is politically and religiously sensitive,” al Jazeera reports. “AQAP [al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula] and other groups have used the kingdom’s close relationship with the US to recruit new members, and to stir internal dissent against the Saudi government.”
Whatever the motivation, Lule contends that the Post and Times move to withhold the information from the American public shows that the media has become part of the government’s maintenance of the secrecy surrounding the drone program.
“We have two partners’ participation in the secrecy of the drone program: the government and the news media,” said Lule. “If we are looking to open it up to scrutiny, where do we go?”
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