The CIA drone strike that killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki originated from a secret base in Saudi Arabia, Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post report.
The Post, at the request of the Obama administration, refrained from disclosing the location of the secret U.S. military base, but later reneged after it learned that another news outlet intended to publish.
Officials established the base two years ago to intensify the hunt against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen as well as suspected terrorist groups in Somalia.
An official told Fox News that operations launched from the Saudi base “are (the) only new expansion to this plan,” describing the process as a “long-term deliberate effort where we used what we could (until) we got the locations we wanted.”
The disclosure officially confirms what anonymous sources told The Times Of London two years ago:
Sources in the Gulf say that the agency is now massed along Yemen’s borders, launching daily missions with unmanned Predator aircraft from bases in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Djibouti and the United Arab Emirates.
The Post notes that 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 base adds to the growing list of known U.S. drone launchpads around the world, which includes Philippines, Qatar, Oman, Afghanistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Djibouti, Seychelles and Ethiopia.
Though analysts long expected the expansion of the program in that region, disclosure that a major American newspaper knew the whole time again raises issues of media coziness with government.
Following the Benghazi scandal, major media outlets kept secret the employment status of two dead SEALs at the request of the Pentagon. The AP even retroactively edited their occupations out of later versions of the story.
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