Secret US Assassination Drone Base in Saudi Arabia

US President Obama’s plan to install his counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, as director of the CIA has opened the administration to new scrutiny over the targeted-killing policies it has fought to keep hidden from the public, as well as the existence of a previously secret drone base in Saudi Arabia.

According to the Washington Post US daily, “The secrecy surrounding that policy was punctured Monday with the disclosure of a Justice Department “white paper” that spells out the administration’s case for killing Americans accused of being al-Qaeda operatives.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a member of the intelligence committee, said Brennan’s level of influence and the timing of his nomination have given lawmakers leverage that they lacked in previous efforts to seek details from the White House.

The Obama administration’s targeted-killing program has relied on a growing constellation of drone bases operated by the CIA and the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command.

The report further mentioned that, a 2011 attack that killed al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki, was carried out in part by CIA drones flown from a secret base in Saudi Arabia.

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.”

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 location at the request of the US administration.

The white paper, which was first reported by NBC News, concludes that the United States can lawfully kill one of its own citizens overseas if it determines that the person is a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or one of its affiliates and poses an imminent threat.

Meanwhile, civil liberties groups in the US have described the white paper as an “example of the kind of unchecked executive power Obama campaigned against during his first presidential run,” the daily reports.

“The parallels to the Bush administration torture memos are chilling,” said Executive Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights Vincent Warren, as quoted in the report, accusing Obama of hypocrisy for ordering the release of George Bush administration memos while retaining secrecy around his own.

To deliver on his promises of transparency, Warren emphasized, Obama “must release his own legal memos and not just a Cliffs Notes version.”

The US assassination drone campaign has so far murdered thousands of civilians and some militants in hundreds of strikes in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia.

Source: presstv