Secret Saudi Drone Base No Longer Secret

Revelation comes just ahead of John Brennan's confirmation hearing

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 6, 2013 7:33 AM CST | Updated Feb 6, 2013 7:47 AM CST

(Newser) – And the drone-strike revelations keep coming. A number of US media outlets last night broke their silence about the location of a secret drone base used by the CIA to attack al-Qaeda in Yemen: Saudi Arabia. And CIA director-nominee John Brennan's name is all over the reports, just ahead of confirmation hearings tomorrow. As the New York Times explains, the counterterror adviser was integral in obtaining the greenlight to establish the base. The base's maiden strike took out Anwar al-Awlaki in 2011, and it's been since used to target militants on the CIA's kill list. And while the Pentagon must get an OK from the Yemeni government before launching a drone strike, the CIA needs no such permission. And here, again, appears Brennan's name: He "plays a role in overseeing all the strikes," explains the Times, which catalogs five such strikes that have killed at least 24 in 2013.

The reports will likely put Brennan "on the defensive" during his hearings, and will open the door for lawmakers to try to wrest details from the administration about the program, report Greg Miller and Karen DeYoung for the Washington Post. Brennan's nomination "has drawn the White House into a fight it had sought to avoid," they write. As Sen. Ron Wyden puts it: "[Brennan] is the architect of [the administration’s] counterterrorism policy. If the Congress doesn’t get answers to these questions now, it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get them in the future."

In this Jan. 31, 2010 file photo, an unmanned US Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
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