A secret unmanned drone base operated by the CIA in Saudi Arabia for the last two years has gone unreported, despite mainstream media having known of its existence.
The base has been used to strike members of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is located in Yemen. Its most famous target is Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in September 2011.
The killing of the U.S.-born al-Awlaki drew harsh criticism from many at the time, who claimed it violated his right as an American citizen to be fairly tried and convicted before being punished. Former Texas congressman Ron Paul called for the impeachment of U.S. President Barack Obama because of it.
The revelation of the drone base came shortly after the leaking of a US justice department memo detailing the Obama administration’s case for killing Americans abroad who are accused of being a “senior, operational leader” of al-Qaeda or its allies.
The memo was written shortly before al-Awlaki was killed, and makes the argument for striking the terrorist group’s second-in-command.
U.S. media have known of the drone base’s existence since then but have not reported it, reports the BBC.
According to the New York Times, President Obama ordered the base to be built after a December 2009 cruise missile strike on targets in Yemen ended in disaster, killing many civilians.
The Washington Post reported that President Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, played a key role in negotiations with the government in Riyadh over building the drone base.
President Obama has nominated Brennan to head the CIA.