Foreign and Defense Policy, Terrorism

Make that #11: ANOTHER ObamaLeak

Image Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Image Credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Today, I posted on the “Top Ten” ObamaLeaks that John Brennan needs to explain in his confirmation hearings. Lo and behold, this morning’s Washington Post contains yet another leak — this one in a story on Brennan’s confirmation hearing! — revealing the existence of a secret U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia. The Post reports:

President Obama’s plan to install his counterterrorism adviser 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….

The Obama administration’s targeted-killing program has relied on a growing constellation of drone bases operated by the CIA and the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command. The only strike intentionally targeting a U.S. citizen, 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 specific location at the request of the administration, which 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.

The Post learned Tuesday night that another news organization was planning to reveal the location of the base, effectively ending an informal arrangement among several news organizations that had been aware of the location for more than a year.

You can’t make this stuff up.

2 thoughts on “Make that #11: ANOTHER ObamaLeak

  1. While some of the items on Mr. Thiessen’s original list (closed to comments) did seem to be items of legitimate concern that seemingly had to originate from within the administration or at least a highly-placed US source, others were either potentially discoverable from other sources or (in one instance) not a scandal at all. While one may question the wisdom of opposing Israeli intentions WRT Iran or revealing Israeli secret basing agreements, it is not against US law to do so – and I have a hard time seeing how the leak would have been a plus for Obama’s re-election.

    When it comes to the existence of “secret” foreign bases, such as the one mentioned above, such things are rather hard to keep secret from the local population once they see drones flying in and out. It was similarly reported that the Benghazi “annex” (read: CIA installation) which caused such consternation when its location was revealed in the Congressional hearings was actually old news to residents of Benghazi who could see the comings and goings. Just as the Obama administration is not legally bound to keep the secrets of foreign governments, foreign nationals living abroad are not subject to any US prohibitions on talking to reporters about what they see. So it’s well within the realm of possibility that at least some of the reports of this nature did not come from a US source.

    Perhaps Mr. Thiessen will call for the waterboarding of the reporters to get them to reveal where they got the story?

    • Regarding the White House “opposing Israeli intentions WRT Iran or revealing Israeli secret basing agreements”, these leaks were a plus for Obama in that they prevented Israel from carrying out planned operations against Iran which would have been embarrassing for him and probably caused him foreign policy problems especially during his campaign.
      RE: The “existence of “secret” foreign bases” its entirely likely the base is a small airstrip out in the middle of the desert and there aren’t any locals to note drone takeoffs/landings.
      As far as the Obama admin not being “legally bound to keep the secrets of foreign governments”, we’re talking about our primary ally in the region and it’s unlikely the Israelis will be willing to share many more secrets with us while Obama is President as he and his minions have proved they cannot be trusted. This is likely to hurt us in that much of the information we receive regarding foreign terrorist operations, potential attacks on the US and the terrorists themselves comes from the Israelis! Given Obama’s propensity for burning valuable agents to gain publicity I don’t think we’ll see many others willing to risk their lives for us, do you? If I was the head of the intelligence service of any of our allies, not just Israel, I wouldn’t be sharing very much, if any, intelligence with Obama and company because they’ve shown, over and over again, they cannot be trusted to keep that intelligence secret and I don’t blame them, again, do you???

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