The Washington Post, New York Times and a Bunch of Other News Organizations Helped Keep a CIA Drone Base Secret
We would all like to know as much as we can about the Obama Administration's top-secret program of assassinating U.S. citizens with drones, so we can figure out how best not to get assassinated. But don't look to the pages of U.S. newspapers like the Washington Post, which cooperated with the Administration to cover-up the location of a key drone base.
In advance of CIA chief nominee John Brennan's big Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow, the New York Times reported today the existence of a CIA drone base in Saudi Arabia, from which was launched the drone strike that killed American radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son in 2011. This prompted the Washington Post to follow up with its own story, which revealed the paper has been co-operating with "several news organizations" and the Obama Administration to keep the base secret for over year:
The Washington Post had refrained from disclosing the 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.
So the dearth of information about the U.S.'s scariest policy has been in part perpetrated by the Post and these other organization. The concern about undermining the hunt for terrorists might be legitimate, if the Obama Administration hadn't determined that even officially acknowledging the extrajudicial drone assassinations of U.S. citizens would "undermine" it. Bottom line: If you have any information about the drone program, it's best to give it to Gawker.
Update: The New York Times also withheld the location of the base for "many months," according to a blog post by the Times' Public Editor.
[Image via AP]