By John Glaser
February 06, 2013

This week it was revealed for the first time that the CIA has a secret airbase in Saudi Arabia from which it has been launching drone strikes for targeted killings in Yemen for at least the past two years. The news media is reporting, and reiterating for emphasis, that they knew about this secret drone base in Saudi Arabia, but did not disclose it because of an “informal arrangement among several news organizations” not to publish it at the request of senior US officials.

In other words, the Obama administration didn’t want them to report it, so the news media meekly obeyed their masters, and didn’t report it.

To hear the news media explain their reasoning almost makes it sound justifiable. Here’s the Associated Press:

The Associated Press in 2011 agreed to withhold the location of a secret U.S.-run drone base located inside Saudi Arabia after U.S. officials contended that revealing the location would make the base a target of extremists, endangering people directly, and would badly endanger counterterror efforts.

And the Washington Post:

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.

But the importance of having a drone base in Saudi Arabia really necessitated some public discussion about it – scrutiny which can only be generated if the press does its job and publishes dangerous government actions. Indeed, the existence of US military bases on Saudi Arabian territory has threatened the security of American lives in the past. As Conor Friedersdorf writes:

Osama bin Laden began his jihad against the United States largely because he was incensed that American troops were stationed in his homeland, Saudi Arabia, proximate to Islamic holy sites. The U.S. troop presence began during the Gulf War, when Americans led a coalition to expel Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. “Bin Laden — like many Muslims — considers the continued presence of these armed infidels in Saudi Arabia the greatest possible desecration of the holy land,” David Plotz explained in a Slate article published on September 14, 2001. “That is why he sponsored bombings of the American military facilities in Saudi Arabia, why he has tried to destabilize the Saudi government, and why the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed on August 7, 1998 — eight years to the day after the first American troops were dispatched to Saudi Arabia.”

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