US Acknowledges Attacks in Yemen and Somalia, But Drones Remain the Word Never Said
As drone strikes and special forces continue to be deployed in Yemen and Somalia under the Obama administration, government acknowledgement of those operations has not been forthcoming. But in a first, the Obama administration has acknowledged that it is conducting attacks in those countries.
The acknowledgement came in an administration report to Congress on the state of U.S. military operations, a report that is mandated by the War Powers Resolution of 1973.
The Associated Press broke the story today:
The White House’s semiannual report to Congress on the state of U.S. combat operations abroad, delivered Friday, mentions what has been widely reported for years but never formally acknowledged by the administration: The U.S. military has been taking “direct action” against members of al-Qaida and affiliates in Yemen and Somalia.
The report does not elaborate, but “direct action” is a military term of art that refers to a range of lethal attacks, which in the case of Yemen and Somalia include attacks by armed drones. The report does not mention drones or other weapons.
Still, the Obama administration’s track record on transparency has been awful, and this announcement doesn’t change that fact. As the AP reports, the government acknowledgement of the attacks in Yemen and Somalia does not include the widely known fact that drones are used there.
The American Civil Liberties Union has been an ardent critic of the secrecy over the drone program. They have filed suit to obtain documents relating to the CIA’s use of drones to carry out targeted killings. The US government, though, continues to refuse acknowledgement of the program in courts, despite the fact that top officials have given speeches about the program and leaked details about the program to reporters.