These satellite images show a remote airstrip deep in the desert of Saudi Arabia. It may or may not be the secret U.S. drone base revealed by reporters earlier this week. But the base’s hangars bear a remarkable resemblance to similar structures found on other American drone outposts. And its remote location — dozens of miles from the nearest highway, and farther still to the nearest town – suggests that this may be more than the average civilian airstrip.
According to accounts from the Washington Post and The New York Times, the U.S. built its secret Saudi base approximately two years ago. Its first lethal mission was in September of 2011: a strike on Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born propagandist for al-Qaida’s affiliate in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia. Since then, the U.S. has launched dozens of drone attacks on Yemeni targets. News organizations eventually found out about the base. But they agreed to keep it out of their pages — part of an informal arrangement with the Obama administration, which claimed that the disclosure of the base’s location, even in a general way, might jeopardize national security.
The fourth estate is useless. Being “allowed” to tell the news has become more important than the responsibility to decide what actually is important and therefore news.
and by the way – that Bing imagery? I like the way the internet now gives casually curious people data that would have made a Soviet spymaster weep.