The Associated Press reports: The White House is partially lifting the lid of secrecy on its counterterrorism campaign against al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia by formally acknowledging for the first time that it is conducting lethal attacks in those countries.
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, which are remote-controlled, pilotless aircraft equipped with surveillance cameras and sometimes armed with missiles.
The report applies only to U.S. military operations, including those by special operations forces — not those conducted by the CIA.
“In all cases we are focused on those al-Qaida members and affiliates who pose a direct threat to the United States and to our national interests,” Pentagon press secretary George Little said after the report’s release. “This report contains information about these operations owing to their growing significance in our overall counterterrorism effort.”
The report does not provide details of any military operations in either Yemen or Somalia. It merely acknowledges they have happened. Killings of terror suspects overseas are acknowledged by the administration, but it does not mention the involvement of drones. The CIA and military have separate drone fleets.