The US drone that assassinated American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen was launched from one of the Obama administration’s newly constructed bases on the Arabian Peninsula.
It was only a few weeks ago that reports were first released about the Obama administration’s new construction of “a constellation of secret drone bases,” as they were described by the Washington Post, installed with the specific intention to broaden the drone war in the Arabian Peninsula and northeast Africa, especially in Yemen and Somalia.
The attack killed two American citizens, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, and set a precedent for presidential orders to assassinate Americans without being officially charged or provided lawful due process. But another precedent was set: the attack was the first indication that the newly constructed drone bases are operational.
The assassinations were extralegal on civil rights grounds, but the operational use of the new drone bases sets an additional ominous legal precedent for the use of lethal force. The war zone, in which anyone determined to be an enemy can be killed without question at the order of the President, has officially expanded to Yemen and Somalia in a more literal way than ever before.