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The Soon to Be Announced War in Yemen

In response to my speculation that the Administration might be treating UndieBomb 2.0 as one part of a larger secret including our war against Yemeni insurgents led out of the NSC, a reader Mark Hosenball alerted us to Mark Hosenball’s reporting that drone strikes are not included among the leak investigations.

Recent revelations about clandestine U.S. drone campaigns against al Qaeda and other militants are not part of two major leak investigations being conducted by federal prosecutors, sources familiar with the inquiries said.

Most detailed information on the drone wars, which were initiated by the George W. Bush administration but expanded by President Barack Obama, is highly classified, officials said.

But Obama and top administration officials, including White House counter-terrorism chief John Brennan, recently have been alluding more openly to drone operations in public remarks, and detailed news coverage has been widespread.

The CIA has not filed a “crime report” with the Justice Department over reports about Obama’s drone policy and a U.S. “kill list” of targeted militants, an action which often would trigger an official leak investigation, two sources familiar with the matter said. They requested anonymity to discuss sensitive information.

By contrast, the CIA did file a “crime report” following publication by the Associated Press last month of a report disclosing the foiling of a plot by Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to attack an airliner using a newly designed underwear bomb, sources said.

It’s worth remembering, btw, that Hosenball was the person who reported that John Brennan revealed information that led Richard Clarke to learn that UndieBomb 2.0 was actually carried out by a Saudi asset. Just saying.

Meanwhile, the AP reports that the White House is going to acknowledge our undeclared wars in Yemen and Somalia in a report to Congress today.

For the first time, the White House’s semiannual report to Congress on the state of U.S. combat operations abroad mentions what has been widely known for years but never formally acknowledged: The U.S. has taken “direct action” against al-Qaida members in Yemen and Somalia.

All this comes in advance of a June 20 deadline (I will be on a beach in England with the in-laws) in one of the ACLU’s FOIAs on drones (the one on the Awlaki OLC memo) in which the CIA will have to decide whether it can confirm that it has a drone program.

Call me cynical, but I’m still waiting for the Administration to say all this non-specific disclosure means it can tell the ACLU to take a hike.

Ultimately, though, we have yet to see whether the kill list stories–which the AP reported to be out of date before they came out–will be presented in FOIA response as the current state of affairs in our drone war in Yemen.

Update: Here’s the language on Yemen.

The U.S. military has also been working closely with the Yemeni government to operationally dismantle and ultimately eliminate the terrorist threat posed by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the most active and dangerous affiliate of al-Qa’ida today. Our joint efforts have resulted in direct action against a limited number of AQAP operatives and senior leaders in that country who posed a terrorist threat to the United States and our interests.

The United States is committed to thwarting the efforts of al-Qa’ida and its associated forces to carry out future acts of international terrorism, and we have continued to work with our CT partners to disrupt and degrade the capabilities of al-Qa’ida and its associated forces. As necessary, in response to the terrorist threat, I will direct additional measures against al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and associated forces to protect U.S. citizens and interests. It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of U.S. Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States. A classified annex to this report provides further information.

Very interesting, particularly the nod to the classified annex, which presumably is more forthcoming about all the insurgents we’ve now promoted into “operatives and senior leaders” than we get here. And what’s that construction about, anyway? “Operatives and senior leaders”??? To say the least, the order is odd.

Update: the comment from Hosenball was not from him himself–I’ve changed the post accordingly.

Either Torture Is Ongoing Or the Administration Is Hiding Something Else

I don’t mean to be ungrateful that the NYT wrote an editorial about the 2nd Circuit’s decision to help the CIA hide its torture documents from FOIA. I’m not! I’m glad they’re noting how the courts are collaborating in hiding our government’s crimes from us.

But I’m going to be a bit pedantic about it.

As almost every outlet has when covering the 2nd Circuit decision, the editorial focuses primarily on the picture of Abu Zubaydah after he was tortured. That makes sense. A picture is so concrete, so easy to understand.

It does, however, also mention the court’s ruling hiding what the government has all-but confirmed is mention of the Gloves Come Off Memorandum of Notification. But it interprets those references to “concern the origins” of the torture program (I’m also grateful that NYT used the word “torture,” btw).

The court also said the C.I.A. was justified in withholding two passages in Justice Department memos that appear to concern the origins of the Bush torture program.

Now, I don’t blame the NYT for not saying this is the Gloves Come Off MON–while both Judge Alvin Hellerstein and DOJ have all-but confirmed that, that’s not adequate proof for the NYT. But these passages either represent more than “the origins of the torture program,” or we’re still in the torture business.

That’s because in his opinion, Judge Richard Wesley makes it clear that the references are to an ongoing activity.

We give substantial weight to the Government’s declarations, which establish that disclosing the redacted portions of the OLC memoranda would reveal the existence and scope of a highly classified, active intelligence activity.

In the middle of an opinion discussing torture, Wesley said some activity relating to torture  is still active.

Now, I’m not saying I think torture (well, waterboarding, anyway) is still ongoing. As I have noted, all the evidence suggests the government is hiding this very short reference to the Gloves Come Off MON because releasing it might amount to admission of all the other covert programs either explicitly or implicitly included in it–including the drone program, but also including things like buying the services of the Egyptian intelligence services.

Furthermore, we reject the district court’s suggestion that certain portions of the redacted information are so general in relation to previously disclosed activities of the CIA that their disclosure would not compromise national security. It is true that the Government has disclosed significant aspects of the CIA’s discontinued detention and interrogation program, but its declarations explain in great detail how the withheld information pertains to intelligence activities unrelated to the discontinued program.

But until the Administration explains all this, what we’ve got is a Circuit Court judge saying that he can’t release a half sentence phrase–one appearing in the title of Torture Guidelines–because that half sentence phrase relates to an activity that is still ongoing.

Which is it folks? Torture? Or simply a whole bunch of equally terrible things?

NYPD Stopped 351,739 People Last Year for “Furtive Movements”

There’s been a good deal of reporting on this report the NYCLU released last week, but the report itself must be read to fully understand the gravity of the stop-and-frisk abuse in NYC.

Consider this chart, for example, showing that Mike Bloomberg has had even more success inflating stop-and-frisk numbers than he ever had inflating the stock market.

Then there’s the stat that shows more young black men were stopped last year (168,126 stops of young black men) than reside in the city over all (158,406 total)–statistically, at least, every single young black man has been stopped.

Finally, though, there’s the list of reasons cops gave for having stopped someone in the first place–with “furtive movements” accounting for over half the stops, and “clothes commonly used in a crime” (does this mean hoodies?) cited in 31,555. Read more

Government Invokes Valerie Plame to Argue CIA Acknowledgment that Bush Authorized Torture Is Not Official Acknowledgment

As you’ll recall, back in April I went on a week-long rant about the great lengths–including submitting a secret declaration from the National Security Advisor–the Obama Administration had gone to hide a short reference to the September 17, 2001 “Gloves Come Off” Memorandum of Notification. In doing so, it appears the Obama Administration hid George Tenet’s invocation of the Presidential MON that authorized the capture and detention of terrorists but which the Bush Administration used as its authorization to torture those alleged terrorists. (post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5, post 6, post 7)

In a classified hearing on March 9, the government claimed that releasing the reference in question would “reveal[] for the first time the existence and the scope of” what now clearly appears to be the MON. After I went on my rant, the ACLU informed the Circuit Court that the claim might be false. If the reference was indeed to the MON, ACLU wrote, then the CIA had already revealed that the September 17, 2001 MON authorized torture in this litigation.

If true, it may be relevant to this Court’s consideration that the CIA officially acknowledged the existence of that memorandum in this very litigation.

In response to appellees’ Freedom of Information Act request, the CIA identified as responsive “a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists” and “to set up detention facilities outside the United States.” Eighth Declaration of Marilyn A. Dorn

On Friday, the government responded, effectively saying that Marilyn Dorn’s declaration doesn’t count as official acknowledgement of the MON.

For the reasons set forth in the Government’s classified filings, the disclosures identified in plaintiffs’ letter, including the information provided in the Dorn declaration, do not constitute an official disclosure of the information redacted from the OLC memoranda.

Notably, in its discussion of the cases which it cited to support its claim that Dorn’s description of the MON doesn’t count, it also included language that would address John Rizzo’s extensive blabbing about the MON as well as Glenn Carle’s CIA Publication Review Board-approved reference to CIA having received a Finding covering torture (neither of which the ACLU mentioned in its letter). But look what case they cited to make that argument.

This Court applies “[a] strict test” to claims of official disclosure. Wilson v. CIA, Read more

“The Gloves Come Off” Memorandum of Notification

Operational flexibility: This is a highly classified area. All I want to say is that there was “before” 9/11 and “after” 9/11. After 9/11 the gloves come off.

-Cofer Black, 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, September 26, 2002

When Cofer Black, the main author of the plan laid out in the September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification that appears to be at issue in the FOIA dispute between the CIA and White House and the ACLU (post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, post 5), testified before the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, he described the expanded operational flexibility CIA’s counterterrorism efforts gained after 9/11 by saying “the gloves come off.”

As this post shows, the legal means by which “the gloves come off” was the MON in question. Thus, rather than referring to the MON by its date, perhaps the best way for us to think of it is as the “Gloves Come Off MON.”

Before we get into what the MON did, here’s what the National Security Act, as amended, says such MONs are supposed to do. The NSA requires the President to notify congressional intelligence and appropriations committees (or, in rare cases, the Gang of Eight) of any covert operations he has authorized the CIA to conduct. Some important excerpts:

SEC. 503. [50 U.S.C. 413b] (a) The President may not authorize the conduct of a covert action by departments, agencies, or entities of the United States Government unless the President determines such an action is necessary to support identifiable foreign policy objectives of the United States and is important to the national security of the United States, which determination shall be set forth in a finding that shall meet each of the following conditions:

(1) Each finding shall be in writing, unless immediate action by the United States is required and time does not permit the preparation of a written finding, in which case a written record of the President’s decision shall be contemporaneously made and shall be reduced to a written finding as soon as possible but in no event more than 48 hours after the decision is made.

[snip]

(5) A finding may not authorize any action that would violate the Constitution or any statute of the United States.

[snip]

(d) The President shall ensure that the congressional intelligence committees, or, if applicable, the Members of Congress specified in subsection (c)(2) [the Gang of Eight], are notified of any significant change in a previously approved covert action, or any significant undertaking pursuant to a previously approved finding, in the same manner as findings are reported pursuant to subsection (c).

As used in this title, the term ‘‘covert action’’ means an activity or activities of the United States Government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly, but does not include—

(1) activities the primary purpose of which is to acquire intelligence, traditional counterintelligence activities, traditional activities to improve or maintain the operational security of United States Government programs, or administrative activities;

Basically, the MONs are supposed to provide an up-to-date written notice of all the  potentially very embarrassing things the CIA is doing. And given that MONs cannot authorize unconstitutional or illegal (within the US) actions, it should impose some legal limits to covert operations.

Dick Cheney, in a 1989 speech complaining about Congressional overreach in foreign policy (Charlie Savage just posted this), described how this requirement to inform Congress of covert ops provided a way for Congress to oppose such actions by defunding any ongoing ones.

The 1980 law [requiring notice] did not challenge the President’s inherent constitutional authority to initiate covert actions. In fact, that law specifically denied any intention to require advance congressional approval for such actions.

[snip]

Any time Congress feels that an operation is unwise, it may step in to prohibit funds in the coming budget cycle from being used for that purpose. As a result, all operations of extended duration have the committees’ tacit support.

That’s the understanding of the limitations MONs might impose on Presidents that Cheney brought to discussions of the Gloves Come Off MON.

Bob Woodward provides an extensive discussion of what George Tenet and Cofer Black requested in this MON in Bush at War.

At the heart of the proposal was a recommendation that the president give what Tenet labeled “exceptional authorities” to the CIA to destroy al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the rest of the world. He wanted a broad intelligence order permitting the CIA to conduct covert operations without having to come back for formal approval for each specific operation. The current process involved too much time, lawyering, reviews and debate. The CIA needed new, robust authority to operate without restraint. Tenet also wanted encouragement from the president to take risks.

Another key component, he said, was to “use exceptional authorities to detain al Qaeda operatives worldwide.” That meant the CIA could use foreign intelligence services or other paid assets. Tenet and his senior deputies would be authorized to approve “snatch” operations abroad, truly exceptional power.

Tenet had brought a draft of a presidential intelligence order, called a finding, that would give the CIA power to use the full range of covert instruments, including deadly force. For more than two decades, the CIA had simply modified previous presidential findings to obtain its formal authority for counterterrorism. His new proposal, technically called a Memorandum of Notification, was presented as a modification to the worldwide counterterrorism intelligence finding signed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. As if symbolically erasing the recent past, it superseded five such memoranda signed by President Clinton.

Woodward describes other things included in Tenet’s request:

  • Providing hundreds of millions to “heavily subsidize Arab liaison services,” effectively “buying” key services in Egypt, Jordan, and Algeria
  • Equipping Predator drones with Hellfire missiles for lethal missions to take out top al Qaeda figures Read more

Judge Hellerstein: Yes, the Redacted Torture Authorization Pertains to the September 17, 2001 Torture Authorization

I’m still working my way through the ACLU FOIA docket in light of my ongoing series (post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4) on the Obama Administration’s efforts to keep the authorization for the torture program–that is, probably the September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification–secret.

Now that I’ve laid all that out, this order from Judge Alvin Hellerstein is hysterical.

By order dated October 8, 2010, I directed that the parties submit a briefing schedule with respect to the September 17, 2001 presidential directive. On October 21, 2010, I received an ex parte, classified submission from the Government requesting that I reconsider that order in light of the parties’ upcoming appeals of the October 1,2010 Order of Final Judgment on Fourth and Fifth Motions for Partial Summary Judgment. Upon reviewing the Government’s classified submission in camera, I have determined that litigation of the presidential directive is intertwined with the issues presented by the parties’ appeals of the October 1, 2010 Order, and that resolution of the appeals may be dispositive.

Accordingly, it is hereby ORDERED that litigation of the September 17, 2001 presidential directive is stayed pending resolution of the parties’ appeals of the October 1, 2010 Order.

So Judge Hellerstein orders the government to release the language describing the authorization for the torture program–which I believe is the September 17, 2001 MON–on October 1, 2010. And then the government, all secret-like, in a classified ex parte submission, asks him to hold off on the next issue in the litigation, discussions about the September 17, 2001 “Directive” noted in the Dorn declaration.

So he turns around and writes an order saying, “Hey, you know that language about who or how the torture program was authorized, that I believe the government is improperly hiding as an intelligence method? Well, the government just came to me and secretly told me it’s, um, ‘intertwined’ with questions about whether the government should have to release that September 17, 2001 Presidential directive that, as Dorn explained, ‘pertains to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.'”

Next up, Hellerstein will be writing an order reading: “the resident-Pay thorized-oay the orture-tay rogram-pay.”

CIA’s NSC’s President’s Torture Program'>The CIA’s NSC’s President’s Torture Program

One more diversionary post before I delve into why the Administration is so worried about releasing a short phrase that, I suspect, acknowledges that George Bush’s September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification authorized the torture program.

National Security Advisor Jim Jones submitted a declaration supporting Administration efforts to keep the authorization behind the torture program secret

I want to reflect on what it means that then-National Security Advisor Jim Jones submitted a declaration–sometime in Fall 2009–to keep this short phrase hidden. The government revealed that, though without hinting at what Jones had to say, in the October 29, 2009 closed hearing with Judge Alvin Hellerstein.

MR, LANE . We think the first Issue before we get to documents is your Honor had asked us to specifically identify the second declarant. There is a second declaration in this case. And we wanted to put that on the record that that declaration is from James L. Jones, Assistant to the President for National Security and National Security Advisor,

AUSA Sean Lane then goes on to make clear that Jones’ declaration argues why Hellerstein should withhold the few word acknowledgment that the Memorandum of Notification authorized the torture program.

THE COURT: Both [Jones’ declaration and a second sealed one from CIA Associate Information Review Office Wendy Hilton] support the argument for maintenance of the redactions.
MR. LANE: Correct, your Honor. They both address what the government ties been calling “the Intelligence method” withheld from the two OLC memos, and the Court has been referring to as “The source of the CIA’s authority.”

So it’s not just that–as I inaccurately suggested the other day–that the CIA is trying to keep this short phrase noting that the President authorized the torture program secret. The National Security Advisor–for all intents and purposes, the President himself–is going to some lengths to keep that phrase secret as well.

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The Memorandum of Notification the CIA Pretends Has Never Been Acknowledged

“We don’t do that sort of thing,” [Glenn Carle responded to a CIA Counterterrorism Center Deputy about “going beyond SERE” with a detainee].

“We do now,” Wilmington’s voice was flat. The conversation remained quiet.

“What about EO12333? We’ve never done that sort of thing. The Agency’d never do that. We’d need a finding, at least.”

[snip]

“We have it.” Wilmington’s manner brightened a little. “We have a letter from the president. We can do whatever we need to do. We’re covered.”

–Glenn Carle, The Interrogator: An Education, approved by CIA’s Publication Review Board prior to its summer 2011 publication

Yesterday, I described how the CIA appears to be refusing to release via FOIA any mention–or even a substitution mention–of references to the September 17, 2001 Presidential Memorandum of Notification the government claims authorizes torture and a bunch of other activities.

In this post I’d like to deal with AUSA Tara LaMorte’s March 9, 2012 claim that what I believe to be the MON has never been acknowledged before.

And that’s important because here, the references to [half line redacted] contained in the OLC memos reveals for the first time the existence and the scope of [1.5 lines redacted] That has never before been acknowledged, and would be acknowledged for the first time simply by revealing [few words redacted] in the OLC memos.

Now, as it happens, the CIA made an extensive declaration about the MON in a statement from Marilyn Dorn, the CIA’s Information Review Officer, back in 2007. The description of it–item 61–starts on page 34.

The declaration is actually pretty funny. ACLU had asked for any declarations signed by the President authorizing the torture program. There is none. So in her declaration, Dorn as much as said this MON–which doesn’t mention interrogation–was the MON in question.

Item No. 61 requested a “Directive signed by President Bush that grants CIA, the authority to set up detention facilities outside the United States and/or outlining interrogation methods that may be used against Detainees.” The CIA did not locate a document signed by President Bush outlining interrogation methods that may be used against detainees. The CIA did locate one document signed by President Bush that pertains to the CIA’s authorization to set up detention facilities outside the United States. The document responsive to Item No. 61 is a 14-page memorandum dated 17 September 2001 from President Bush to the Director of the CIA pertaining to the CIA’s authorization to detain terrorists.

So in response to ACLU’s FOIA, which basically said, “give us the legally-required MON that authorized torture,” Dorn said, “we don’t have one, but here’s what we’ve been using for all these years.” That’s pretty significant acknowledgment of what kind of authorization underlies the torture program.

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The CIA Continues to Cover Up Bush’s Authorization of Torture

Reading the unredacted sections of this ex parte hearing on the ACLU’s torture FOIA leads me to suspect the CIA is trying to keep hidden all mention of Bush’s September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification authorizing a range of counterterrorism activities.

Take a look, first of all, at the discussion about Judge Alvin Hellerstein’s problems treating something that is redacted in the “second and fourth” OLC memos as an Exemption 3 sources and methods withholding. He objected, apparently, because the redacted information was not a method, but instead the source of authority.

Judge Carney: Judge Hellerstein rejected the characterization of that as a method, and said instead this is a source of authority.

[snip]

JUDGE CARNEY: I have a follow up, if I may.

So if I understand the government’s position, your position Is the material redacted from the second and fourth OLC memos was properly exempt under Exemption 1, and that Judge Hellerstein’s ruling then was somewhat incomplete in that he rejected and demanded that you use an alternative characterization under–he rejected it under Exemption 3. He was saying this was, a source of authority, not a method.

[snip]

MS. LA MORTE: I don’t recall an expressed ruling in the transcript about Exemption 1. I think what Judge Hellerstein’s thought process was, was that this was a source of authority, and that’s it, not an activity, not a method.

Now, we know what the source of authority for the torture program was thanks to reporting on it–it was purportedly authorized by Bush’s September 17, 2001 Memorandum of Notification. Here’s how the NYT described it as early as 2006.

According to accounts by three former intelligence officials, the C.I.A. understood that the legal foundation for its role had been spelled out in a sweeping classified directive signed by Mr. Bush on Sept. 17, 2001. The directive, known as a memorandum of notification, authorized the C.I.A. for the first time to capture, detain and interrogate terrorism suspects, providing the foundation for what became its secret prison system.

LaMorte’s descriptions introducing these particular OLC redactions make it fairly clear that the authorization in question is the one that authorized the capture and detention of top Al Qaeda figures–that is, the September 17 MON.

Ms. La Morte: [In response to a question about sources and methods redactions] That’s absolutely correct. So, for example, in the OLC memos, [1.5 lines redacted] So that program was a program where the CIA was authorized to capture international terrorists abroad, detain them in foreign countries, and interrogate them using not only standard methods but enhanced interrogation techniques.

But that detention, that CIA detention and interrogation program, was a program that [3 paragraphs redacted]

I love how she makes a point of calling this a “CIA detention and interrogation” program; we know that the finding that authorized the program actually didn’t lay out the interrogation program. She seems awfully concerned about insisting that the MON authorized not just capture and detention, but also interrogation; I’ll explain a likely source of her concern in a follow-up post.

She goes on to suggest that if these passages in the OLC memos were revealed, it would amount to the first time this content–presumably the Presidential MON–were revealed.

And that’s important because here, the references to [half line redacted] contained in the OLC memos reveals for the first time the existence and the scope of [1.5 lines redacted] That has never before been acknowledged, and would be acknowledged for the first time simply by revealing [few words redacted] in the OLC memos.

I’ll rip this claim to shreds in a subsequent post. But for the moment I’d like to point to what I think are the redactions in question.

As noted above, Judge Carney said these redactions are in the second and fourth OLC memos. As part of the same exchange, Judge Richard Wesley makes it clear they are in one of the March 10 and the March 30 memos.

Page 29 of the March 10, 2005 Techniques memo includes this passage:

Interrogators (and other personnel deployed as part of this program) are required to review and acknowledge the applicable interrogation guidelines. See Confinement Guidelines at 2; Interrogation Guidelines at 2 (“The Director, DCI Counterterrorist Center shall ensure that all personnel directly engaged in the interrogation of persons detained pursuant to the authorities set forth in [half line redacted]

And in addition to the large redactions on page 4 and 5 of the March 30, 2005 CAT memo–which appear to provide general background on the torture program and therefore might address authorization–page 7 includes a reference to the same Tenet Guidelines.

Any interrogation plan that involves the use of enhanced techniques must be reviewed and approved by “the Director, DCI Counterterrorist Center, with the concurrence of the Chief, CTC Legal Group.” George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence, Guidelines on Interrogations Conducted Purusant to the [half line redacted].

Here’s the Guidelines on Interrogation in question. You will be thoroughly unsurprised the authorities referenced in the title, as well as most of the paragraph that lays out those authorities, are redacted.

As I noted, I will have a follow-up post or two on this one. But it appears that amid the big argument whether waterboarding is an intelligence method or not is one the CIA is fighting just as aggressively: whether or not it has to reveal the already widely-reported fact that George Bush unilaterally authorized all this torture on September 17, 2001.

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Saleh: “I have given you an open door on terrorism, so I am not responsible.”

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In a meeting on September 6, 2009–at a time when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was already in Yemen, seeking Anwar al-Awlaki–President Ali Abdullah Saleh assured John Brennan that the US Government had unfettered access in Yemen for counterterrorism efforts, but with that bore all responsibility in case of an attack on US targets.

(S/NF) In a September 6 meeting with Deputy National Security Advisor John Brennan, President Saleh insisted that Yemen’s national territory is available for unilateral CT operations by the U.S. Dissatisfied with current levels of USG funding and military training provided to the ROYG’s CT forces, Saleh asserted that the USG has produced “only words, but no solutions” to the terrorism issue in Yemen. Saleh repeatedly requested more funds and equipment to fight al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), while at the same time placing responsibility for any future AQAP attacks on the shoulders of the USG now that it enjoys unfettered access to Yemeni airspace, coastal waters and land. (NOTE. The USG has been actively engaged since 2001 in training elements of Yemen’s CT forces, including the Counter-Terrorism Unit (CTU), the Yemen Special Operations Force (YSOF), the Presidential Guard, the Yemeni Border Troops, Yemen Air Force (YAF), and the Yemen Coast Guard (YCG). The USG has expended over $115 million equipping CT forces since FY02. In 2009 alone, U.S. teams have instructed Yemeni CT forces in training valued at $5 million. END NOTE.)

(S/NF) While Saleh offered assurances that the ROYG is “determined to continue the war against al-Qaeda because they’re targeting U.S. and Yemeni interests,” he continued to link increased U.S. access to AQAP targets with full responsibility for achieving CT goals. Highlighting the potential for a future AQAP attack on the U.S. Embassy or other Western targets, Saleh said, “I have given you an open door on terrorism, so I am not responsible.” [my emphasis]

The public availability of the cable reporting this conversation is just one of the things that makes ACLU’s (with CCR) FOIA of details on the December 17, 2009 missile strike in Yemen so interesting.

The FOIA asks, for example, for details of the understanding between Yemen and the US at the time of the strike.

All records pertaining to agreements, understandings, cooperation or coordination between the United States and the government of Yemen regarding the strike on al-Majalah, including but not limited to records regarding:

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