At least some U.S. officials say the military got 'played' when it acted on local intelligence to conduct a drone strike in Yemen last year, killing not a terrorist but a political rival of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The May 25, 2010 missile strike killed six people, including Jabir Shabwani, the 31-year-old deputy governor of Yemen's central Mareb province, a rival to Saleh who the Yemeni intelligence sources reportedly knew would be there but didn't say. But as the Wall Street Journal reports in its exclusive story, not all U.S. officials believe they got suckered into carrying out a political hit. The story seems oddly timed, coming a year and a half after the drone hit, and just as Saleh seeks a visa to come here for medical care. There is plenty of resistance to Saleh's visit, and this story sure makes him look bad -- and makes the U.S. look even worse for playing into a scheme.
The Journal cites only unnamed sources, and says the opinion that the U.S. got bad intelligence isn't universal in government circles. Of those who think the strike was a setup, the reporters write: "These people say they believe the information from the Yemenis may have been intended to result in Shabwani's death. 'We think we got played,' said one participant in high-level administration discussions."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.