Back in December, before the underpants bomber, I had asked if Obama had launched his fourth war – in Yemen. Reports had appeared that just a few days before, he had apparently authorized drone attacks on reported Al Qaeda fighters.

Today we learn that Obama has done more than send in drones.

Dana Priest reports in the Washington Post:

U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.

Priest goes on to report that the US military operation in Yemen involves attempts to assassinate US citizens considered “High Value Targets:”

The Obama administration has adopted the same stance [as the Bush administration]. If a U.S. citizen joins al-Qaeda, “it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them,” a senior administration official said. “They are then part of the enemy.”

Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called “High Value Targets” and “High Value Individuals,” whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three U.S. citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.

While the Yemen government apparently welcomes international aid — and today London will host a global summit to “galvanize international support for Yemen” — the BBC quotes “Yemen’s foreign minister Abu Bakr al-Qirbi” as saying “the idea of US military bases on Yemeni soil was ‘inconceivable.’”

But with Priest reporting that:

In a newly built joint operations center, the American advisers are acting as intermediaries between the Yemeni forces and hundreds of U.S. military and intelligence officers working in Washington, Virginia and Tampa and at Fort Meade, Md., to collect, analyze and route intelligence.

– those bases may not be so inconceivable after all.

(Video: Part one of the wonderful film about Yemen The English Sheik and the Yemeni Gentleman. It’s on Youube in 8 parts or available on DVD and very worth a view.)