On December 17, 2009, a U.S. cruise missile struck a village in southern Yemen, killing forty-one members of two families-half of whom were children, ages one to fifteen. The target was an alleged al Qaeda-affiliated training camp in the same region, but according to the Yemeni parliamentary committee that investigated the strike, "there were errors in the geographic coordinates and the determination of the location." The United States initially refused to comment, while Yemeni authorities claimed that it had been their own fighter jets that had killed dozens of "militants" in simultaneous operations. Nearly a year after the strike, however, the media reported government cables obtained by Wikileaks that made the United States' role clear: during a conversation between former CIA Director David Petraeus and then-Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni leader assured Petraeus that the Yemenis would "continue saying the bombs are ours, not yours."
The Distance Between Principle and Practice in the Obama Administration's Targeted Killing Program: A Response to Jeh Johnson,
Yale L. & Pol'y Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/ylpr/vol31/iss1/6