In late November of last year, at a coffee shop across from the White House, a soft-spoken Yemeni civil servant, filled with righteous indignation, held an unusual meeting with two of President Barack Obama's national security aides — and quickly put them on the spot.
Faisal bin Ali Jaber, 56, had come to talk about a painful subject: a CIA drone strike that had unleashed a barrage of Hellfire missiles on his rural village in southeastern Yemen, incinerating bodies and scattering severed legs, arms and a head by a nearby mosque.
Among those killed in the Aug. 29, 2012, strike — which provoked anti-U.S. protests in the village — were three suspected militants. But also dead were two of Jaber's innocent relatives: his nephew, 26, a local police officer; and his brother-in-law, 43, an imam who had publicly denounced the violence of al-Qaida just days before the strike.
Who would be held accountable for these deaths, Jaber, an official with Yemen's environmental protection agency, wanted to know. And who would compensate the families for their loss?