It won't confirm it has documents about Yemen raid that 'killed nine children', CIA

Photo: Nawar al-Awlaki was among those killed in the US raid

Confirming or denying that the CIA has records about a January raid in Yemen, which killed nine children, would reveal intelligence secrets, a US government lawyer argued on Tuesday.

The ACLU filed a motion in October asking a federal judge to order the CIA to produce documents related to the raid, but the CIA has refused to confirm or deny that it has such records.

Lawyers for the ACLU say the CIA's involvement in the raid is no secret, since then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at a February 2 news conference that agency's director Mike Pompeo was at the dinner where the operation was approved.

But Assistant US Attorney Rebecca Tinio suggested on Tuesday that Pompeo's presence at the dinner doesn't mean "the CIA was involved" in the raid.

"He has different hats and different roles," she said.

Judge Paul Engelmayer asked Tinio, "So what else was he doing at the meeting?"

Tinio responded, "He could have been there to discuss other agenda items."

The judge said he would rule later on whether the CIA will be compelled to search for documents.

The raid resulted in the death of Yemeni civilians as well as Navy SEAL Chief Petty Officer William Owens. He was the first known US military combat casualty since Donald Trump was sworn in as President.

A field investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that 25 civilians were killed in the raid. This included eight women, including one who was heavily pregnant and nine children under the age of 13.

However, the military claimed that only four to 12 civilians were killed, and the ACLU is seeking more information due to the conflicting accounts o the number of deaths.