The CIA conducts lethal drone strikes against al-Qaeda militants inside Yemen from a remote base in Saudi Arabia, including the strike that killed the U.S.-born al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki.

The location of the base was first disclosed by The New York Times online Tuesday night.

The Associated Press first reported the construction of the base in June 2011 but withheld the exact location at the request of senior administration officials. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because portions of the military and CIA missions in Yemen are classified.

Any operation by U.S. military or intelligence officials inside Saudi Arabia is politically and religiously sensitive. Al-Qaeda and other militant groups have used the Gulf kingdom's close working relationship with U.S. counterterrorism officials to stir internal dissent against the Saudi regime.

Meanwhile, a growing number in the U.S. Congress is looking to limit American authority to kill suspected terrorists, including American citizens. The Democratic-led outcry at the Obama administration's use of deadly drones was emboldened by the revelation in a newly surfaced Justice Department memo that shows drones can strike against a wider range of threats, with less evidence, than previously believed.

The drone program, which has been used from Pakistan across the Middle East and into North Africa to find and kill an unknown number of suspected terrorists, is expected to be a leading topic of debate when the Senate Intelligence Committee questions John Brennan, the White House's pick for CIA chief, at a hearing Thursday.