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Death By Metadata: The NSA's Secret Role In the US Drone Strike Program 202

Posted by samzenpus
from the dial-d-for-drone dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Glenn Greenwald reports at his new independent news site 'The Intercept' that according to a former drone operator for the military's Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), the NSA often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. In one tactic, the NSA 'geolocates' the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist's mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device. The technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against US forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have 'absolutely' been killed as a result of the NSA's increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic. One problem is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA's reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system while other top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA's targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which uses a conservative methodology to track drone strikes, estimates that at least 2,400 people in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have been killed by unmanned aerial assaults under the Obama administration. Greenwald's source says he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata. 'People get hung up that there's a targeted list of people. It's really like we're targeting a cell phone. We're not going after people – we're going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.' Whether or not Obama is fully aware of the errors built into the program of targeted assassination, he and his top advisers have repeatedly made clear that the president himself directly oversees the drone operation and takes full responsibility for it."
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Death By Metadata: The NSA's Secret Role In the US Drone Strike Program

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  • by bstarrfield (761726) on Monday February 10, 2014 @07:55PM (#46213763)

    The world is much more terrifying than you realize. The men and women at NSA, CIA, and DOD are protecting you against monsters. You sleep at night, content and happy, because good people are protecting you. This isn't a fascist plot - I've stood literally a meter a way from a man who would have no compunction murdering your entire family. And we actually did shoot him. This is life, this is the world. And please don't delude yourselves.

    You Americans - you sit in safety without understanding what's happening around you. The world is full of horror, and there are people who are trying to protect you, and they do care about the Constitution. The darkness is around you, and you're oblivious to it. This is history. You have no fucking idea what the world is actually like. This is not a game. So please try to understand what the NSA is doing for you.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Monday February 10, 2014 @08:09PM (#46213863)

    The world is much more terrifying than you realize.

    Son, we live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who's gonna do it? You? You, Lieutenant Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the Marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that Santiago's death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives! You don't want the truth, because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like "honor", "code", "loyalty". We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said "thank you", and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to!


  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 10, 2014 @09:40PM (#46214381) Journal

    Do you know anything about the age of Islamic conquest, such as when they invaded Europe or took Constantinople?

    Do you understand that the people who took Constantinople and invaded Europe further (to be stopped at Vienna) were different from the people who carried out the initial building of the Islamic Caliphate and invaded Europe several centuries prior? Different ethnicity, different nation, different language, different customs - that they had the same religion (though even that was practiced differently in many ways) is a relatively minor detail.

    I mean, by your own logic, every single war of conquest by a Christian state against a non-Christian one would be "Christian conquest".

    In reality, Islam didn't play any significant role as a driver of expansion other than in the very first campaigns (under Muhammad himself, and his first few successors). Ottomans took Constantinople and invaded Europe because they could, just as Europeans have invaded the Americas and subjugated the natives because they could, and in that day and age, "right of conquest" was the supreme law. In both cases religion was used as an excuse for propaganda purposes, but it was not the primary motivator.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Monday February 10, 2014 @11:19PM (#46214831)

    You don't get it, do you? It isn't what I believe, it is what they say. Why don't you start educating yourself?

    The Future of Terrorism: What al-Qaida Really Wants []
    Alarm in Spain over al-Qaeda call for its “reconquest” []
    HAMAS Targets Spain []

    I can't believe that people are still ignorant of this sort of thing after all this time. It is almost unbelievable.

"The value of marriage is not that adults produce children, but that children produce adults." -- Peter De Vries