Drones Target SIM Cards, Not People?

Glenn Greenwald in Firstlook.org describes the NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Watch Kill/Capture on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

By September 2004, a new NSA technique enabled the agency to find cellphones even when they were turned off.

The NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. 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.

Related articles include Behavioral Targeting: Kill/Capture, Phone Companies Sell Subscriber Data, NSA Stores Social MetaData on US Persons, GCHQ Stores and Searches Oceanic Fiber Data, Surveillance State, Top Secret America: The Book, How Your Location & Preferences are Recorded, Google Vs The Feds, US Government: More Surveillance Power, The Secret Patriot Act, P-25 Radios Killed by $30 Toy

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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