"The drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata."


Tue, Feb 11th, 2014 10:00 by capnasty NEWS

According to The Intercept, the NSA uses “geolocation” on the “SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone,” allowing U.S. forces “to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.” Unfortunately, “targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating” and have developed tactics "to elude their trackers."

Some 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. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

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. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program ? known as Geo Cell ?sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

“Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ?unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”

The former drone operator also says that he personally participated in drone strikes where the identity of the target was known, but other unknown people nearby were also killed.



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