The NSA conducts complex analysis of electronic surveillance data and uses the results to help the US conduct drone strikes. While this may not sound too bad, the issue is that the agency relies solely on geolocation, forgoing any type of human intelligence, which can lead to many innocent victims.
The information comes from The Intercept, the brand new digital magazine that Glenn Greenwald works for. The data comes from leaked NSA files from Edward Snowden and is backed by a former drone operator who worked with the NSA.
The National Security Agency often identifies targets based on metadata analysis and phone tracking technologies. This is later used by the CIA or the U.S. military to order strikes based solely on the activity and location of the mobile phone that a person is believed to be using.
Using drone strikes in those particular locations has caused civilian casualties on more than one occasion, the source said.
As the former member of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) pointed out, targets often change SIM cards to thwart the NSA’s efforts. This means that most often than not, the intelligence agency cannot be 100 percent sure about who they are helping kill or whether there are friends, children, spouses or other family members in the vicinity.
“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. That’s how they confuse us,” the former JSOC told The Intercept.
As he later points out, the United States isn’t really targeting a list of people at this point, but rather 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.”