Snowden, Greenwald Protest Phone-a-Drone Program

The anti-NSA duo is warning of deadly data errors.

The U.S. is launching lethal drone strikes based only on cell phone location data, according to new allegations.
National Journal
Feb. 10, 2014, 11:04 a.m.

The U.S. in­creas­ingly is tar­get­ing leth­al drone strikes based on cell-phone loc­a­tion data rather than on-the-ground in­tel­li­gence, ac­cord­ing to the latest al­leg­a­tions from journ­al­ist Glenn Gre­en­wald and former NSA con­tract­or Ed­ward Snowden.

A former drone op­er­at­or told Gre­en­wald that the mil­it­ary uses the Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Agency’s con­tro­ver­sial phone metadata pro­gram to loc­ate sus­pec­ted ter­ror­ists. That in­tel­li­gence is then used to call in drone strikes, which has led to ci­vil­ian deaths when the phone is no longer in the pos­ses­sion of the ori­gin­al tar­get.

From the re­port:

Some [tar­gets] have as many as 16 dif­fer­ent SIM cards as­so­ci­ated with their iden­tity with­in the High Value Tar­get sys­tem. Oth­ers, un­aware that their mo­bile phone is be­ing tar­geted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, chil­dren, spouses, and fam­ily mem­bers.

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.”

The former drone op­er­at­or al­leged that the mil­it­ary has car­ried out strikes without veri­fy­ing that the phone be­ing tracked is still be­ing used by the ori­gin­al tar­get. “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,” he said.

In some cases, the drones them­selves help find ter­ror­ists’ phones, act­ing as fake cell-phone towers to grab the sig­nal of a tar­get’s device. Once the phone is found, it can be tracked to with­in 30 feet. That tac­tic is es­pe­cially com­mon in Ye­men, where on-the-ground in­tel­li­gence is hard to come by.

Mean­while, AP re­ports that an Amer­ic­an cit­izen who is a mem­ber of al-Qaida is pos­sibly be­ing tar­geted for a drone strike. It’s un­clear if phone metadata is be­ing used to track the sus­pec­ted ter­ror­ist.

What We're Following See More »
AVOIDS SHUTDOWN WITH A FEW HOURS TO SPARE
Trump Signs Border Deal
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"President Trump signed a sweeping spending bill Friday afternoon, averting another partial government shutdown. The action came after Trump had declared a national emergency in a move designed to circumvent Congress and build additional barriers at the southern border, where he said the United States faces 'an invasion of our country.'"

Source:
REDIRECTS $8 BILLION
Trump Declares National Emergency
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"President Donald Trump on Friday declared a state of emergency on the southern border and immediately direct $8 billion to construct or repair as many as 234 miles of a border barrier. The move — which is sure to invite vigorous legal challenges from activists and government officials — comes after Trump failed to get the $5.7 billion he was seeking from lawmakers. Instead, Trump agreed to sign a deal that included just $1.375 for border security."

Source:
COULD SOW DIVISION AMONG REPUBLICANS
House Will Condemn Emergency Declaration
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"House Democrats are gearing up to pass a joint resolution disapproving of President Trump’s emergency declaration to build his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a move that will force Senate Republicans to vote on a contentious issue that divides their party. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said Thursday evening in an interview with The Washington Post that the House would take up the resolution in the coming days or weeks. The measure is expected to easily clear the Democratic-led House, and because it would be privileged, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would be forced to put the resolution to a vote that he could lose."

Source:
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION, DRUG FORFEITURE FUND
Where Will the Emergency Money Come From?
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"ABC News has learned the president plans to announce on Friday his intention to spend about $8 billion on the border wall with a mix of spending from Congressional appropriations approved Thursday night, executive action and an emergency declaration. A senior White House official familiar with the plan told ABC News that $1.375 billion would come from the spending bill Congress passed Thursday; $600 million would come from the Treasury Department's drug forfeiture fund; $2.5 billion would come from the Pentagon's drug interdiction program; and through an emergency declaration: $3.5 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget."

Source:
TRUMP SAYS HE WILL SIGN
House Passes Funding Deal
2 days ago
THE DETAILS

"The House passed a massive border and budget bill that would avert a shutdown and keep the government funded through the end of September. The Senate passed the measure earlier Thursday. The bill provides $1.375 billion for fences, far short of the $5.7 billion President Trump had demanded to fund steel walls. But the president says he will sign the legislation, and instead seek to fund his border wall by declaring a national emergency."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login