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The Drone Papers
The Intercept has just published a new series titled "The Drone Series" drawn from a series of documents given to them by a US whistleblower. The stories are far too extensive to go into but here the LINK. I've only perused a little part of this so far but it looks impressive and is another punch in the gut for the US, I think.
The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: One of the most secretive military campaigns in U.S. history is under the microscope like never before. In a major exposé based on leaked government documents, The Intercept has published the most in-depth look at the U.S. drone assassination program to date. "The Drone Papers" exposed the inner workings of how the drone war is waged, from how targets are identified to who decides to kill. They reveal a number of flaws, including that strikes have resulted in large part from electronic communications data, or "signals intelligence," that officials acknowledge is unreliable. The documents also undermine government claims that the drone strikes have been precise. During one five-month period of an operation in Afghanistan, nine out of 10 casualties were not the intended target. And among other revelations, the documents also corroborate previous reports that all foreign males in a target zone have been treated as militantsunless they are proven innocent after death.
AMY GOODMAN: The documents were leaked to The Intercept by an unnamed U.S. intelligence source who says he wanted to alert Americans to wrongdoing. With obvious comparisons to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Snowden himself weighed in, tweeting, quote, "When we look back on today, we will find the most important national security story of the year." In a statement, Amnesty International said the leaks should spark an independent congressional inquiry over, quote, "whether the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as 'combatants' to justify their killings." The leaks include detailed files on the drone war in Afghanistan, just as President Obama has announced his plan to again delay the withdrawal of U.S. troops and extend the occupation of Afghanistan indefinitely.
For more, we begin with Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the The Intercept, one of the lead reporters on the new "Drone Papers" series. His contributions to the series include the articles "The Assassination Complex" and "Find, Fix, Finish." His latest book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, is out in paperback. His Oscar-nominated film, Dirty Wars, was done with Rick Rowley. He's also the author of the best-selling book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. In our next segment, we'll be joined by Jeremy's co-authors on the series, Ryan Devereaux and Cora Currier.
Jeremy, welcome back to Democracy Now!.
AMY GOODMAN: Astounding revelations. Why don't you first summarize what you have learned?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, the first drone strike outside of a declared war zone happened in November of 2002 in Yemen. And in that strike, it was a CIA operation, with the military, and the whole thing was coordinated out of a command center in Washington, D.C. And in that strike, actually, six people were killed, including an American citizen. And at the time, Condoleezza Rice, you know, senior official in the Bush administration, was defending the right of the president of the United States to assassinate individuals, including U.S. citizens, based on intelligence that they never had to make public. There wasn't another drone strike in Yemen until 2011. 2011, 2012, the Obama administration really starts to intensify drone operations in Yemen.
Despite the fact that at times Pakistan was being bombed once every three days by drones, you had an active drone program in Afghanistan, it wasn't until May of 2013 that a sitting U.S. president gave an official address where he acknowledged that drones were being used by the United States. I mean, it was sort of a farcical scenario, where you'd have the president making jokes about killing the Jonas Brothers at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner, he would talk about it on a Google hangout in response to questions from people talking to the president, but they never really fully owned this thing in public.
What we've published is an extensive look into how this program has operated historically, but specifically under President Obama. One of the most significant findings of thisand my colleague, Cora Currier, really dug deep into thisis we published for the first time the kill chain, what the bureaucracy of assassination looks like. And what you see is that all of these officials, including people like the treasury secretary, are part of signing off on all of this, where they have these secret meetings and they discuss who's going to live and die around the world. And at the end of that process, it is the president of the United States who signs what amounts to a death warrant for whoever they've decided should die, based on what amounts to a parallel, secret judicial system in the United States that is not really subjected to any kind of judicial review, where the president acts sort of as emperorissues an edict that you die.
And what we showand this is the first time that there's documentary evidence of thisis that the president gives the military a 60-day window to hunt down and kill these individuals. Ken Roth from Human Rights Watch pointed out today, if the standard is that the people who are being targeted for assassination is that they represent an imminent threat, which is what the president says the U.S. policy is, then why do they have 60 days to do it? Why don't they need to do it now, if it's imminent? Well, that's because they've redefined the term "imminent" to be so vague as to not even resemble its actual commonly understood definition.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Jeremy, one of the things that struck me is your finding that so much of the information upon which they base these attacks is based on signals intelligence, not real live intelligence or stuff that they glean from other people they've interrogated, and the unreliability of it.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Oh, yeah. I mean, look, and thisyou know, really, we know so much more about this because of the Edward Snowden leaks, but so much of the entire intelligence-industrial complex in theyou know, sort of in the U.S. empire is dependent upon intercepting people's emails, their text messages, their phone calls. And, you know, signals intelligence can be reliable. I mean, if I'm talking to you, Juan, they can do our voice recognition. They can say, "OK, we know that Jeremy Scahill is talking to Juan González." But when you talk to people who really worked in that worldCora Currier and I interviewed Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the top official running all of the Pentagon spy operations around the world, and he was Stanley McChrystal's top intelligence guy at JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command. When Cora and I spoke to him, he said, "Look, I can record my voice on a phone and give it to a courier. The courier can go somewhere else, then call a number, and they can play that, and someone's going to die over there, and they'll think that they've eliminated this target, but they didn't." And so, you know, it'sand he said, signals intelligence is very easy to fool.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to go back to a quote from the article. Speaking about the issue of working with bad intelligence, your source said, quote, "It requires an enormous amount of faith in the technology that you're using. There's countless instances where I've come across intelligence that was faulty. It's stunning the number of instances when selectors are misattributed to certain people. And it isn't until several months or years later that you all of a sudden realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this really hot target, you wind up realizing it was his mother's phone the whole time."
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. And, you know, what the source is talking about there is that, for the most part, the assassination program is not targeting people, it's targeting their selectors, their cellphone number, the SIM card data that they have, you know, an email train that's littered with metadata that they've now determined is connected to someone. And so, I think a lot of the biggest civilian death cases that we have are because they've hit a phone that they think is in possession of a terrorist or a militantyou know, the vague term that they useand "Oops, you know, well, we blew up the phone, but that person didn't happen to be there," because this subcommander of the Taliban happened to throw his SIM card into a bag with everybody else's, they shake it up, andyou know, and this is a tactic that the Taliban useand then they all go somewhere else. They use it because they know that this is how the U.S. hunts them down and tracks them. It's death by metadata, basically.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And even in Afghanistan, where the United States has been occupying the countryit has troop boots on the ground in Afghanistan; we're not talking now Yemen, Somalia
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: or some of these other placesyour information found that as many as 90 percent of the intended targets were notof the people killed were not the intended targets?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, I think the piece thatyou know, if people are sort of thinking about what the president said yesterday in sort of further extending the longest war in American history to a point where we don't actually see any end in sight, Ryan Devereaux's piece on "Manhunting in the Hindu Kush" is incredible. It looks at a JSOC campaign called Operation Haymaker. And one of the sort of among many sort of amazing revelations in it is that JSOC claims to be like meticulously, surgically hunting down and killing leaders of al-Qaeda, leaders of the Taliban, and in one five-month period in Afghanistan, where they have all the resourcesthey have the surveillance technology, they have informants on the ground, they have ability to do night raids, to do after-action investigationsthat 88 percent of the people that they killed in mostly drone strikes, but some other strikes, as well, were not the intended target of the strikes.
Now, what does that mean? It could mean that they killed a Taliban subcommander and a bunch of other Taliban people, and so they say, "Well, OK, we were targeting this one guy, but these people also were bad." But it could also be that they were targeting someone because he had so-called Arab features. And we see that they describein the documents, they describe Arab features, that they're taller than everyone else. You know, Sean Naylor, who's a great investigative journalist with deep ties in the military, in his new book that he wrote, he details this story of how they struck a target because he was taller than the other people around him, and they thought that hethat that meant that he was sort of an Arab or a foreign fighter. And it turned out that he was of average size and that the people around him were children.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, before we go to break
JEREMY SCAHILL: And they killed them all, with the exception of, I think, one survivor.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go to break, your source, this second Edward Snowden, who is this person?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, do you want to give me your pin to your ATM card? I mean, look, this is a very brave whistleblower. And this administration has been relentless in its war against whistleblowers. And, you know, I mean, Chelsea Manning is rotting right now in a prison cell for exposing U.S. war crimes. Edward Snowden is in exile. Thomas Drake and Bill Binney, you know, were smeared in public and had their reputations ruined. Jeffrey Sterling is in prison right now. Our source is an incredibly principled, brave individual. And, you know, I worry because the government isthis government has been relentless in its pursuit of people of conscience who blow the whistle, and has characterized them as traitors and spies, and, in the process, has criminalized the ability to do independent journalism that is meant to hold them accountable, the government accountable, without fear that your sources, or in some cases the journalists themselves, are going to be put in the crosshairs of the so-called justice system.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, your source for the article, the whistleblower, spoke out against the drone program, saying, quote, "This outrageous explosion of watchlistingof monitoring people and racking and stacking them on lists, assigning them numbers, assigning them 'baseball cards,' assigning them death sentences without notice, on a worldwide battlefieldit was, from the very first instance, wrong. We're allowing this to happen. And by 'we,' I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it."
JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I mean, this isyou know, the point, too, is thatwhere is Congress in all of this? Where are theyou know, if this is the most transparent administration in history, especially coming off of the abuses and the torture and everything that marked the Bush administration, I mean, wouldn't the most transparent administration in history actually be a whistleblowing administration? I mean, wouldn't they sort of say, "Hey, all of this is really messed up. It's against what we claim are our core values"? Instead, we see it's like Edward Snowden, an analyst; Chelsea Manning, a private. I mean, when are we going to have anyone of significant public importance and that's visible that actually is going to be about the business of transparency? Why does it have to come from whistleblowers?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: You also quote some other former military people who talk about their criticism of why the Obama administration has chosen this route.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. Well, I mean, we spoke toyou know, Cora and I spoke to Mike Flynn, who is no one's liberal. I mean, he's one of the most significant figures in the kind of expansion of covert operations around the world. And, you know, he has his own view. I mean, these guys are agitators. There's a very powerful clique of people within the national security state that are advocating to a return to extraordinary rendition, enhanced interrogation techniques, snatching people. And their criticism of Obama is, this guy doesn't want to stick these people in Guantánamo, so he just kills them, he doesn't even think about capturing them; and when he does that, we can't interrogate them, and that makes us less safe. So that's their tactical argument. But it's also partwe can talk about this laterpart of a turf war between the CIA and the Pentagon.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, today we are looking at "The Drone Papers," an explosive new exposé by The Intercept based on a cache of secret documents that expose the inner workings of the U.S. military's assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. It raises the question: Is there a new Edward Snowden?
AMY GOODMAN: We're joined by three reporters who worked on "The Drone Papers." Cora Currier is staff reporter for The Intercept. Her contributions to the "Drone Papers" series include the pieces "The Kill Chain" and "Firing Blind." Ryan Devereaux, also a staff reporter at The Intercept, wrote "Manhunting in the Hindu Kush." Also still with us for the hour, Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of the The Intercept, author ofis also author on this series.
Cora Currier, I wanted to turn to your piece, "The Kill [Chain]." How do the targets get chosen?
CORA CURRIER: So this is the first time that we've seen documentary evidence of how the Obama White House picks and chooses targets forto kill them by drone or any otheror other kinds of airstrikes. And this is for operations in Yemen and Somalia. And the slide that we have shows how task force personnel, so people working on the ground in Yemen or Somalia, JSOC task force personnel, working with other intelligence community members, establishmake a package on a target, on a potential target, collecting intelligence, doing reconnaissance. So these people are already under surveillance of various types. And then they put them together, they package them in what they call a "baseball card" on the target, and that passes up the ranks of the military, up the chain of command. It goes through the Joint Chiefs of Staff, secretary of defense, then sends them to the White House.
And there, they're examined by counsels of senior administration officials, known as the Principals Committee, which isof the National Security Council, which is basically sort of all the top Cabinet heads of the Obama administration, all his closest advisers, and their deputies, which is called the Deputies Committee. And that's reportedly where actually a lot of the work gets done, where they really pour over the targets and they think about sort of theboth the legal cases and also the sort of political ramifications and reasons to kill or not to kill somebody. So this is all happening inthis sort of really interagency process happens at the White House. And then, we know from outside reporting that this is the time when, during the period of this study in 2012, 2013, John Brennan, who then became CIA director, was super influential in these discussions. And it was often him that was bringing the baseball cards to the president to finally sign off on giving JSOC operatives then a 60-day window to go after the target.
AMY GOODMAN: The baseball cards?
CORA CURRIER: Mm-hmm, so they would sign off on a "package," what they called it, a targetingan operations package, which would have the baseball card, which was all the intelligence on the target, and then a sort of concept of operations about how they might go about getting them. And then they'd have a 60-day window in which they could take a strike against the target. And that is counter to some previous reporting about whether or not the president sort ofyou hear this rhetoric that the president personally signs off on each drone strike. It's not clear that that's exactly what was meant by that. It seems more likely that he signs off on these packages, and then the actual decision to take a strike goes through the military chain of command.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And a key part of these baseball cards are the SIM cards and the cellphone numbers andin other words, the signals intelligence attached to each of these individuals?
CORA CURRIER: Right. It's going to have, you know, everything that they know about them, so from a variety of sources. And one thing that we learned in the documents is that they are heavily reliant on signals intelligence, heavily reliant on communications intelligence, to build a picture of who they think this person is and why they think he's important.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, in your piece, "The Kill Chain: The Lethal Bureaucracy Behind Obama's Drone War," you talk about the different officials who sign off. Jeremy mentioned earlier, for example, the treasury secretary. Why would the treasury secretary be involved with naming who should be killed?
CORA CURRIER: Well, I think, in practiceI mean, by the letter, the Principals Committee of the National Security Council includes all of theseall of these top officials, like the treasury secretary, like the secretary of energy. Is the secretary of energy actually really, you know, a deciding factor in who gets killed in Yemen? No. It's going to be theyou know, Hillary Clinton at the time of this study was secretary of state, and she would sort of represent the State Department's opinions about this. Again, would she actually probably have all the background on these individuals? No, it would have been prepared for her by, you know, her second-in-commands or whoever was below her, and they would sort of be representing the views of their agency. So, while all those Cabinet members are, on paper, in theon the Principals Committee, in practice, it was a smaller circle of advisers.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, Jeremy, so, the president is making these decisions on the others below him based onI mean, it's very much shaped on the information he's getting on his desk.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. And, I mean, you know, one of the things that we also see in the documents is that a great deal of the intelligence that they're basing these packages on come from foreign intelligence sources. So it could be from the Saudis, it could be from Yemenis, it could be from another entity, from Qatar
AMY GOODMAN: From the Saudis, for example, who want a protester, a pro-democracy protester, dead.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Right. Right. And, I meanwell, yes, that's part of it, but more specifically to this, there are cases where it seems as though the U.S. was intentionally fed bad intelligence toin the effort to try to eliminate a domestic political opponent of the former dictator of Yemen, for instance, where someone that was actually trying to negotiate with al-Qaeda, but was a political opponent of the Yemeni dictator at the time, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was killed in a U.S. drone strike, and it seems quite likely that it wasyou know, Yemen had fed that intelligence to try to eliminate one of their opponents. I mean, the WikiLeaks cables were rife with examples of the Yemeni president trying to get the United States to take up his own political cause against the Houthis at the time, who are now controlling parts of Yemen. But the Saudis have a huge influence over who the U.S. targets in that region. And foreign intelligencethey have their own agenda. And if we're basing a lot of our decision on who should sort of live or die in these cases on foreign intelligence and unreliable signals intelligence, it raises serious questions about who we're actually killing.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, and it seems to me the other aspect of this, as your report shows, is that the government's own reviews showsstates the unreliability of this information. So they're not only making decisions without any kind of judicial process to kill people, the evidence that they're using, they themselves acknowledge, is unreliable.
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, remember, this task force, the ISR Task Force, that did these studies that are in the document
AMY GOODMAN: And ISR stands for?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance. And so, this task force is basically an advocacy wing for more drones, more surveillance platforms, and so you have to view it in the context of this is the Pentagon trying to get all the toys and to make themselves, you know, the boss of everythingand they largely are the boss of everything, because they have the biggest budget and they have the most personnel. But what thereyou know, what the point there is, is that there's this not-so-subtle agitation to start being able to do a lot more capturing. I think it's true what they're saying about the unreliability of it. But there's alsoyou know, there's a turf war at play here with the CIA, so I think you have to take it with a grain of salt and read it in the context of that.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, the issue of innocent civiliansI mean, there's also an issue of the people who they believe are absolutely guilty, whether or not, Cora, the president should be the judge and the jury and the executioner. But this percentage that Juan raised earlier of 90 percent innocents killed in a drone strike, explain further what you learned on who lives and who dies.
CORA CURRIER: So what was actually striking about the Pentagon study, which was one of the documents that we hadRyan looked in detail at these campaigns in Afghanistan, where that 90 percent figure comes from. In Yemen and Somalia, in this Pentagon study, they actuallyit was pretty striking for how little they talk about civilian casualties, how little it seems to be an issue. The whole gist of the study was, "Give us"as Jeremy was saying, "Give us more drones, give us better equipment, so that we can get these high-value targets." And there was sort of little discussion of what the consequences are if you hit theof hitting the wrong person. It was more about, like, "We've got to be more efficient at getting the people that we want," and there was very little mention of civilian casualties.
There were a few times that it mentioned that low CDE, or collateral damage estimate, which is military speak for how many civilians might be harmed, was mentioned a few times as kind of a restraining factor on strikes and something that was explaining why they were moving more slowly, because they had these low CDE requirements. And that's actually reallythat word, that standard, low CDE, is interesting, because at the same time as this study was circulated in May 2013 was when the president gave his big speech about how, before the U.S. would take a strike, there had to be near certainty that no civilians would be harmed or injured. And near certainty is not the same as low CDE. And the White House told us that, you know, the standards of the May 2013 speech are still in place, but they wouldn't explain that discrepancy as to why these internal documents at the same time had this different standard for civilian deaths.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Jeremy Scahill, what was the White House's reaction to this explosive series?
JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, the White House wasyou know, basically said, "We're not going to comment on purported internal documents." And, you know, I mean, Ryan had sort of a funny interaction with the Special Operations Command that he can explain. But at the end of the day, the Pentagon ended up being the one that kind of spoke for all of them and said, you know, "These are internal classified documents, and we're not going to speak about it." I mean, they'll speak about classified material all the time when it benefits their position, like John Brennan leaking things after bin Laden, but, you know, they're not going to address these things. Or evenI mean, Cora had very concrete questions: Is this still the case? Is this true? You know, they wouldn't answer a single question.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
So, there IS another whistle blower?

Edward Snowden is calling this is the most important national security story of the year.

90% of those killed by drones are not those targeted. The US still wining hearts and minds I see.
"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.
I think most don't know that Google [who has strong ties to the CIA et al.] and Facebook have been building and testing their own HUGE drones. While both have been billed as 'functional in a positive way', they could very easily be turned to spy on or harm people. These drones are wider than are the larger commercial airliners and can stay aloft for weeks or months or years - and fly so quietly and high no one will see them. Even in its most 'innocent' interpretation [that of Facebook trying to extend internet to developing nations] there is also the extension of NSA etc. ability to know what more people are doing and thinking/viewing etc. ::bluebaron::

Quote:After Google Grounds Its Drone Project, Facebook Ramps Up Flights

Quote: by Giles Turner
27 February 2017, 19:05 CET

  • Solar-powered Aquila drone to fly a couple of times each month
  • Google announced closure of Titan project in January
[Image: 1000x-1.jpg]

Facebook's Aquila drone
Source: Facebook While Google shuttered its Titan drone project, Facebook Inc. is planning to ramp up test flights for its own experimental solar-powered glider.
Facebook will begin launching a couple of flights a month of its Aquila drone, Jay Parikh, head of engineering and infrastructure, said in an interview Monday at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
"We learned a lot, from data, to how it turned, how it handled, and the battery performance," Parikh said. "The systems performed way better that planned. But we need to fly a lot more and more regularly."
The high-altitude drone, which has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 737 and is powered by four electric engines, had its first test flight in June last year. However, a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in November said the drone suffered a "structural failure" as it was coming in for landing.
Aquila's giant flying wing is solar powered, designed so it can remain aloft for long stretches.
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has been busy devising new ways to connect as much of the world's population to the internet, which includes leapfrogging ground-based infrastructure limitations and instead beaming connectivity from the sky.
Google parent Alphabet Inc.'s research lab said January it had shut down Titan in early 2016. Google beat Facebook in bidding for Titan Aerospace in 2014, leading Facebook to purchase U.K.-based Aquila, which was already building solar powered airplanes. Project Loon, another Google project to beam internet from high-altitude balloons, is still going.
Aqulia is still in its early stages, said Parikh. While much of the aerospace design is done in a farm in a rural part of Southwest England, the software is developed in Menlo Park, California, and the testing will remain in Arizona. Parikh said that Facebook is also evaluating other test sites.
"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws. - Mayer Rothschild
"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience! People are obedient in the face of poverty, starvation, stupidity, war, and cruelty. Our problem is that grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem!" - Howard Zinn
"If there is no struggle there is no progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and never will" - Frederick Douglass
Just their working their way into you e-mails for "marketing" is technically wire fraud - as in invasion of privacy.

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