Washington, D.C. – An anonymous whistleblower within the U.S. intelligence community provided a cache of classified intelligence documents to The Intercept, which revealed the extremely dysfunctional nature of the American drone warfare/targeted assassination program.
The eight-part investigation, which included documents, analysis, slides, and visuals, was released on Thursday as “The Drone Papers,” by The Intercept.
The insightful reporting by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill and fellow investigative journalists analyzed and explored the manner in which drone strikes have been carried out by the U.S. in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan; ultimately questioning the legitimacy and legality of these extrajudicial killings.
The stunning array of classified information revealed an extreme lack of precision in the drone assassination campaign, with one document reporting that “nearly 90 percent of people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets” over one five-month period.
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 15, 2015
The report focused on the use of drones as “President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice, used by the military and the CIA” to carry out assassinations in both declared war zones and areas outside of recognized war zones. While the administration has consistently stated that the drone program is operated as a precision program carried out with strict oversight and regulation, evidence reveals that this is false. Operations outside of declared war zones were done with very little restriction, as “it was not until May 2013 the White House released a set of standards and procedures for conducting such strikes.”
“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,” the intelligence whistleblower told The Intercept.
This outrageous explosion of watchlisting — of 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 battlefield — it was, from the very first instance, wrong.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) October 15, 2015
The source claims that the digital data gathered from cell phones and emails are the primary tools used by the military to find, fix, and finish its targets, and says that relying on such tactics “require an enormous amount of faith in the technology that you’re using.” The report makes it clear that bad intelligence has gotten many innocent people killed in drone attacks, including U.S. civilians.
The documents reveal that the U.S. government has intentionally labeled people killed in drone strikes as enemy combatants, even though they were in no way intended to be the target of the strike, and have no relation to the operation.
The actions by the government are intended to mask the actual extent of civilians being killed by the U.S. drone program.
— Ryan Gallagher (@rj_gallagher) October 15, 2015
Following the publication of the report, Amnesty International has called on the U.S. Congress to start “an immediate independent inquiry into the Obama administration’s drone strikes overseas.”
“These documents raise serious concerns about whether the USA has systematically violated international law, including by classifying unidentified people as ‘combatants’ to justify their killings,” Naureen Shah, Director of Security with Human Rights at Amnesty International USA said.
Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has come out to condemn the U.S. drone assassination program after the revelations by the Intercept, stating that “the Obama administration’s lethal program desperately needs transparency and accountability because it is undermining the right to life and national security.”
“A review of the lethal force program must be transparent and include disclosure of the United States’ compliance with its legal obligations,” Hina Shamsi of the ACLU’s National Security Project said. “These eye-opening disclosures make a mockery of U.S. government claims that its lethal force operations are based on reliable intelligence and limited to lawful targets.”
It’s important to keep in mind that these foreign countries don’t hate us for our “freedom.” They hate us for killing their innocent mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters as they sleep.
Unless the U.S. reins in its imperialistic war machine, expect the blowback from our interventionist policies to continue.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, AlterNet, InfoWars, MintPressNews and maany other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.