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Former High-Level NSA Official: Drone Strikes by Metadata Alone “Undisciplined Slaughter”

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Washington’s Blog
February 11, 2014

In Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald’s new report based on interviews with drone targeting program whistleblowers as well as Edward Snowden, they point out that targets for drone strikes are picked almost entirely using “metadata” … and that human intelligence isn’t used to confirm that actual bad guys are being targeted.

Image: William Binney (Wikimedia Commons).

We reached out to a former top NSA official to get his take on this story:  Bill Binney, the 32-year NSA veteran widely regarded as a “legend” within the agency, the senior technical director within the agency who managed thousands of NSA employees, and has been interviewed by virtually all of the mainstream media, including CBSABCCNNNew York TimesUSA TodayFox NewsPBS and many others.

Washington’s Blog asked Binney:

Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill have a new article on drone targeting abroad.

In it, they argue that Sigint [signals intelligence] can be unreliable in targeting drone strikes, without Humint [human intelligence] to corroborate.

Do you have any opinion on this?

Binney responded:

The problem I have with drone strikes using metadata only is that they are not making sure of their targets this way. You need to have content not just metadata to know that it is your target. Humint could point you to a bad guy; but, even then, you still need to have content to insure that is the same guy using the phone or originating the e-mail. This is why I call the strikes by metadata alone a “undisciplined slaughter.”

But also, cell phones can be lent to others and multiple people can use the same computer etc.

This article was posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 at 6:32 am

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