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[TheIntercept] The NSA's Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people. [...]

[T]he NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata. [...]

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which uses a conservative methodology to track drone strikes, estimates that at least 273 civilians in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia have been killed by unmanned aerial assaults under the Obama administration. [...]

There is a saying at the NSA: ‘SIGINT never lies.’ It may be true that SIGINT never lies, but it’s subject to human error.” [...]

Whether or not Obama is fully aware of the errors built into the program of targeted assassination, he and his top advisors have repeatedly made clear that the president himself directly oversees the drone operation and takes full responsibility for it. Obama once reportedly told his aides that it “turns out I’m really good at killing people.” [...]

https://theintercept.com/2014/02/10/the-nsas-secret-role/