Secret documents provide glimpse into US drone war

2015-10-15 20:15
The Intercept website

The Intercept website

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Secret documents from an anonymous whistleblower offer a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the US government's controversial "targeted killing" drone programme against terrorists, a series of articles published on Thursday on The Intercept website revealed.

The investigative website uncovered details on how the deadly attacks are carried out as well as the programme's weaknesses that human rights groups have criticised. It laid out the US chain of command and what criteria are used to put a suspected terrorist on the so-called "kill list".

The website based its reporting on an unnamed source from inside the US intelligence community. The tell-all web portal has previously released highly sensitive secret documents in regard to the NSA's phone surveillance.

The whistleblower insisted upon anonymity given the sensitivity of the documents and because the US government zealously pursues those who reveal classified information.

The whistleblower decided to act because he thought the public should know how decisions are made at the highest levels of government to carry out assassinations by drone.

"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," the anonymous source told The Intercept.

The US has used drones for years in its campaign against terrorists - both as a weapon and for reconnaissance. Drones have been used in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen as well as Syria and Iraq. Exact numbers of those killed by US drones remains undisclosed.

Beyond offering a new level of granularity in how the programme functions, detailing turf wars between the Pentagon and the CIA, the new documents also offer fresh details on specific missions.

One of the new documents provides new insight into the 2012 drone killing in Somalia of Bilal al-Berjawi, a Briton whose citizenship had been revoked.

A secret 2013 Pentagon report shows that al-Berjawi had been monitored for five years as moved back and forth between Somalia and London, yet apparently no effort was made to capture him before a drone missile destroyed the car he was driving outside Mogadishu.

"The drone campaign right now really is only about killing ... We don't capture people anymore," Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, the former head of the Defence Intelligence Agency, now an outspoken critic of the programme, told The Intercept.

"Taken together, the secret documents lead to the conclusion that Washington's 14-year high-value targeting campaign suffers from an overreliance on signals intelligence, an apparently incalculable civilian toll, and - due to a preference for assassination rather than capture - an inability to extract potentially valuable intelligence from terror suspects," The Intercept concludes.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.