Leaks of classified information have been part of the fabric of social interactions and also modern-day communications that includes the Internet, from hacked celeb pics to the now infamous Edward Snowdon cache of documents that detailed the extensive surveillance states and operations around the world. This leak is no different, yet if genuine, (I have to put this caveat in just in case someone is lying here and it comes back to bite me firmly on the posterior), is a huge trove of secret documents which have been published by The Intercept, detailing the Obama administration’s secretive and controversial drone-based assassination program.
If you’re not familiar with this program then let me elaborate, The US military and figures including the Obama administration have implemented a program that sort to track and kill high-value enemy targets throughout Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Now onto the documents which have been classed as being leaked by an anonymous whistleblower, this information covers an extensive array of subjects which includes kill chains, operations and also the standard intelligence flaws.
Skimming through this information reveals some extremely sensitive documents, for example “One top-secret document shows how the terror watchlist appears in the terminals of personnel conducting drone operations, linking unique codes associated with cellphone SIM cards and handsets to specific individuals in order to geolocate them”.
Another document reveals a case of a British citizen, Bilal el-Berjawi, who was stripped of his citizenship before being killed in a U.S drone strike in 2012. “British and American intelligence had Berjawi under surveillance for several years as he travelled back and forth between the U.K. and East Africa yet did not capture him. Instead, the U.S. hunted him down” and eventually used a drone strike to kill him in Somalia.
The “Kill Chain” sounds like a title to a film, yet this purported leak is very compelling, interesting, informative and also fascinating. It details the steps required to authorize a drone strike on a target in Yemen and the people who it passes through. It also shows that according to a Pentagon study, president Obama signed off on a 60 day authorizations to kill suspected terrorists, but he did not sign off on individual strikes.
According to the documents, there are two steps. Step 1 is choosing the target and step 2 is taking a strike. Step 1 starts from a JSOC task force before going through officials including Leon Panetta who is the Secretary of Defence, a principals committee which includes Hillary Clinton all the way to President Obama. Step 2, in the case of strikes in Yemen, ranges from a JSOC task force all the way to the president of Yemen.
Well yes, this is indeed big, am I surprised? No, the US is addicted to the Find Fix Finish mantra which has made drone strikes popular for the administration. The cache is extensive and it is far too much information to detail here, otherwise this article would be 5000 words long, and few want that.
It will be fascinating to see further developments in the coming days, weeks and also months.
Thank you theintercept for providing us with this information.