Friday, February 14, 2014

Death by Meta-Data

The Intercepta publication of First Look Media, was created by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill. It has a two-fold mission: one short-term, the other long-term.

The stated short-term mission is to provide a platform to report on the documents previously provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The editorial staff at the Intercept believe they have a vital obligation to this ongoing and evolving story, to these documents, and to the public.

Their long-term mission is to produce fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues. The editorial independence of Intercept journalists will be guaranteed. They will be encouraged to pursue their passions, cultivate a unique voice, and publish stories without regard to whom they might anger or alienate.

In their first exposé for their new venture, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal 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. 

A former drone operator for JSOC, the military’s Joint Special Operations Command, said the NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cellphone tracking technologies, but it’s proven to be an unreliable tactic that’s resulted in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people. The U.S. has reportedly carried out strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cellphone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. The former drone operator, who was a source in the story, said, quote…

"It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people—we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy."

Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald have also revealed the NSA has equipped drones and other aircraft with devices known as "virtual base-tower transceivers." These devices create, in effect, a fake cellphone tower that can force a targeted person’s device to lock onto the NSA’s receiver without their knowledge.

Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald’s article appears in the new online publication,, published by First Look Media, the newly formed media venture started by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Glenn and Jeremy co-founded The Intercept with filmmaker Laura Poitras.

“The relevance for people in the United States, particularly since 9/11, but really throughout U.S. history, is that the kind of technology and the kind of operations, the sorts of tactics that the U.S. uses on citizens of other nations around the world in its military operations or intelligence operations, end up coming home to the United States, as well.”

- Jeremy Scahill

- source for the above: The Intercept & Democracy Now!