US military launches drone strikes based on phone location

The US military designates targets for drone strikes based on information from the NSA, which in turn often uses metadata and tracking technology to determine their location. The identity of the victim would not be further verified.

The Intercept claims that based on conversations with a former Drone administrator of the Joint Special Operations Command. The report is said to be supported by documents from whistleblower Snowden and statements by a former US Air Force sensor controller for drones.

The NSA would determine the location of SIM cards and devices of suspected terrorists, after which the CIA and the US military would engage in nighttime attacks and drone bombings. Sometimes attacks would have been decided solely on the basis of the geolocation program, which would be known internally as Geo Cell, without further verifying whether the SIM card or phone was actually in the suspect’s possession. Also, the location would sometimes only be determined based on SIM card activity and other metadata and not based on the content of conversations.

The problem would be that the suspects such as Taliban leaders are aware of the NSA’s tactics and sometimes use up to 16 different SIM cards, which are then distributed to various people. Suspects are also said to have lent SIM cards and devices to third parties, whether knowingly or not. As a result, innocents have been killed in attacks, claims the former Drone administrator. The practice would contradict statements by President Obama, who in response to criticism about the use of drones stated that the operations are being prepared with the utmost care.

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