First came Chelsea Manning with the explosive revelations to WikiLeaks, irreversibly changing people’s perceptions of the “war on terror.” Then Edward Snowden burst onto the scene, leaving the U.S. intelligence agencies with a lot of explaining to do.
Now, in the seemingly unstoppable tide of damning disclosures, a further source from the U.S. intelligence community has leaked reams of documents, lifting the lid on the U.S.’s deadly drone program.
The whistleblower, whose identity has not come to light, passed the sensitive files to The Intercept, saying that the public should be informed about the criteria for people to be placed on “kill lists” and "ultimately assassinated on orders from the highest echelons of the US government."
Whistleblower who leaked SECRET Drone Papers: personnel involved w assassination think they have "godlike powers" pic.twitter.com/7LldzMUrFX— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) October 15, 2015
The cache of secret documents demonstrate all facets of the drone program in Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia.
"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 source told the investigative website, founded by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, the journalists Snowden turned to to process his information.
The Drone Papers, published Thursday, indicate that drone strikes were often executed with inadequate intelligence, and led to further compromising intelligence gathering.
In Afghanistan, strikes from unmanned aircraft killed at least 219 further people than the 35 targets.
"The military is easily capable of adapting to change, but they don’t like to stop anything they feel is making their lives easier, or is to their benefit. And this certainly is, in their eyes, a very quick, clean way of doing things. It’s a very slick, efficient way to conduct the war, without having to have the massive ground invasion mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan,” the source explained.
"But at this point, they have become so addicted to this machine, to this way of doing business, that it seems like it’s going to become harder and harder to pull them away from it the longer they’re allowed to continue operating in this way."
The Drone Papers also provides a guide to acronyms and decodes cryptic language used by the military to disguise the facts as well as details of special operations task force TF 38-4 which U.S. President Barack Obama hoped would win the war.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism revealed that by February this year, almost 2,500 people had been killed in drone strikes since Obama’s inauguration. The Democrat has launched nine times more strikes with the unmanned aircraft in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than his predecessor, George W. Bush.
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