Report: NSA Plays Crucial Role In Drone Attacks | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Report: NSA Plays Crucial Role In Drone Attacks

Basing its reporting on documents obtained by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, The Washington Post moved a story last night that details a close collaboration between the spy agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, when it conducts drone attacks against suspected terrorists.

As the Post reports, this revelation may bolster the NSA's assertion that its controversial practice of collecting vast Internet data is used for the purpose of protecting the country. The documents, however, do not make specific mention of any of the surveillance programs revealed by the Snowden leaks.

The Post story details the 2012 targeted killing of Hassan Ghul, a close associate of Osama bin Laden, who outlined the courier network that eventually led to his capture.

The paper reports that an intercepted email from Ghul's wife gave enough detail that the CIA was able to order a drone strike against the suspected terrorist:

"In the search for targets, the NSA has draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan. In Ghul's case, the agency deployed an arsenal of cyber-espionage tools, secretly seizing control of laptops, siphoning audio files and other messages, and tracking radio transmissions to determine where Ghul might "bed down."

"The e-mail from Ghul's wife 'about her current living conditions' contained enough detail to confirm the coordinates of that household, according to a document summarizing the mission. 'This information enabled a capture/kill operation against an individual believed to be Hassan Ghul on October 1,' it said.

"The file is part of a collection of records in the Snowden trove that make clear that the drone campaign — often depicted as the CIA's exclusive domain — relies heavily on the NSA's ability to vacuum up enormous quantities of e-mail, phone calls and other fragments of signals intelligence, or SIGINT.

"To handle the expanding workload, the NSA created a secret unit known as the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell, or CT MAC, to concentrate the agency's vast resources on hard-to-find terrorism targets. The unit spent a year tracking Ghul and his courier network, tunneling into an array of systems and devices, before he was killed. Without those penetrations, the document concluded, 'this opportunity would not have been possible.'"

The whole piece is worth a read; it's one of the most detailed looks at the controversial and mostly secret U.S. program of targeting and killing terror suspects.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

In An Earthquake, History Fuels One Writer's Anxiety

An earthquake in Napa Valley this week brought back old fears for author Gustavo Arellano. In his anxiety he's revisiting the book A Crack in the Edge of the World.
NPR

Real Vanilla Isn't Plain. It Depends On (Dare We Say It) Terroir

There's no such thing as plain vanilla — at least if you're talking about beans from the vanilla orchid. Whether it's from Tahiti or Madagascar, vanilla can be creamy, spicy or even floral.
NPR

Federal Judge Blocks Texas Restriction On Abortion Clinics

Requiring every center that performs abortions to meet all the standards of a surgical center is excessively restrictive, says the federal district court judge who blocked the state rule Friday.
NPR

An App Can Reveal When Withdrawal Tremors Are Real

You probably haven't thought about whether your phone could help diagnose alcohol withdrawal. Well, it can. An app for doctors measures tremors and may help tell if someone's faking it to get drugs.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.