NSA kills based on metadata
May 14, 2014
http://beta.slashdot.org/story/201869 – Former NSA director admits to ordering kills based on metadata:
These are the top comments from reddit as of 10 hours after it was posted to reddit.
I’ve read the articles about this program. Essentially the NSA was identifying the SIM cards that suspected militants were using and they were using drones to track the movements of those phones.
When enough of those phones got into the same place they would strike the building and kill everyone in it.
The militants caught wise to this and started handing off their sims to family members and forcing civilians to swap sim cards at gun point. They also started randomizing their sim cards by shaking them in a bag and redistributing them so the NSA couldn’t specifically track one person easily.
The NSA kept striking suspected SIM cards without verifying who was using them. This led to charges that the NSA simply was being careless and was murdering innocent civilians. It’s also charged that the NSA adopted a “we don’t care if a few family members get killed because they’re guilty by association” attitude.
They were no longer targeting militants, they were targeting simcards assumed to be in the possession of suspected militants. this explains the attacks on wedding parties and social gatherings. there was zero on the ground recon just a false positive targeting by a flawed data analytic process.
I work with data analytics and the first rule is to take everything with a grain of salt, never let a computer tell you what to conclude. computers are great at finding coincidences and labeling them as suspicious circumstances, you need to verify suspicion outside of the dataset the computer is using.
The trouble with analytics is that they will tell the user what they want to hear. If the NSA are bidding on a analytical system that can give >90% accuracy, the bidding contractors will adapt their processes to weight their results accordingly.
I work for a company that makes medical software. Our software checks lots of data about patients, allergies, drug interactions, whatever. If a doctor prescribes a drug that the software thinks will negatively impact the patient, like potentially killing him, it will pop up a warning. But it aways gives the final decision to the human. Software is a tool designed to help the human, not make decisions for them.
Jeremy Scahill would have a good response. He was nominated for an Academy award for his documentary, “Dirty Wars” . In it he goes abroad to interview the families and neighbors of innocents that have been killed.
Many people being killed abroad are never identified after they are struck with a drone. In fact, the administration and the military have a policy of posthumously declaring men, militants, if they are killed by a drone and are a certain age. The administration has done a several questionable things in the war on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
>> The administration has done a several questionable things in the war on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen.
The US has done some pretty questionable things around the world for the past 100 years. 9/11 was the the proverbial chickens coming home to roost (specifically due to arming and training them 20 years earlier, to fight the Russians). What we have done since then has been continuing the same stupid shit of “we can do no wrong”. Labeling all casualties as enemy combatants is a criminal act – but the US remains unaccountable.