NSA Plays Key Role in Drone Attacks: Report
New Snowden documents reveal agency's involvement
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Oct 17, 2013 12:56 AM CDT
Updated Oct 17, 2013 8:09 AM CDT
This Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010 file photo shows a US Predator drone as it flies above Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

(Newser) – The CIA isn't the only government agency deeply involved in drone attacks. NSA tracking of phone calls, emails, and other "signals intelligence" is essential to the program, documents given by Edward Snowden to the Washington Post show. The agency has a special division, the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell, devoted to gathering data on elusive terror figures, the Post reports. Amid controversy over the agency, the documents could help it argue that it concentrates on fighting terror abroad, the paper notes.

Officials keep a close eye on activity across several dozen square miles in northwest Pakistan, among a wide range of locations. The Post highlights the story of Osama bin Laden associate Hassan Ghul, who was captured in 2004 and provided information that helped the US find bin Laden himself. Following his release in Pakistan in 2006, Ghul rejoined al-Qaeda. An email from his wife revealed enough to allow "a capture/kill operation against an individual believed to be" Ghul, the Snowden materials say. Ghul was killed in a drone attack in October 2012, the documents reveal, though the US never announced the killing. Click for the full report.

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Showing 3 of 17 comments
Oct 17, 2013 10:32 AM CDT
I will give the NSA a honest lead to as where the terrorist are hiding out in America, Washington DC. This NSA witch hunt will turn out to be the largest blackmailing scheme in history. You already own and control over half of congress. So a future politician you do not like, all you have to do is get the dirt on them and another puppet to play with.
Oct 17, 2013 7:08 AM CDT
drones rule!!!!!!!!!!
Oct 17, 2013 6:18 AM CDT
For those of us who have real time memories of the time, we may wonder: Suppose Richard Nixon had had this scope of action and these technologies. Do you think Daniel Ellsberg would be alive today? ... and we may wonder: Do you think Nixon is the last paranoid drunk who will live in the White House surrounded by a loyal cadre of toadies? It's fascinating that people who rail and rage against "The Government" administering health insurance are eagerly supportive of it scooping up vast swaths of citizens' private electronic communication with NO probable cause and sifting it for "patterns."