Revealed: NSA close involvement in drone killings

Leaked documents reveal the spy agency has been working closely with the CIA's drone program

By Natasha Lennard

Published October 17, 2013 4:50PM (EDT)


The latest NSA revelation based on leaks from whistle-blower Edward Snowden shows that the spy agency has been closely involved in the CIA's drone killings.

"In the search for targets, the NSA has draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan," the Washington Post reported late Wednesday. The Post, provided leaked top-secret documents, kept sensitive details out of publication at the request of intelligence officials citing "potential damage to ongoing operations and national security."

The Post revealed, however, that the agency has applied its communications surveillance programs in close collaboration with the CIA in the use of drone strikes against foreign targets. Two of the Obama administration's most controversial practices, both colored by executive overreach -- CIA drone killings and sprawling dragnet surveillance -- have thus been shown to be working in tandem.

Via the Post:

[A] collection of records in the Snowden trove... 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.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Cia Dragnet Drones Edward Snowden Leaks Nsa Sigint Surveillance The Washington Post