Details of US drone strike programme leaked through anonymous source

A trove of documents leaked by an anonymous source has been released by The Intercept, revealing a truly devastating data breach against US intelligence.

Predator drone
Predator drone

The Intercept, a website dedicated to encouraging the leaking of high-level government secrets, has published a host of documents exfiltrated by an individual dubbed the ‘Edward Snowden Copy Cat'.

The documents contained sensitive information on Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) counter-terrorism operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) carried out by the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in countries such as Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.

The documents reveal how the terror “watchlist” appears on the terminals of personnel conducting drone operations. A ‘command line' style window shows IMEI numbers associated with  mobile phone SIM cards and handsets to specific individuals. This allows the operative to geolocate the target and launch an airstrike.

According to The Intercept, all of these new document are coming from a single anonymous source. Unlike the leaks of Snowden or Manning, the spilled classified materials are accompanied by a mission statement so the world is 100 percent clear on the purpose behind the leak.

“This outrageous explosion of watch listing – 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 Intercept.

Reports first surfaced in the fall of 2014 that the Intercept had found a second source of highly classified information. Unsurprisingly, as they are classified documents, no one at the CIA, NSA or JSOC would comment.

Presumably with a data leak of this scale, many of those high up in the US government will be asking how they managed to have another huge set of documents stolen.

In the documentary Citizenfour, also released last year, Edward Snowden referenced the leak, calling it “risky”, and said “that person is incredibly bold”, presumably as the leak contained the ‘Most Wanted' terrorist list the US government held.

Reporter Glenn Greenwald who originally reported on the Snowden leak in 2013 responded to Snowden saying that, “... it was obviously motivated by what you did”.

Yahoo News reported last year that the FBI had arrested a suspect in the Intercept leak and searched his or her home as part of a criminal investigation. Much like Snowden's revelations, these predictions  sparked a global debate on the limits of privacy versus the needs of national security.

You can read The Intercept's full data trove here.