Dropping Bombs on Cellular Signals

There should be a new motto for the ongoing War of Terror: it gets worse. Every day new reports regarding the War of Terror manage to reveal facts that are worse than the facts revealed in previous reports. The fact we have regarding the United State’s use of drones is already pretty damning.

We know that the United States regularly practices double-tapping, the act of dropping a second bomb on a target minutes after the first, which often catches first responders in the blast. Two years ago the United States redefined the term militant to include all military-aged males inside a strike zone, which has done wonders for reducing the number of “civilian” causalities. With the term militant redefined the fact that drone bombings kill more civilians than terrorists is an irrelevant fact. Even with the term militant redefined the number of civilian causalities in the form of children is alarming. Even after all of this the United States still loosened restrictions in regards to who it can and cannot legally bomb.

As hard as it is to imagine it still gets worse. Yesterday it was revealed by Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald that the United States is now using geolocation data from cellular phones as sole criteria for determining where to drop bombs:

The National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes – an unreliable tactic that results in the deaths of innocent or unidentified people.

According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) who also worked with the NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the mobile phone a person is believed to be using.


In one tactic, the NSA “geolocates” the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.


As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

This tactic is asinine. As the article points out, the location of a cellular phone doesn’t indicate the location of its owner. Cellular phones can be loaned to friends and family members, left in taxicabs, stolen, or otherwise relocated in a manner that doesn’t indicate the location of its owner. In addition to simply removing the phone from the target’s location there is also the issue of cloning. While cellular phone companies can often identify clones cellular identify information I have my doubts that the United States government takes such precautions when using geolocation information to determine where to drop bombs.

We’ve been told that the utmost care is taken when selecting targets for drone assassination. These claims have been invalidated by information leaked from the military and intelligence agencies. Perhaps the United States once took care when targeting individuals although I have my doubts. But it’s obvious at this point that little care is being taken when determining who to bomb. If things continue in this direction it won’t be long until a random populated location generator is used to determine where to drop bombs.

This war, like all wars, has gotten out of hand. The only purpose left in waging the War of Terror is to fulfill the blood lust of psychopaths and to line the pockets of defense contractors.