Over the weekend, investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill told an audience in Brazil that he and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald are working on a project involving “how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program.”
The information apparently comes from classified NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden to Greenwald (and others).
We know a bit about the NSA’s connection to America’s global capture/kill machine already.
In the 2010 report “Top secret America,” Dana Priest and Will Arkin of The Washington Post reported that the NSA provided the capture/kill squads of Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) with a huge advantage after the signals intelligence agency “learned to locate all electronic signals in Iraq.”
“We just had a field day,” a senior JSOC commander told the Post.
In 2011 Spencer Ackerman of Wired reported that the NSA created a system called “the Real Time Regional Gateway” that allowed the sharing of intelligence from raids and interrogations across the JSOC network.
In the best-selling book “Dirty Wars: The World Is A Battlefield,” Scahill explains that JSOC worked closely with two intelligence units that would help provide JSOC with real-time intelligence to “fuel a global manhunt.”
The Army’s Intelligence Support Activity (i.e., the “Activity“), JSOC’s in-house intelligence wing, specialised in operational electronic surveillance and intercepts.
In 2002 Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld established Strategic Support Branch (SSB), which included “new clandestine teams” made up of “case officers, linguists, interrogators and technical specialists” that were deployed alongside JSOC forces.
Together these teams contributed to a system where JSOC’s intelligence operations “were feeding its action and often that intelligence was not vetted by anyone outside of the JSOC structure,” Scahill writes. “The priority was to keep hitting targets.”
The insulated intelligence led to a lot of people being killed — some of whom were innocent.
“You go in and you get some intelligence …. and [Special Ops forces] kill 27, 30, 40 people, whatever, and they capture seven or eight,” U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.), who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff (2002-05), told Scahill. “Then you find out that the intelligence was bad and you killed a bunch of innocent people and you have a bunch of innocent people on your hands, so you stuff ’em in Guantanamo. No one ever knows anything about that.”
What Scahill said in Brazil suggests that the project includes even more detail about the NSA’s role in the murkiest part of JSOC’s rise.
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