[F]ormer Director of the CIA and NSA, General Michael Hayden, explained that the administration's drone kill list, contrary to the narrative, was not a masterpiece of judicial and Solomonic judgment by president Obama but simply the result of a computer program. “We kill people based on metadata,” Hayden said.Foreign Policy reports on an independent review of the White House's drone program that uses a report-card rating system. On not selling drones recklessly to foreign states, they get a C. Overall, they get an F.
He then qualified that stark assertion by reassuring the audience that the US government doesn’t kill American citizens on the basis of their metadata. They only kill foreigners.A program prints it out. Obama reads it and signs it. In a very real sense occupant of the Oval Office has been partially replaced by a hit-list generator actually called Skynet, as Ars Technica explains.
Pakistanis, specifically. It turns out that the NSA hoovers up all the metadata of 55m mobile phone users in Pakistan and then feeds them into a machine-learning algorithm which supposedly identifies likely couriers working to shuttle messages and information between terrorists.
The number of civilians killed or wounded in the strikes has also generated controversy and raised concerns that the operations foment more violent extremism directed at the United States. The Obama administration has insisted only a small number of civilians have been inadvertently killed in the strikes. Independent estimates from the New America Foundation and the Long War Journal, which are based mainly on local media reports, have put the number in the hundreds, ranging from about 300 to more than 900 between 2004 and 2014. The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates several thousand civilians have died in the drone bombing raids.This comes to mind in part because of the President's self-congratulatory speech on closing GitMo. The reason he can consider closing that facility's prison is that he does not take prisoners. He kills everyone a computer program thinks even might be associated with terrorism, based on opaque metadata that is not subject to an independent review based on other evidence, nor is this killing subject to due process of any kind.
Nevertheless, the GitMo speech was delivered as yet another lecture from the High Moral Ground.