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Inaccurate metadata analysis used to kill thousands in US drone strikes

February 24, 2016



By David Brown
24 February 2016

According to leaked documents, the Obama administration’s use of metadata to identify and target terrorists in Pakistan would misidentify over 99,000 innocent people.

The SKYNET program, named after the antagonist in the Terminator movie series, is used to examine the cellular network metadata of over 55 million people in Pakistan and flag suspicious patterns to target for “counter-terrorism” operations like kidnapping, interrogation or drone assassination.

The drone assassination program, begun in 2002 under Republican president George W. Bush, has been greatly expanded under Democratic president Barack Obama. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conservatively estimates the death toll from these targeted killings at over 3,200.

An unknown portion of these strikes were based on automated programs like SKYNET. According to the former director of the National Security Administration (NSA) as well as the CIA, retired General Michael Hayden, “We kill people based on metadata.”


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