Glenn Greenwald's new website contains an article titled The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program which details how the killer drone program probably operates. It's all hush hush, but they've interviewed an anonymous former drone operator, and of course they've had access to Edward Snowden's purloined digital data.
Seems that there is little if any human intelligence directing them to terrorists, it's all information gathered from NSA's analysis of telephone metadata and cell phone tracking. So the drone target is actually a phone with hopes that the human target is nearby. Consequently, lots of bystanders, visitors, or family members become casualties. Death by association. Excerpt:
One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different SIM cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.
Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”
There's another casualty of the killer drones. The noisy antiwar crowd that commanded the headlines during the Bush administration has been struck deaf, dumb, and blind.