In October, The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer wrote an excellent piece examining the Obama administration’s increased reliance on unmanned Predator drones to do its killing in the ever expanding war on terror. Included in the article was this tidbit about the government’s high-tech method for determining how much “collateral damage” — innocent men, women and children killed by U.S. munitions — is too much before some guy with a beer gut in Langley, Virginia, hits the trigger button on his Wii controller and sends them off into eternity:
Though the C.I.A.’s methodology remains unknown, the Pentagon has created elaborate formulas to help the military make such lethal calculations. A top military expert, who declined to be named, spoke of the military’s system, saying, “There’s a whole taxonomy of targets.” Some people are approved for killing on sight. For others, additional permission is needed. A target’s location enters the equation, too. If a school, hospital, or mosque is within the likely blast radius of a missile, that, too, is weighed by a computer algorithm before a lethal strike is authorized.
Well, thanks to a high-level source of mine deep within the U.S. intelligence community, I can now reveal a screenshot of the government’s covert computer alogrithm. You math people out there try to make some sense of it: