The CIA’s collateral damage computer algorithm — revealed!

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:

Based on my reporting, this is a step up from the CIA’s previous test for determining how many civilian deaths it should expect to incur from its actions: __________.

About Charles Davis

A writer and producer with whose work has aired on television and radio and been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The Intercept, The Nation and The New Republic.
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2 Responses to The CIA’s collateral damage computer algorithm — revealed!

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can't believe you cited this sarcastic joke article in your recent opinion piece in Al Jazeera. Very poor journalistic form.

  2. 1. There's actual information in this post, with the particular fact I was citing already conveniently highlighted.2. I can't believe you're pretending that is what bothered you about the article.3. Go look up "sarcasm" again.

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