“Some Will Call Me a Torturer”: CIA Man Reveals

July 14, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Spencer Ackerman

handcuffsAdmitting that “some will call me a torturer” is a surefire way to cut yourself off from anyone’s sympathy. But Glenn Carle, a former CIA operative, isn’t sure whether he’s the hero or the villain of his own story.

Distilled, that story, told in Carle’s new memoir The Interrogator, is this: In the months after 9/11, the CIA kidnaps a suspected senior member of al-Qaida and takes him to a Mideast country for interrogation. It assigns Carle — like nearly all his colleagues then, an inexperienced interrogator — to pry information out of him. Uneasy with the CIA’s new, relaxed rules for questioning, which allow him to torture, Carle instead tries to build a rapport with the man he calls CAPTUS.

But CAPTUS doesn’t divulge the al-Qaida plans the CIA suspects him of knowing. So the agency sends him to “Hotel California” — an unacknowledged prison, beyond the reach of the Red Cross or international law.

Carle goes with him. Though heavily censored by the CIA, Carle provides the first detailed description of a so-called “black site.” At an isolated “discretely guarded, unremarkable” facility in an undisclosed foreign country (though one where the Soviets once operated), hidden CIA interrogators work endless hours while heavy metal blasts captives’ eardrums and disrupts their sleep schedules.

Afterward, the operatives drive to a fortified compound to munch Oreos and drink somberly to Grand Funk Railroad at the “Jihadi Bar.” Any visitor to Guantanamo Bay’s Irish pub — O’Kellys, home of the fried pickle — will recognize the surreality.

But Carle — codename: REDEMPTOR — comes to believe CAPTUS is innocent.

“We had destroyed the man’s life based on an error,” he writes. But the black site is a bureaucratic hell: CAPTUS’ reluctance to tell CIA what it wants to hear makes the far-off agency headquarters more determined to torture him. Carle’s resistance, shared by some at Hotel California, makes him suspect. He leaves CAPTUS in the black site after 10 intense days, questioning whether his psychological manipulation of CAPTUS made him, ultimately, a torturer himself.

Eight years later, the CIA unceremoniously released CAPTUS. (The agency declined to comment for this story.) Whether that means CAPTUS was innocent or merely no longer useful as a source of information, we may never know. Carle spoke to Danger Room about what it’s like to interrogate a man in a place too dark for the law to find.

Wired.com: Do you consider yourself a torturer? At the end of the book, you wrestle with the question.

Glenn Carle: According to Justice Department lawyer John Yoo’s August 2002 memo on interrogation, the answer is no. As one can see from the entire book, I opposed all these practices and this approach. I was involved in it, although I tried to stop what I considered wrong. I feel I acted honorably throughout my involvement in the CAPTUS operation, and tried to have him treated properly, but much of it was disturbing and wrong.

Wired.com: You’re maybe the only CIA officer to publicly describe a “black site” prison, your Hotel California. What was it like to be inside a place completely off the books from any legal accountability? Did it make you feel like you could act with impunity? How did you restrain yourself?

Glenn Carle: No, I never, never felt like I could or should act with impunity. No one I know felt that way. We all felt we were involved in an extraordinary, sensitive operation that required very careful behavior. What was acceptable was often unclear, despite the formal guidance that eventually was developed.

“How did I restrain myself” implies perhaps that I was inclined to act in unrestrained ways. I never, ever was; nor were, in my experience, my colleagues. From literally the first second I was briefed on the operation, I was acutely aware that I would have to weigh every step I took, and decide what was morally, legally acceptable. There was never the slightest thought that I or anyone could act with impunity. We were acting clandestinely; but never beyond obligations to act correctly and honorably. The dilemma comes in identifying where those lines are, in a situation in which much was murky.

Wired.com: You came to believe that the man you call CAPTUS “was not a jihadist or a member of al-Qaida.” Well, even so, was he still dangerous? Did you ever feel he duped you? You write that he lied to you, after all.

Glenn Carle: CAPTUS himself was not a terrorist, or a dangerous man. He had been involved in activities of legitimate concern to the CIA, because they did touch upon al-Qaida activities. That’s a fact. But he was not a willing member of, believer in, or supporter of, al-Qaida. He was not a terrorist, had committed no crimes, had not intentionally supported jihad or terrorist actions.

Did he dupe me? He evaded and lied on occasion, yes. And I always wrestled with the question of whether he was duping me. In the end, I had to decide, though, and I decided he was, fundamentally, straight with me. Never totally, but fundamentally, yes. This is not a black and white-hat situation. I try to make that as clear as can be in the book. Little was simple — thus, my descriptions of the “gray world” in which knowledge is imperfect, motivations and actions are sometimes contradictory — in which CAPTUS, perhaps, was truthful, innocent, disingenuous, and complicit simultaneously.

Wired.com: Did you ever feel, at Hotel California or before, that interrogating CAPTUS put you in legal jeopardy down the road?

Glenn Carle: I think everyone was concerned with this, at every level, and at every second of one’s involvement in interrogation operations. We all worked very hard to act legally.The challenges are how to reconcile contradictory laws, which are morally repugnant, perhaps, and which leave room for broad interpretation and abuse.

No one consciously broke the law, ever, in my experience or knowledge. But what should one do? How could one follow one’s orders and accomplish one’s mission, when it was flawed, objectionable, and perhaps itself legally, albeit “legally” ordered. That’s the supreme dilemma I wrestled with, and others did, too.

Wired.com: When you first interrogate CAPTUS, you write that you tried to establish a rapport with him — even as you kept him fearful that you controlled his fate. When that didn’t get the intelligence CIA HQ wanted, they shipped the both of you to Hotel California. Did CIA consider the possibility that he wasn’t who they thought he was?

Glenn Carle: I had slow, partial, success during my time of involvement in bringing colleagues and the institution to see him more as I did. But I failed, ultimately. The view that he was a senior al-Qaida member or fellow-traveler remained decisive for a long, long time. The agency or U.S. government didn’t change its views for eight years. Perhaps it never did.

Wired.com: Run me through how CAPTUS was treated at the Hotel.

Glenn Carle: The objectives are to “dislocate psychologically” a detainee. This is done through psychological and physical measures, primarily intended to disrupt Circadian rhythms and an individual’s perceptions. So, noise, temperature, one’s sense of time, sleep, diet, light, darkness, physical freedom — the normal reference points for one’s senses are all distorted. Reality disappears, and so do one’s reference points. It is shockingly easy to disorient someone.

But that is not the same as making someone more willing to cooperate. The opposite is true — as the CIA’s KUBARK interrogation manual cautions will occur, as I predicted and forewarned and as occurred in my and other officers’ experiences.

Wired.com: In 2003, according to declassified documents, your old boss, George Tenet approved the following “enhanced interrogation techniques” for use on high-value detainees: “the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), the abdominal slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation beyond 72 hours, the use of diapers for prolonged periods, the use of harmless insects, the water board.” Were any of these used on CAPTUS? Did you take part in any of their use?

Glenn Carle: No. These measures were formally set out, I believe, after my involvement in interrogation. And in any event, from my first second of involvement in the CAPTUS operation I simply would not allow or have anything to do with any physical coercive measure. I would not do it. That point I was certain of instantaneously. I also had literally never heard of waterboarding until the story about it broke in the media.

Wired.com: Did you get any useful intelligence out of CAPTUS? If so, what interrogation techniques “worked”?

Glenn Carle: Oh, yes, CAPTUS definitely provided useful intelligence. The methods that worked were the same ones that work in classic intelligence operations: establishing a rapport with the individual, understanding his fears, hopes, interests, quirks. It is a psychological task, very similar to what one should do when establishing any human relationship.

The plan was to be a perceptive, and sometimes manipulative, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and purposeful individual who understood the man sitting opposite him, and earn his trust.

Wired.com: You came to question whether even the mild psychological disorientation you induced on CAPTUS was too severe an interrogation method. Why? Did you sympathize with CAPTUS too much?

Glenn Carle: There is always a danger for a case officer to “fall in love” with his “target.” That’s the term we use. Any good officer guards against that, and always questions his own perceptions. Always. But I was the one who looked in CAPTUS’ eyes for hours and hours and days and days. It was I who knew the man, literally. I’m confident in my assessment of him.

And yes, I at first accepted my training: that psychological dislocation induced cooperation, and would not be lasting or severe, therefore could be acceptable in certain circumstances. I came quickly to conclude that this was founded on erroneous conclusions — nonsense, actually — about human psyche and motivation. [It] did not work, was counterproductive and was, simply, wrong in every way. So, I came to oppose it.

Wired.com: How did the CIA react to you publishing this book? Huge sections of it are blacked out.

Glenn Carle: The agency redacted about 40 percent of the initial manuscript, deleting entire chapters, almost none of which had anything to do with protecting sources or methods. Much of it was so the agency could protect itself from embarrassment, or from allowing any description of the interrogation program to come out. One would infer, obviously, that large segments of the agency would have preferred to leave CAPTUS’ story in the dark, where it took place.

Wired.com: David Petraeus, the incoming CIA director, suggested to Congress that there might be circumstances where a return to “enhanced interrogation” is appropriate. What would you say to him?

Glenn Carle: That there is almost no conceivable circumstance in which the enhanced interrogation practices are acceptable or work. This belief is a red herring, wrong, and undoes us a bit. We are better than that. Enhanced interrogation does not work, and is wrong. End of story.

Wired.com: The Justice Department decided on June 30 to seek criminal inquiries in two cases of detainee abuses — out of 101. Was that justice, a whitewash or something in between?

Glenn Carle: It wasn’t a whitewash. It’s in general better not to seek retribution, but to seek to inculcate correct values and behavior going forward.

Wired.com: Did you ever learn what happened to CAPTUS’ treatment after you left at Hotel California? Why was he was released? Have you tried to find him? What would you tell him if you saw one another?

Glenn Carle: No. I left the case and knew nothing about him for years. I presume he was released because the institution, at last, accepted what I had argued as strongly as I had been able to do so. He was ultimately let go, I hope, because the institution and U.S. government, at last, came to accept my view of CAPTUS. His release validates — substantiates — everything I argued.

I came to respect CAPTUS. We are from such different worlds, and his and my circumstances — he a detainee and I one of his interrogators — are so radically different that conversation would be awkward if we ever met again. It is natural that he feel resentment. And little was ever clear in the entire operation. That’s the nature of intelligence work. He is not a total innocent, I don’t think. But his rendition was not justified by the facts as I came to learn them, which was at odds with the agency’s assessment of him.

Wired.com: Finally, how many CAPTUSes — people you believe to be innocent men swept up in the CIA “enhanced interrogation” system — are there?

Glenn Carle: I do not know.

Note: For more on secret prisons, see my articles transcribing the sections dealing with US secret detention after 9/11, which were part of a UN report on secret detention that was published last year: UN Secret Detention Report (Part One): The CIA’s “High-Value Detainee” Program and Secret Prisons, UN Secret Detention Report (Part Two): CIA Prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq and UN Secret Detention Report (Part Three): Proxy Detention, Other Countries’ Complicity, and Obama’s Record.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and YouTube). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in June 2011, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, on tour in the UK throughout 2011, and available on DVD here — or here for the US), my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.                  Wired

13-29

U.S. Soldier on 2007 Apache Attack: What I Saw

April 22, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Kim Zetter Email Author , Wired Magazine

centcom-screenshot

Ethan McCord had just returned from dropping his children at school earlier this month, when he turned on the TV news to see grainy black-and-white video footage of a soldier running from a bombed-out van with a child in his arms. It was a scene that had played repeatedly in his mind the last three years, and he knew exactly who the soldier was.

In July 2007, McCord, a 33-year-old Army specialist, was engaged in a firefight with insurgents in an Iraqi suburb when his platoon, part of Bravo Company, 2-16 Infantry, got orders to investigate a nearby street. When they arrived, they found a scene of fresh carnage – the scattered remains of a group of men, believed to be armed, who had just been gunned down by Apache attack helicopters. They also found 10-year-old Sajad Mutashar and his five-year-old sister Doaha covered in blood in a van. Their 43-year-old father, Saleh, had been driving them to a class when he spotted one of the wounded men moving in the street and drove over to help him, only to become a victim of the Apache guns.

McCord was captured in a video shot from one helicopter as he ran frantically to a military vehicle with Sajad in his arms seeking medical care. That classified video created its own firestorm when the whistleblower site Wikileaks posted it April 5 on a website titled “Collateral Murder” and asserted that the attack was unprovoked. More than a dozen people were killed in three attacks captured in the video, including two Reuters journalists, one carrying a camera that was apparently mistaken for a weapon.

McCord, who served seven years in the military before leaving in the summer of 2009 due to injuries, recently posted an apologetic letter online with fellow soldier Josh Steiber supporting the release of the video and asking the family’s forgiveness. McCord is the father of three children.

Wired’s Kim Zetter reached McCord at his home in Kansas. This is his account of what he saw.

Wired.com: At the time you arrived on the scene, you didn’t know what had happened, is that right?

Ethan McCord: Right. We were engaged in our own conflict roughly about three or four blocks away. We heard the gunships open up. [Then] we were just told … to move to this [other] location. It was pretty much a shock when we got there to see what had happened, the carnage and everything else.

Wired.com: But you had been in combat before. It shouldn’t have surprised you what you saw.

McCord: I have never seen anybody being shot by a 30-millimeter round before. It didn’t seem real, in the sense that it didn’t look like human beings. They were destroyed.

Wired.com: Was anyone moving when you got there other than the two children?

McCord: There were approximately two to three other people who were moving who were still somewhat alive, and the medics were attending to them.

Wired.com: The first thing you saw was the little girl in the van. She had a stomach wound?

McCord: She had a stomach wound and she had glass in her eyes and in her hair. She was crying. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I went to the van immediately, because I could hear her crying. It wasn’t like a cry of pain really. It was more of a child who was frightened out of her mind. And the next thing I saw was the boy…. He was kind of sitting on the floorboard of the van, but with his head laying on the bench seat in the front. And then the father, who I’m assuming was the father, in the driver’s seat slumped over on his side. Just from looking into the van, and the amount of blood that was on the boy and the father, I immediately figured they were dead.

So, the first thing I did was grab the girl. I grabbed the medic and we went into the back. There’s houses behind where the van was. We took her in there and we’re checking to see if there were any other wounds. You can hear the medic saying on the video, “There’s nothing I can do here, she needs to be evac’d.” He runs the girl to the Bradley. I went back outside to the van, and that’s when the boy took, like, a labored, breath. That’s when I started screaming, “The boy’s alive! The boy’s alive!” And I picked him up and started running with him over to the Bradley. He opened his eyes when I was carrying him. I just kept telling him, “Don’t die; don’t die.” He looked at me, then his eyes rolled back into this head.

Then I got yelled at by my platoon leader that I needed to stop trying to save these mf’n kids and go pull security…. I was told to go pull security on a rooftop. When we were on that roof, we were still taking fire. There were some people taking pot shots, sniper shots, at us on the rooftop. We were probably there on the roof for another four to five hours.

Wired.com: How much sniper fire were you getting?

McCord: It was random sporadic spurts. I did see a guy … moving from a rooftop from one position to another with an AK-47, who was firing at us. He was shot and killed.

After the incident, we went back to the FOB [forward operating base] and that’s when I was in my room. I had blood all down the front of me from the children. I was trying to wash it off in my room. I was pretty distraught over the whole situation with the children. So I went to a sergeant and asked to see [the mental health person], because I was having a hard time dealing with it. I was called a pussy and that I needed to suck it up and a lot of other horrible things. I was also told that there would be repercussions if I was to go to mental health.

Wired.com: What did you understand that to mean?

McCord: I would be smoked. Smoked is basically like you’re doing pushups a lot, you’re doing sit-ups … crunches and flutter kicks. They’re smoking you, they’re making you tired. I was told that I needed to get the sand out of my vagina…. So I just sucked it up and tried to move on with everything.

I’ve lived with seeing the children that way since the incident happened. I’ve had nightmares. I was diagnosed with chronic, severe PTSD. [But] I was actually starting to get kind of better. … I wasn’t thinking about it as much. [Then I] took my children to school one day and I came home and sat down on the couch and turned on the TV with my coffee, and on the news I’m running across the screen with a child. The flood of emotions came back. I know the scene by heart; it’s burned into my head. I know the van, I know the faces of everybody that was there that day.

Wired.com: Did you try to get information about the two children after the shooting?

McCord: My platoon sergeant knew that I was having a hard time with it and that same night … he came into the room and he told me, hey, just so you know, both of the children survived, so you can suck it up now. I didn’t know if he was telling me that just to get me to shut up and to do my job or if he really found something out. I always questioned it in the back of my mind.

I did see a video on YouTube after the Wikileaks came out, of the children being interviewed. … When I saw their faces, I was relieved, but I was just heartbroken. I have a huge place in my heart for children, having some of my own. Knowing that I was part of the system that took their father away from them and made them lose their house … it’s heartbreaking. And that in turn is what helped me and Josh write the letter, hoping that it would find its way to them to let them know that we’re sorry. We’re sorry for the system that we were involved in that took their father’s life and injured them. If there’s anything I can to do help, I would be more than happy to.

Wired.com: Wikileaks presented the incident as though there was no engagement from insurgents. But you guys did have a firefight a couple of blocks away. Was it reasonable for the Apache soldiers to think that maybe the people they attacked were part of that insurgent firefight?

McCord: I doubt that they were a part of that firefight. However, when I did come up on the scene, there was an RPG as well as AK-47s there…. You just don’t walk around with an RPG in Iraq, especially three blocks away from a firefight…. Personally, I believe the first attack on the group standing by the wall was appropriate, was warranted by the rules of engagement. They did have weapons there. However, I don’t feel that the attack on the [rescue] van was necessary.

Now, as far as rules of engagement, [Iraqis] are not supposed to pick up the wounded. But they could have been easily deterred from doing what they were doing by just firing simply a few warning shots in the direction…. Instead, the Apaches decided to completely obliterate everybody in the van. That’s the hard part to swallow.

And where the soldier said [in the video], “Well, you shouldn’t take your kids to battle.” Well in all actuality, we brought the battle to your kids. There’s no front lines here. This is urban combat and we’re taking the war to children and women and innocents.

There were plenty of times in the past where other insurgents would come by and pick up the bodies, and then we’d have no evidence or anything to what happened, so in looking at it from the Apache’s point of view, they were thinking that [someone was] picking up the weapons and bodies; when, in hindsight, clearly they were picking up the wounded man. But you’re not supposed to do that in Iraq.

Wired.com: Civilians are supposed to know that they’re not supposed to pick up a wounded person crawling in the road?

McCord: Yeah. This is the problem that we’re speaking out on as far as the rules of engagement. How is this guy supposed to [decide] should I stop and pick them up, or is the military going to shoot me? If you or I saw someone wounded on the ground what is your first inkling? I’m going to help that person.

Wired.com: There was another attack depicted in the video that has received little attention, involving a Hellfire and a building that was fired on.

McCord: I wasn’t around that building when it happened. I was up on a rooftop at that time. However, I do know some soldiers went in to clear that building afterwards and there were some people with weapons in there, but there was also a family of four that was killed.

I think that a Hellfire missile is a little much to put into a building…. They’re trained as soldiers to go into a building and clear a building. I do know that there was a teenage girl [in there], just because I saw the pictures when I was there, that one of the soldiers took.

Wired.com: Have you heard from any other soldiers since the video came out?

McCord: I’ve spoken with one of the medics who was there. He’s no longer in the Army. When this video first came out, there was a lot of outrage by the soldiers, just because it depicted us as being callous, cruel, heartless people, and we’re not that way. The majority of us aren’t. And so he was pretty upset about the whole thing…. He kept saying, we were there, we know the truth, they’re saying there was no weapons, there was.

I’ve spoken with other soldiers who were there. Some of them [say] I don’t care what anybody says … they’re not there. … There’s also some soldiers who joke about it [as a] coping mechanism. They’re like, oh yeah, we’re the “collateral murder” company. I don’t think that [the] big picture is whether or not [the Iraqis who were killed] had weapons. I think that the bigger picture is what are we doing there? We’ve been there for so long now and it seems like nothing is being accomplished whatsoever, except for we’re making more people hate us.

Wired.com: Do you support Wikileaks in releasing this video?

McCord: When it was first released I don’t think it was done in the best manner that it could have been. They were stating that these people had no weapons whatsoever, that they were just carrying cameras. In the video, you can clearly see that they did have weapons … to the trained eye. You can make out in the video [someone] carrying an AK-47, swinging it down by his legs….

And as far as the way that the soldiers are speaking in the video, which is pretty callous and joking about what’s happened … that’s a coping mechanism. I’m guilty of it, too, myself. You joke about the situations and what’s happened to push away your true feelings of the matter.

There’s no easy way to kill somebody. You don’t just take somebody’s life and then go on about your business for the rest of the day. That stays with you. And cracking jokes is a way of pushing that stuff down. That’s why so many soldiers come back home and they’re no longer in the situations where they have other things to think about or other people to joke about what happened … and they explode.

I don’t say that Wikileaks did a bad thing, because they didn’t…. I think it is good that they’re putting this stuff out there. I don’t think that people really want to see this, though, because this is war…. It’s very disturbing.

Image: U.S. Central Command

12-17

Insurgents Intercept Drone Video in King-Size Security Breach

December 17, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Noah Schachtman, Wired Magazine

Even worse…

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military depends on an array of drones to snoop on and stalk insurgents. Now it looks as if insurgents are tapping into those same drones’ broadcasts, to see what the flying robot spies see. If true — and widespread — it’s potentially one of the most serious military security breaches in years.

“U.S. military personnel in Iraq discovered the problem late last year when they apprehended a Shiite militant whose laptop contained files of intercepted drone video feeds,” Wall Street Journal reports. “In July, the U.S. military found pirated drone video feeds on other militant laptops, leading some officials to conclude that militant groups trained and funded by Iran were regularly intercepting feeds.”

How’d the militants manage to get access to such secret data? Basically by pointing satellite dishes up, and waiting for the drone feeds to pour in. According to the Journal, militants have exploited a weakness: The data links between the drone and the ground control station were never encrypted. Which meant that pretty much anyone could tap into the overhead surveillance that many commanders feel is America’s most important advantage in its two wars. Pretty much anyone could intercept the feeds of the drones that are the focal point for the secret U.S. war in Pakistan.

Using cheap, downloadable programs like SkyGrabber, militants were apparently able to watch and record the video feed — and potentially be tipped off when U.S. and coalition forces are stalking them. The $26 software was originally designed to let users download movies and songs off of the internet. Turns out, the program lets you nab Predator drone feeds just as easily as pirated copies of The Hangover.

And here’s the real scandal: Military officials have known about this potential vulnerability since the Bosnia campaign. That was over 10 years ago. And, as Declan McCullagh observes, there have been a series of government reports warning of the problem since then. But the Pentagon assumed that their adversaries in the Middle East and Central Asia wouldn’t have the smarts to tap into the communications link. That’s despite presentations like this 1996 doozy from Air Combat Command, which noted that that “the Predator UAV is designed to operate with unencrypted data links.”

If you think militants are going to be content to just observe spy drone feeds, it’s time to reconsider. “Folks are not merely going to listen/watch what we do when they intercept the feeds, but also start to conduct ‘battles of persuasion’; that is, hacking with the intent to disrupt or change the content, or even ‘persuade’ the system to do their own bidding,” Peter Singer, author of Wired for War, tells Danger Room.

This has long been the nightmare scenario within Pentagon cybersecurity circles: a hacker not looking to take down the military grid, but to exploit it for his own purposes. How does a soldier trust an order, if he doesn’t know who else is listening — or who gave the order, in the first place? “For a sophisticated adversary, it’s to his advantage to keep your network up and running. He can learn what you know. He can cause confusion, delay your response times — and shape your actions,” one Defense Department cybersecurity official tells Danger Room.

Despite this rather massive vulnerability, drone operations show no signs of letting up. According to the Associated Press, “two suspected U.S. missile strikes, one using multiple drones, killed 17 people in a Pakistani tribal region.”

Meanwhile, military officials assure are scrambling to plug the hole. “The difficulty, officials said, is that adding encryption to a network that is more than a decade old involves more than placing a new piece of equipment on individual drones,”  the Journal notes. “Instead, many components of the network linking the drones to their operators in the U.S., Afghanistan or Pakistan have to be upgraded to handle the changes.”

So it may be quite some time before this enormous security breach is filled.

– Nathan Hodge and Noah Shachtman