Documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden reveal that the National Security Agency worked closely with the CIA to help target suspected terrorists overseas with drone attacks that have left over 3,000 dead, including hundreds of civilians.
The NSA intercepted an email from Osama bin Laden associate Hassan Ghul’s wife in 2012 — an email that provided clues to his location and led to the drone strike that killed him in Pakistan that October, according to The Washington Post. The U.S. never publicly claimed credit for Ghul’s death, but self-congratulatory documents titled ”CT MAC Hassan Gul Success” were drafted to boast of the NSA’s successful collaboration with the CIA drone program.
Although The Washington Post agreed not to reveal many details about drone missions at the behest of U.S. intelligence officials, it drew a clear connection between the extensive collaboration between the CIA and NSA.
The CIA depends on the NSA’s massive surveillance sweeps — which include emails, phone calls and any fragments of data it can find — to conduct its deadly strikes effectively. (RELATED: NSA chief begs public to support massive spying apparatus)
And yet, the documents claim the NSA did not use the phone metadata it collected from every American or the information it forced Google and Microsoft to turn over. Nor did it sift through the nets it placed at ket Internet gateways — instead, it appears the agency found and targeted Ghul through what the Post calls “highly targeted network penetrations” that capture what the massive sweeps do not.
The U.S. capture of Ghul in 2004 helped expose bin Laden’s courier network, according to Fox News. Ghul spent two years in a CIA prison and returned to Pakistan in 2006, where he began to re-establish terrorist networks to help al-Qaida move money and forces between countries. After bin Laden’s death at the hands of Navy SEALS in 2011, the Treasury Department label Ghul as a target of counterterrorism sanctions and the NSA promptly launched a campaign to track him down.
NSA agents also work in every major U.S. Embassy alongside CIA agents and senior NSA analysts reside in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center.