IT’S BEEN JUST over two years since Edward Snowden leaked a massive trove of NSA documents, and more than five since Chelsea Manning gave WikiLeaks a megacache of military and diplomatic secrets. Now there appears to be a new source on that scale of classified leaks—this time with a focus on drones.
On Thursday the Intercept published a groundbreaking new collection of documents related to America’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles to kill foreign targets in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen. The revelations about the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command actions include primary source evidence that as many as 90 percent of US drone killings in one five month period weren’t the intended target, that a former British citizen was killed in a drone strike despite repeated opportunities to capture him instead, and details of the grisly process by which the American government chooses who will die, down to the “baseball cards” of profile information created for individual targets, and the chain of authorization that goes up directly to the president.1
All of this new information, according to the Intercept, appears to have come from a single anonymous whistleblower. A spokesperson for the investigative news site declined to comment on that source. But unlike the leaks of Snowden or Manning, the spilled classified materials are accompanied by statements about the whistleblower’s motivation in his or her own words.