For more than a decade, the worst-kept secret in the world has been the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency owns and operates lethal drones outside of recognized battlefields abroad. Newspapers blare it from their headlines. Legislators discuss it on television. Foreign governments protest it through press releases. And, of course, human beings witness it through the death and destruction foist upon their communities.
As the Obama administration prepares to hand-off its vast, opaque institutions of surveillance and covert warfare to Donald Trump, many have begun to worry anew about these powers. The new president-elect and his cabinet will have unprecedented power to conduct secret wars and assassinations around the globe, thanks in part to programs bequeathed to him by his liberal predecessor. The aggressive posture that Obama took towards whistleblowers also sets a precedent for Trump to step-up attacks against those inside the government who dare to shed light on such programs.
Top-secret documents expose the controversial role of a massive NSA surveillance base in England's countryside. For years, journalists and researchers have speculated about what really goes on inside Menwith Hill, while human rights groups and some politicians have campaigned for more transparency about its activities. Now, however, top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept offer an unprecedented glimpse behind Menwith Hill’s razor wire fence. The files reveal for the first time how the NSA has used the British base to aid “a significant number of capture-kill operations” across the Middle East and North Africa, fueled by powerful eavesdropping technology that can harvest data from more than 300 million emails and phone calls a day.