Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Stay Connected to (U.S. Drone Killings) Metadata

Finally, you can keep up to date with U.S. signature strikes. After being rejected by Apple five times, data artist Josh Begley finally received approval for his app, now named "Metadata+". You can find it on the AppStore as a free download.

Back in 2012, he submitted an app, originally called "Drones+" that would alert iPhone users when and where a U.S. drone killed some people, hopefully enemies. Apple rejected it, but after 4 more resubmissions he finally got approval. The current app says nothing about drones. Apple wouldn't approve an app reporting that our military actually kills people, but would approve one that had no content. So Begley did just that. "Metadata+" is an empty app which promises "real-time updates on national security".

Metadata+ gets its name from the metadata it gathers to report on the killings. Ironically, metadata is also what the military uses to target the killings. According to a former drone operator, there normally is no personal observation of the targets, just metadata from phones or other devices which "geolocates" the target.

It would be nice if we could compare our killings to our enemies' killings, like the Arabs vs. Israelis or the numerous other 'terrorist' attacks that ageless enemies have used to justify response killings. Currently we have JSOC secret military operations in 75 countries with a fighting force of over 25,000, so that would be a lot of metadata. Incidentally, there has been an incredible expansion of our secret military operations since the Obama administration.

As the documentary "Dirty Wars" reports, we could be on our way to forging some endless wars ourselves with so many attacks in so many places. Nothing creates bitter enemies more than having your sons or daughters as "collateral damage." To date, four U.S. citizens have been killed. Perhaps as testament to the accuracy of our metadata, only one of those were targeted.

Interestingly, Harvard law professor Jack Goldsmith writes he is also concerned about our greatly expanded secret killing brigades—not over the loss of innocent lives, however, but that "One day JSOC operation will make a notorious mistake that will cause the United States awkward embarrassment….". Snowden, it has been speculated, has just such information, but has refrained from releasing it yet.

Metadata+ iPhone App from Josh Begley on Vimeo.

One last thing: here is an articulate Josh Begley giving his graduate thesis. I put a lot of links in this post, but if you wish the core, I'd recommend watching the Josh Begley graduate thesis.

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