The Assassination Complex: Inside the Government's Secret Drone Warfare Program

Jeremy Scahill and the staff of the Intercept. Simon and Schuster, $30 (256p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4413-4
According to this scattershot exposé from the Intercept, the drone strikes conducted by the U.S. military and CIA in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia are a fiasco marred by targeting mistakes, heavy civilian casualties, and infringements of civil liberties. Relying on leaked intelligence documents and interviews with a drone operator and other informants, Scahill, Glenn Greenwald, and other Intercept journalists (plus whistle-blower Edward Snowden, who contributes a foreword) paint the drone program as a contradictory mix of all-seeing surveillance, blinkered error, and indiscriminate killing. Drones track cell phones and SIM cards based on often vague or mistaken information that the people carrying them are terrorists, and the ensuing Hellfire missiles usually kill people—hundreds of them, altogether—other than intended targets. Meanwhile, the authors argue, cell phone surveillance and promiscuous terrorist watch lists have spilled over into domestic American policing. The authors provide a fragmented rundown of the drone strike "kill chain" of command up to the Oval Office—Greenwald denounces President Obama for betraying liberal principles by expanding drone strikes—and include vignettes about innocents killed by drones. There's nothing revelatory here—the drone assassinations and their problems are well-known—but this pointillistic portrait provides illuminating new detail and insight. Photos. Agent: Anthony Arnove, Roam Agency. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 05/03/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-2401-3
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-5011-4414-1
Open Ebook - 288 pages - 978-1-5011-4415-8
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