Excerpt from Jeremy Scahill's May 4 Nation magazine online story ...
A US Special Operations Force source told me that the planes were likely RC-12s equipped with a Guardrail Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) system that, as the plane flies overland "sucks up" digital and electronic communications. "Think of them as manned drones. They're drones, but they have men sitting in them piloting them and they can be networked together," said the source. "You have many of them--four, five, six of them--and they all act as a node and they scrape up everything, anything that's electronic and feed it back." The source added: "It sucks up everything. We've got these things in Jalalabad [Afghanistan]. We routinely fly these things over Khandahar. When I say everything, I mean BlueTooth would be effected, even the wave length that PlayStation controllers are on. They suck up everything. That's the point."
Guardrail has been used for years by the US military. In recent years, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has also used the "Constant Hawk" and "Highlighter" aerial sensor platforms. All of these programs have recently undergone a series of upgrades.
So were US special forces involved with Shahzad's arrest?
"My conjecture at the moment is that immediately after this went down and they knew that he was on the loose, parts of the domestic counter-terrorism operations that they had set up during the Bush administration were reactivated," says the Special Forces source. "They're compartmentalized. So they kicked into high gear and were supporting law enforcement. In some cases, law enforcement may not have even known that some of the signals intelligence was coming from covert military units."
Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.
The purpose of Extraordinary Edition is being revisited for winter, headed into 2013. U.S. foreign policy, Central Asia and the Middle East remain key focal points. Economics and culture on your front doorstep are coming into focus here.