US spy plane surveillance flights in Africa

Washington Post

ENTEBBE, Uganda — U.S. surveillance operations in Africa are dependent on permission from countries willing to host bases for the spy planes. In exchange, those countries usually insist that the Americans share intelligence gleaned from the skies.

Such arrangements have the potential to go awry, especially in Africa, where many countries have poor human rights records. U.S. officials said they take care to withhold intelligence that could enable their African partners to target political opponents instead of terrorist groups, but they acknowledged that it can be difficult to know the difference.

  • “The challenge always isllenge always is, what’s the sharing relationship with the nation where these assets are based?” said a senior U.S. military official familiar with the operations. “If I gave you information that I could reasonably expect you to act upon, then I bear some responsibility for the consequences.”
In general, the U.S. military is prohibited from disclosing information about a surveillance target to an African country unless the Americans would be permitted under their own laws to take action, said the senior military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.  Read more…

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