Chris deserves a book plug for this post - The Poetry of Death: Patterns of State Terror (excerpting and yes, yes, go read the whole thing):
Empire Burlesque - High Crimes and Low Comedy in the Bush Imperium, by Chris Floyd
This "pattern" is put together from clumps of data gathered by surveillance robots hovering high in the sky above Pakistani towns and villages, watching people as they go about their ordinary business, and from whatever bits of local gossip the CIA can glean from paid operatives raking through their neighbor's private lives...And here is the money quote, the final adjudication by Floyd, and the spoiler... but go read the whole goddamn thing (emphasis mine):
In other words, the program, for all its technological whizbangery, is essentially a crude KGB-style rape of the privacy of individual human beings, whose lives are a forced open book, with every action and interaction being judged by a remorseless spy, holding the power of life and death in his hands... Nowadays, we send heavy missiles screaming through the sky to destroy whole buildings and city streets in order to kill one unnamed, unknown suspect who has somehow exhibited the wrong "pattern of life." In almost every case, many people -- sometimes dozens -- die with the victim, regardless of the "pattern of life" they displayed for the deadly peeping toms on the Potomac.
As the Times notes, this particular tactic of state terror was initiated in the last year of the Bush Administration, but has been greatly expanded and "even streamlined" by the Obama Administration. The result has been the deaths of hundreds of people...
...A program like this, conducted on such a broad and relentless scale, is in no way aimed solely at eliminating individual "militant leaders" or even "insurgent networks." It is, quite demonstrably and unarguably, a terrorist campaign, designed to terrorize the target populations into acquiescence with the attacker's agenda...
This is the "pattern of death" that a system based on terror, violence and domination will inevitably produce. You can pervert the language that surrounds it, cloaking it with security-geek jargon, or fine phrases about freedom and security; you can tell jokes about it, turning stone-cold mechanized killing based on "fragmentary information" into a jolly jape to titillate sycophantic journalists and vacuous celebrities. You can do anything you like to disguise the reality of your terrorist campaign -- but you cannot change that reality on the ground where it is occurring, nor stop the reverberations from your evil and idiotic actions from spreading their turbulence in ways you have never foreseen, and can never control.To ham-fistedly paraphrase Pogo, we have met the "patterns," and the "patterns" are ours.