Drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration have killed more than a dozen al-Qaida leaders around the world, in places ranging from Afghanistan to Somalia. In speeches and public appearances, U.S. officials say those attacks are legal and essential to protect the nation's security.
But when civil liberties groups asked for more information about targeted killing, the CIA told them it's a secret.
On Thursday, they'll square off in front of a federal appeals court in Washington.
Military commanders, government officials and members of Congress have long wrangled over which weapon systems are needed. Now, there's an argument over what computer software should be provided to soldiers in Afghanistan. It's a defense dispute for the digital age.
In recent years, the ability to analyze data has become almost as important to U.S. war-fighters as the guns they use.