From the Stars and Stripes.
Biometric database helps U.S. track Iraqis, Afghans
Commentary by me below the article quotes
Many details of the database are classified, but according to Joint Multinational Readiness Center strategic planner Arnie Geisler, who helps train U.S. troops in Germany, it is being compiled by soldiers using equipment that scans an individual’s retina and fingerprints and takes a digital photograph of his or her face.
The equipment takes four measurements of each face and converts them into a biometric algorithm, which is stored in the database along with the retina scan, fingerprints and the person’s name and address, he said.
“It will show you if there is a match for someone who is wanted in the system,” Geisler said.
Vandal said soldiers add people to the database when they pass through entry control points, when they are detained or if they work on a coalition facility. Inputting the data and confirming it takes two to five minutes depending on the proficiency of the soldier using the equipment, he said.
The number of Iraqi and Afghan individuals in the database is classified, he added.
Geisler said biometrics are the cutting edge of military training.
“I don’t think a lot of nations are using biometric scenarios in training. We do individual biometric training here because it is so new. They are training soldiers on the latest biometric technology almost as soon as it comes out and it is available to the units,” he said.
JMRC’s biometric training was showcased to coalition partners from Europe, Canada and Australia at a conference in Hohenfels last week. The goal of the conference was for combat training centers from the various nations to compare best practice for training troops in the war on terrorism, Geisler said
When I read this what runs through my head is all about practicing on them so they can figure out how to do it ‘well’ and then impose it on us in the name of protecting us from terrorism. Let me put the dots together this week we found out that the FBI was using datamining ‘for more then just tracking terrorism.’ What we don’t know is how far the use of these tools go now and how far it will go in the future. Oh and I just got my first “CLEAR” card application while going through San Jose airport. I get to pay them $99 fill out the form – “take your photo and ‘capture’ your biometrics [fingerprint and Iris scan] along with two forms of government identifiecation, one of which must establish that you are a US citizen or permanent foreign resident. A US passport is strongly preferred.” Then your application will be submitted to TSA for a ‘security assessment.’ Once you have been approved for the program we will mail you a Clear card.
So this network is just starting to be built for all of us here in this free land of the United States.
Oh Yeah. As secrutity minded folks have pointed out it doesn’t make our airports more secure – it makes them less secure by giving a low security line – the one that would be terrorists are going to try and penetrate the airport by.
Background checks are based on the dangerous myth that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we could identify everyone. Unfortunately, there isn’t any terrorist profile that prescreening can uncover. Timothy McVeigh could probably have gotten one of these cards. So could have Eric Rudolph, the pipe bomber at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. There isn’t even a good list of known terrorists to check people against; the government list used by the airlines has been the butt of jokes for years.
And have we forgotten how prevalent identity theft is these days? If you think having a criminal impersonating you to your bank is bad, wait until they start impersonating you to the Transportation Security Administration.
The truth is that whenever you create two paths through security — a high-security path and a low-security path — you have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to exploit the low-security path. It may be counterintuitive, but we are all safer if the people chosen for more thorough screening are truly random and not based on an error-filled database or a cursory background check.
These systems and networks can be used to track us for ALL kinds of reasons including really BAD ones just as the Nazi’s did in Germany to track down the people they wanted to exterminate. This may sound ‘extreme’ to worry about this – our government would never do ‘that’ but there are conversations about how to deal with illegal immigrants that include mass deportation. This year the Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. It highlights and important point – it is not that some how…there are a few evil people – it is that all people can turn evil because of the nature of human nature. With these Digital tools and systems about people the capacity to do harm increases. It worries me to have biometric databases of all of us in government hands. It worries me that all this information can be correlated across all my activities relating to government. It worries me it could be correlated to private sector databases about me. I think we have A LOT of work to address the social implications of the tools and systems proposed.