Friday, July 13, 2007

Perspective: Hi-tech identification effort crosses entire war zone

Above: A Marine uses a retina scanner to positively identify a member of the Baghdad city council prior to a meeting with U.S. officers in January.

The Iraqi man who walked into Marine Cpl. Thomas Rigney's tent one recent morning appeared harmless, until he handed over the ID card that Marines gave him a year ago.

Waving the card at a scanner, Rigney opened the military's "personal data report" for Amar Salaman onto a laptop and saw trouble.

The screen showed a photo of Salaman in an orange jumpsuit that is worn by detainees here. The message next to "On alert?" read, "Yes, assault/attack on CF" — coalition forces.

"Anyone that we have any reason to monitor is in here," Rigney said.

The U.S. military is increasingly combating the Iraqi insurgency with a non-lethal yet effective weapon: identification. U.S. troops are creating a database with hundreds of thousands of records of Iraqi adult males, which they can use to conduct quick background checks and identify potential troublemakers.

Read the rest at USA Today