Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The DOD has collected tens of thousands of DNA samples from suspects in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere as part of the GWOT... They are maintained in the Joint Federal Agencies Antiterrorism DNA Database. Additional biometric information is collected, including fingerprints, iris scans, etc. The intent is to use these for identification, access control, etc.

The GAO did a study (Ed note: pdf file) to look at the collection and sharing (e.g. with intelligence services, ICE, etc.) of this data, and found that although "... DOD has issued guidance specifying the biometrics data to be collected on individuals who are detained or allowed access to U.S. bases in Iraq..." it has "... not issued guidance specifying a standard set of data to be collected during field activities...", leaving the decision re if and what to collect to the commanders in the field. The GAO concluded that this is an issue, since it reduces the utility of the system (e.g. the commander in the field collects an iris scan, while the central database has a non-matching biometric marker e.g. a fingerprint) ...