Then, us reporters need to be issued IDs. Which means getting a scan of your index finger, and a having a standard, passport-style picture taken. At two-thirty in the morning, it took seven tries to get a shot where I didn't look stoned out of my mind. After that, they take scans of both your irises. Five more headshots – for the facial recognition software. And scans of all ten fingerprints. Finally, I'm approved as an accredited member of the press in Iraq. Just that easy.
Then there is the experience of the general population, in places like Fallujah, who actually seem to have a slightly easier time of things:
The Marines have walled off Fallujah, and closed the city’s roads to traffic. The only way in is to have a badge. And the only way to get a badge is to have Marines snap your picture, scan your irises, and take all ten of your fingerprints. Only then can you get into the city.
That’s just one approach in one location, however. The various biometric projects that Shachman describes seem disconnected and sub-optimized on a number of levels. There is no single biometric database, for instance, and even if it existed, it would be too large for the hand-held devices used by the Marines. And in Baghdad, they have another problem:
Back in Baghdad, they're running a biometric badge system – based on Saddam’s old fingerprint records -- to check on the backgrounds of Iraqi security forces. (Which brings up the question, is a criminal in Saddam’s eyes a bad guy – or a good one?)
More stories and insight at Noah’s blog.