|The author at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. in 2009.|
The Drive draws the reader to its article with the bold title and subtitle of, “Identity Intel Ops” Turn US Special Operators Into Combat Detectives – Personal data, fingerprints, DNA, and more all help lead elite forces to their next target.” If the “Special Operators” didn’t work in attracting attention, the addition of “Combat Detectives” and “elite forces” probably did.
People who read the story are likely to be enthralled with the lengthy article, which cites a U.S. Special Operations Command document (obtained through the Freedom of Information Act), mentions the Joint Special Operations Command, references military operations (including the one that killed Osama bin Laden), uses lots of military jargon, has extensive links to other sources, and includes paragraphs like the following that appear to be revealing previously secret information.
The actual tasks sound a lot like something straight from an episode of a procedural crime drama on television. The document outlines six specific types of identity intelligence elite forces should be looking to gather at all times: biometric live scans, latent prints, DNA, facial images, trace materials, and documents and media. This information can be taken from individuals and sites that U.S. special operators in the course of “sensitive site exploitations” during operations, as well as from any potential person of interest, local employee, or foreign national who comes onto a facility run by elite forces at home or abroad. . . .
Still, the official descriptions make it clear that, if the circumstances at all allow it, elite troops are supposed to be collecting a significant amount of data. The biometric live scan, intended to be collected from living person as its name implies, sounds particularly comprehensive. The full profile includes full, rolled prints of all of the subject’s 10 fingers, scans of both of their irises, and a frontal view photograph. If “time and bandwidth are constrained” – all of this data is subsequently uploaded digitally to a central point for analysis – special operators may only take quick, flat prints and a photograph instead.
Sounds like it’s exciting and groundbreaking news, doesn’t it? But it is not.