Sunday, September 07, 2008

SELECT * FROM policies WHERE irishash="0xSTUPID";

Late to the party, I know. But is this the worst example of biometrics as a religion yet? So the Shia-led, pro-Iranian government of Iraq we're desperately propping up doesn't like the Sunni, Iraqi chauvinist countergangs we organised to prop them up much. So the plan to reintegrate them, as they say, into society as law-abiding citizens ain't going so well. (Ah, Sergeant Hussein? You know how we invaded your country, overthrew the dictator, then dissolved the army you spent the last 15 years in and left you to rot on the dole while we conspired with your despised religious and class enemies? And we finally agreed to enrol you and your old mates as an auxiliary police force because we couldn't catch you? Well, thanks, we're doing it again. Yes, the first bit. Have you considered becoming a plumber? Please don't use any metalworking skills you may acquire to make EFPs, that's all we ask.)

Worse, yer man is now trying to pick a fight with the Kurds, in which case they will no doubt retaliate by grabbing Sgt Hussein's home town and telling the government in Baghdad it can't have any more oil. As a lot of the army Maliki counts on for this is actually the Kurdish army, there's a lot more that can go wrong here. So what's the plan B?

Apparently it's biometrics. All those ex-insurgents from the NOIA who signed up on our side were iris-scanned, and the information something or other with Saddam's old secret police files. Hey, I remember that the secret police files got torched. Except for the bits involving George Galloway and various other people who all by coincidence opposed the war. And the ones the Chalabi Boys nicked and the US Army had to nick back; there's a lot of different data sets wandering about, no? Of course, there's absolutely no point in looking for Sunni Arab nationalist ex-army insurgents in Saddam's old files; it was Sunni Arab nationalist army officers who compiled Saddam's old files in the first place. Perhaps they mean the Republican Guard payroll, but who knows, eh.

Anyway, the biometrics. How is this meant to help? Specifically, the iris scans. Now, if you make a bomb, your irises don't leave any traces on it. Iris-scanning implies you've caught the guy already and you want to check if he's on the list. And the point of guerrilla warfare is that the enemy doesn't know who to lock up, or else they can't catch up with them, or the people they are after hide out somewhere they'll need to stage a huge multidivisional onslaught and probably build a railway to get into. I mean, it's got to be better than having absolutely no information, but it's no solution, especially if the data is mashed up with the wrong kind of intelligence files. (Ah, Sergeant Al-Hakim. You must be proud of your years of heroic resistance to Baathist tyranny...)

It's as if they believe that having an MD5 hash of someone's iris means you can double-click on their photo and they're delivered to your desk like an package; or that the camera will take your soul. But then, every government thinks this, at least some of the time. Which reminds me:
The immigration minister, Liam Byrne, promised yesterday to start issuing ID cards to foreign nationals within 300 days - by November 2008. The first required to apply will be students and those married to British citizens or involved in civil partnerships or long-term relationships.
Seven weeks to go. No contracts. No requirements document. No specs. No code. Someone's in for an epic binge-coding session, aren't they? Or is "Teh Stupid! It's Byrne's!" hoping we've all forgotten? Maybe NO2ID should put in a bid itself...

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