Tech glitches stymie U.S. fingerprinting

Oct. 27, 2004 at 9:15 AM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Incompatible fingerprinting technology and databases are thwarting U.S. anti-terror operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the New York Times said Wednesday.

While the problem was first brought to light in February, the director of the Defense Department's Biometrics Management Office, John Woodward said improvements are still needed.

In the field, the Defense Department has used a mobile system that records fingerprints of suspects, but it cannot always search for a match in other government databases, the newspaper said.

Ink pads and paper were used by FBI agents who first went to Afghanistan in November 2001, said Michael Kirkpatrick, who recently retired as head of the FBI's criminal information system. Eventually, both in Iraq and Afghanistan, the FBI also used systems that electronically took 10 fingerprints and met global standards. Those customized portable units cost $10,000 each. Meanwhile, the Pentagon was using its own system, the Biometrics Automated Toolset, or BAT, developed by the Army.

A defense official who asked not to be identified said at least 16,000 fingerprints had gone unprocessed because of the incompatibilities.

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