Data and Intelligence

Government Computer News has a couple of telling stories going. Both involve government collaboration with private vendors to develop new ways of using personal information and intelligence.

One story is about All-Source Intelligence Environment, known also as Alien. The Defense Intelligence Agency team behind the project is relying on data analysis tools from Autonomy and Endeca Technologies. It's not clear how big the contract is. But the potential outcome is meaningful -- if you're interested in security, privacy and the war on terror, that is.

"The ultimate benefit of the Alien framework," program manager Ralph Liberati says in the story, "is that it will allow intelligence analysts to 'parse through millions of different intelligence reports to find ones that are relevant and meaningful for the questions they want to answer: the who, what, when and how' related to topics of national security interest."

"You could search on the name of a town [for example], and get all the messages or information related to that town and find relationships you didn't know existed," Liberati is quoted as saying in the story.

The other story describes how the US Visit program -- which is working on a troubled, multibillion effort to collect information about the comings and going of visitors to the U.S. -- collaborated with the U.S. Coast Guard on a system to identify sea-going immigrants trying to get into the country. The "biometrics-at-sea" program relies on the use of cameras and fingerprint readers developed by a contractor called Identix.

The collaboration between the government and the private sector on intelligence, data collection and homeland security is a very big deal. It has been dubbed the security-industrial complex. More on this before long.

http://www.gcn.com/print/26_26/45187-1.html

By Robert O'Harrow |  November 6, 2007; 11:23 AM ET security
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Please help wake up Congress to support Senate Bill 1166.
S. 1166: Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act
S 1166 IS
110th CONGRESS
1st Session
S. 1166
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income certain combat zone compensation of civilian employees of the United States.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
April 19, 2007
Mr. WARNER introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Finance
________________________________________
A BILL
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude from gross income certain combat zone compensation of civilian employees of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Federal Employee Combat Zone Tax Parity Act'.
SEC. 2. EXCLUSION FROM GROSS INCOME FOR CERTAIN COMBAT ZONE COMPENSATION OF CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES.
(a) In General- Section 112 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (relating to certain combat zone compensation of members of the Armed Forces) is amended by redesignating subsections (c) and (d) as subsections (d) and (e), respectively, and by inserting after subsection (b) the following new subsection:
`(c) Civilian Employees of the United States Government-
`(1) IN GENERAL- Gross income does not include so much of the compensation as does not exceed the maximum amount specified in subsection (b) for active service as an employee of the United States for any month during any part of which such employee--
`(A) served in a combat zone, or
`(B) was hospitalized as a result of wounds, disease, or injury incurred while serving in a combat zone; but this subparagraph shall not apply for any month beginning more than 2 years after the date of the termination of combatant activities in such zone.
`(2) DEFINITIONS- For purposes of this subsection--
`(A) EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES- The term `employee of the United States' has the meaning given such term by section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, and includes--
`(i) an individual in the commissioned corps of the Public Health Service or the commissioned corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and
`(ii) an individual not otherwise described in the preceding provisions of this subparagraph who is treated as an employee of the United States or an agency thereof for purposes of section 911(b).
`(B) ACTIVE SERVICE- The term `active service' means active Federal service by an employee of the United States.'.
(b) Conforming Amendments-
(1) Section 2201(b) of such Code is amended by striking `112(c)' both places it appears and inserting `112(d)'.
(2) The heading for section 112 of such Code is amended to read as follows:
`SEC. 112. CERTAIN COMBAT ZONE COMPENSATION OF MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE UNITED STATES.'.
(3) The item relating to section 112 in the table of sections for part III of subchapter B of chapter 1 of such Code is amended to read as follows:
`Sec. 112. Certain combat zone compensation of members of the Armed Forces and civilian employees of the United States.'.
(c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after the date of the enactment of this Act.

Tahnk you

Posted by: Dave Craddock | November 8, 2007 3:45 AM

You're off-base in your story from its very premise, at least as far as the DIA all-source program is concerned. You characterize it as being "about new ways of using personal information" and warn of its "potential" impact on "privacy." You couldn't be more wrong - it is used on information about non-US persons only, valid intelligence targets. Both the law and strict oversight enforce this.

What's your reason for wanting to protect the privacy of non-US persons engaging in potential terrorist threats against US interests?

Posted by: Professional intelligence officer | November 8, 2007 6:24 AM

A more valid concern is that many of these projects have been very lucrative for the technology vendors, while flushing millions of tax dollars down the figurative toilet when nothing sustainable was delivered.

It's obscene how unaccountable these projects are to the citizens they are supposed to protect.

Posted by: upstate111 | November 8, 2007 3:42 PM

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