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In the method, there is madness; in the comedy, nightmare; in the tragedy, farce.
And despite everything, there’s still good news when it comes to what Americans can accomplish in the face of the impossible! No, not a debt-ceiling deal in Washington. So much better than that.
According to Thom Shanker of the New York Times, the US military has gathered biometric data—“digital scans of eyes, photographs of the face, and fingerprints”—on 2.2 million Iraqis and 1.5 million Afghans, with an emphasis on men of an age to become insurgents, and has saved all of it in the Automated Biometric Information System, a vast computerized database. Imagine: we’re talking about one of every fourteen Iraqis and one of every twenty Afghans. Who says America’s a can’t-do nation?
The Pentagon is pouring an estimated $3.5 billion into its biometric programs (2007 through 2015). And though it’s been a couple of rough weeks when it comes to money in Washington, at least no one can claim that taxpayer dollars have been ill-spent on this project. Give the Pentagon just another five to ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan and the biometric endeavor of a lifetime should be complete. Then Washington will be able to identify any Iraqi or Afghan on the planet by eye-scan alone.
Be proud, America!
And consider that feat a bright spot of American accomplishment (and not the only one either) in a couple of weeks of can’t-do news from the Greater Middle East. After all, despite those biometric scans, an assassin managed to gun down Our Man in Kandahar (OMK), Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Afghan president’s half-brother, in his own residence. He was the warlord the US military buddied up with as US troops were surging south in 2009 and who helped bring American-style “progress” to the Taliban heartland.
Of course, before he was OMK and our great ally in southern Afghanistan, he was OEK (Our Enemy in Kandahar), the down-and-dirty, election-fixing, drug-running evil dude whom one American military official more or less threatened to take out. (“The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone” was the way that Major General Michael Flynn, the top US military intelligence officer in the country, put it at the time.) And before he was OEK, he was CMK (the CIA’s Man in Kandahar), right up there on the agency’s payroll; and even before that, speaking of Chicago, he was a restaurateur in that city who… but I’m losing track of my point, as Americans have a knack for doing in Afghanistan.