Morning Security Brief: Biometric Technology Advances, White House Drug Control Strategy, Interview with Hezbollah, and More

By Carlton Purvis

 ►NIST researchers evaluated iris recognition technology from 11 different organizations and found that taking pictures of eyes is becoming easier and some techniques produce very rapid results, but often at the cost of accuracy. NIST tested each organization’s software algorithms by having them identify individuals from a databases of 2.2 million people. “Accuracy varied substantially across the algorithms the NIST team tested. Success rates ranged between 90 and 99 percent among the algorithms, meaning that no software was perfect, and some produced as many as 10 times more errors than others. Also, the tests found that while some algorithms would be fast enough to run through a dataset equivalent to the size of the entire U.S. population in less than 10 seconds using a typical computer, there could be limitations to their accuracy. A related NIST report showed that accuracy could be improved if operators control image collection more tightly during acquisition, thereby obtaining better quality iris images,” according to a NIST press release published on Tuesday.

►The Office of National Drug Control Policy this week released the White House 2012 National Drug Control Strategy. The strategy “rejects the false choice between an enforcement-centric ‘war on drugs’ on the one hand and the notion of drug legalization on the other.” It outlines calls for reforms in seven areas, including integrating treatment for substance use disorders into healthcare, disrupting domestic drug trafficking and production, and improving information systems to better analyze, assess, and locally address drug use and its consequences. It also provides a review of progress made in the last year on those topics.

►Wikileaks founder Julian Assange unveiled a new talk show on RT on Tuesday. In his first interview, Assange spoke with Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah by video link. Assange is still under house arrest in the United Kingdom. Hassan is on the list of high-value targets for Israel. “On his talk show Mr. Assange was a little stiff but sounded rational, didn’t talk much about himself, and asked Mr. Nasrallah some tough questions about Hezbollah’s support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. He even cited reports, found by WikiLeaks, that suggested corruption and high living among some members of Hezbollah,” the New York Times reports. Watch the full interview with Nasrallah here

►In other news, an investigation finds that the Cook County Illinois homeland security chief and other officials skirted hiring rules to employ friends and family members. ♦ A 17-year-old sexual assault victim who was put in jail on a material witness warrant has been released and the judge gave an apology. Prosecutors say the girl is a key witness, but also a flight risk. She will be monitored by a GPS tracking device. ♦ And experts say weapons training should be required for citizens seeking gun permits.





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