Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

June 6, 2008

New White House Directive on Biometric Data Issued

Filed under: Intelligence and Info-Sharing,Privacy and Security — by Jonah Czerwinski on June 6, 2008

Yesterday the White House issued a new directive intended to coordinate efforts by Federal departments and agencies to collect, store, use, analyze, and share biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of “known and suspected terrorists.”

The joint national security and homeland security directive, known as NSPD-59/HSPD-24, seeks to enhance government capabilities in managing biometric data about suspected terrorists. This directive refers to a “Federal framework for applying existing and emerging biometric technologies to the collection, storage, use, analysis, and sharing of data in identification and screening processes.” The framework is intended to better structure the various federal efforts focused on biometric identification for national security purposes as part of “a layered approach to identification and screening of individuals.”

This dovetails well with the post earlier this week about the discussion with Patty Cogswell of the DHS Screening Coordiantion Office. Note also the potential relationship between this directive and efforts underway at the FBI (Next Generation Identification) and at DHS (Biometric Storage System).

The following orders, directives, and strategy documents bear on this directive’s implementation:
• Executive Order 12881 (Establishment of the National Science and Technology Council);
• Homeland Security Presidential Directive 6 (HSPD 6) (Integration and Use of Screening Information to Protect Against Terrorism);
• Executive Order 13354 (National Counterterrorism Center);
• Homeland Security Presidential Directive 11 (HSPD 11) (Comprehensive Terrorist Related Screening Procedures);
• Executive Order 13388 (Further Strengthening the Sharing of Terrorism Information to Protect Americans);
• National Security Presidential Directive 46/Homeland Security Presidential Directive 15 (NSPD-46/HSPD-15) (U.S. Policy and Strategy in the War on Terror);
• 2005 Information Sharing Guidelines;
• 2006 National Strategy for Combating Terrorism;
• 2006 National Strategy to Combat Terrorist Travel;
• 2007 National Strategy for Homeland Security;
• 2007 National Strategy for Information Sharing; and
• 2008 United States Intelligence Community Information Sharing Strategy.

The main thrust behind HSPD-24 is an intention to make all biometric and associated biographic and contextual information of threatening persons available to all agencies. Sounds sweeping. The HSPD does make explicit that the scope here is to enable information sharing across the Executive branch, not to collect more biometric data. That the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism is the primary person responsible for “interagency policy coordination on all aspects of this directive,” this may not mean much. That position has been vacant since last year.

UPDATE: The day before I wrote this post the President named Fran Townsend’s successor. Thomas P. Bossert is the new Deputy Assistant to the President for Homeland Security. This is a promotion from his job as Special Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Senior Director for Preparedness Policy. Bossert also served as Director of Infrastructure Policy on the HSC staff and, before that, as Deputy Director in the Office of Legislative Affairs at DHS’s former Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

June 9, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

Who is the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism? I ask because I believe that was Fran Townshend’s title!

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