If Sadr City's housing projects have a Shiite version of the drug crew from HBO's "The Wire," now might be a good time for them to switch to new phones. The U.S. Air Force has put out a call to small businesses to provide wiretapping capabilities for the Iraqi police. The system would focus on cellular communication and providing anti-crime capability as much as anti-insurgency capability.
Know as "lawful intercept" (LI), the system the Air Force wants to set up would track cellphone users' locations, keep tabs on a minimum of 5,000 calls at once and automatically build a database of connections between players in the game. The system will not only record voice traffic, but monitor texts as well, meaning any scheming Greeks should watch out too. Even more impressive, the system will automatically alert police if it detects two or more targets moving within close geographical distance of one another.
"LI will provide the Government of Iraq a powerful communications intelligence tool to assist in combating criminal organizations and insurgencies by supporting evidence-based prosecutions, warrant-based targeting, and intelligence-based operations," reads the online solicitation on the Federal Business Opportunities website.
The U.S. has spent a lot of time and money transforming the Iraqi police from a tool of Baathist oppression into a modern force for law and order. However, local police forces have not advanced as quickly as the national police or the Army. Constant complaints about police corruption and rumors of Sadrist infiltration continue to this day, calling into question whether or not the police might use advanced wiretapping against political enemies instead of the criminal gangs the system was designed to monitor.
The online solicitation does not specify the cost of the system. Nor does it specify when the Air Force hopes to get the system up and running, although it does include a fast timetable that envisions the system becoming operational within a year of finalizing the contract. The contract includes training as well as equipment, with Americans teaching the Iraqis how to use the technology, and, hopefully, the Iraqis teaching the Americans the Arabic translation for "where's Wallace!?"
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