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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

#6 - JRL 7213
June 6, 2003
Russian Interests Vs. American National Security
Russian immigrants work for the American security

The Central Intelligence Agency experiences a strong need in up-to-date technological developments, such as powerful search engines, mini-sensors, reliable computer security systems. At present, the CIA starts using new forms of cooperation with the private sector. Until recently, a special state research laboratory had to be established to obtain necessary technologies, contracts had to be concluded with corporations. Nowadays, under the conditions of fast technological changes, it was decided to invest state funds in young companies of the Silicon Valley. The CIA believes that this cooperation will help to obtain the technologies that will leave their analogues behind. The previous state order system was not good, because new developments often turned outdated by the time when they were delivered to a customer.

To put the new system in effect, the CIA founded a venture-capital organization In-Q-Tel , a non-profitable company, in the beginning of the year 2000. The US Congress assigned $27 million for the company. Thirty-four million dollars more were assigned later in April of 2000. The organization's mission is to determine leading American technologies, bring them to the commercial stage and make them work for the needs of the CIA. That was the prime goal of the company, although invested firms would be aimed at meeting the market demand on the whole. The goal of every firm, in which the organization invested its money, was to develop a prototype within 12 months and put a product to the market within 18 months. The fund has already invested eight projects. The last one of them was the project of the company PDH from the Silicon Valley. The company develops the software, which is capable of tracing and controlling the transmission of the digital information.

The CIA and In-Q-Tel has recently attracted attention of the press. The CIA sponsors the company that was founded by a Russian immigrant. The company develops an up-to-date image recognition system, which allows intelligence officers to sift millions of images and even video pictures. The California-based company PiXlogic LLC has recently received an order from the CIA to develop the promising image recognition system of the new generation, Russian NY news agency reports. One of the founders of the company was Vladimir Troyankin, a Russian citizen, who immigrated in the USA in 1998.

However, existing systems like that have already proved to be absolutely inefficient, but the CIA needs to have the system that would allow to efficiently recognize car numbers depicted on photographs, or to distinguish a flying helicopter from a bird, for example. It would be also good to recognize people's faces on photos or video tapes.

The new system has been ordered by the non-commercial organization In-Q-Tel. The sum of the contract has not been exposed, but spokespeople for the organization say that such orders cost $500,000 or $2,5 million. One has to give the USA credit - the country has managed to create the new national security concept, whereas Russia has not learnt any lessons from 9/11 terror attacks.

On October 29th, 2002, President Vladimir Putin entrusted Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov with preparing a new variant of the national security concept. It happened right after the hostage crisis in Moscow (when Chechen terrorists took hundreds of hostages in the Moscow music theatre). "The terrorist threat for Russia is growing," said the minister after talking to the president. So, where is the concept?

The whole issue was brought down to a simple declaration - to make the Russian Army the contract army. Generals asked for a huge sum for the implementation of the task. Well-known Russian politician Boris Nemtsov said that the sum of one million rubles was too high for the defense ministry to spend it on every Russian contractual serviceman a year. Nemtsov believes that 200,000 rubles would be enough: "Generals have included everything in the military spending estimate: repairing test grounds, purchasing new arms, building apartments. Yet, it has nothing to do with making the Russian Army a contract-based army," said Boris Nemtsov. Furthermore, the politician reminded that generals were intended to spend 137 billion rubles on the army reform, but then they changed the figure to 94 billion.

What security can there be, if senior officials want to take care of their own financial well-being first and foremost? The issue of Russia's defensive capacity has been pushed into the background. American tax payers know, where their money goes, and so do Russian tax payers. At least, one may guess, where it goes.

Yegor Belous

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