CIA looks online for WMDs

The CIA has turned to the Internet for help in its search for weapons of mass destruction

The CIA has turned to the Internet in its search for Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, and has posted an advert for information leading to the discovery of such weapons.

The US security agency has built a secure online form on its Web site to allow anyone to supply information about weapons of mass destruction, the current location of Ba'thist party leaders and any other "relevant information".

The site asks visitors who have "information relating to Iraq which you believe might be of interest to the US Government" to "contact us through our secure online form". It promises to "carefully protect all information you provide, including your identity."

The CIA is especially interested in hearing from anyone that knows the "location of stocks of recently made chemical or biological weapons munitions. The location of chemical or biological laboratories." Additionally, it would like to know about "weapons system plans, military orders or other relevant documents about biological and chemical weapons."

The US government has paid greater attention to the Internet after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, 2001. In 2002 it announced the Homeland Security Department, which was the largest federal reorganisation since the Defense Department was formed in 1947. The new department gave the government a major role in securing operating systems, hardware and the Internet, including allowing for more police surveillance of the Net; punishing malicious computer hackers with up to life in prison; establishing a national clearinghouse for computer and network security work; and spending at least half a billion dollars a year on homeland security research.

Earlier this month, President Bush proposed a $2.4tn (£1.32tn) federal budget that boosts spending on information technology and on computer crime investigation. In a letter to Congress accompanying the proposed budget, Bush said that federal spending on information technology would grow to $59.8bn, up slightly from the $59.1bn requested last year. The Defense Department takes a large portion, with a proposed $27.4bn, followed by the Department of Health and Human Services with $5bn and the Department of Homeland Security at $4.4bn.

CNET News.com's Declan McCullagh contributed to this report

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