Editorial: Congress sneaks through national ID card

Another chunk of your freedom has vanished. On May 11, House Resolution 1268 became Public Law 109-13. With it comes the advent of a national ID card and further restrictions on your mobility.

The Senate voted unanimously for passage of this bill, which further mangles the Constitution and paves the way for a police state. The way this measure was passed was one of the sneakier maneuvers of the Congress. It was attached to a military appropriations bill meant to provide necessary equipment and aid to our servicemen and women.

Had this portion of the bill been a separate piece of legislation, it likely would not have passed. The vote in the House was close, 261-161. Majority leadership in the Senate knew that none of its members would vote against a bill to supply and assist our military, and since most congressmen and senators only read brief, general summaries of the legislation before them, the ID card portion would easily slip by.

Among the designers of this internal passport scheme are two former KGB chiefs, Primakov and Karpov, hardly an American democratic approach to this matter. Numerous members of Congress opposed this measure but still voted for it (newswithviews.com).

So, what’s so bad about this provision attached to the $82 billion military spending bill? It includes the Real ID Act. What does that do?

Beginning in three years, if you live and work in this country, you must have a national ID card if you want to open a bank account, take an airplane, board a bus or drive a car. State driver’s licenses and certain other documents will no longer be accepted unless they meet the criteria of the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS will set the standards and decide if state driver’s licenses and other ID cards are acceptable. Only DHS-approved ID cards can be used “for any official purpose.”

These new cards will be issued through state motor vehicle departments. You will need a “photo identity document,” proof of your birthdate and address and verify your Social Security number is what you say it is. Foreigners will need a valid visa.

These identity cards will be digitized by each state’s DMV and permanently stored. The cards will continue your name, birthdate, sex, ID number, digital photo, address, and “machine-readable technology” to be decided by Homeland Security. In addition, the card must incorporate security features to prevent tampering or counterfeiting of the card.

Backers of this move claim it is needed to fight terrorists. That was the same argument used to ram through the Patriot Act, a measure that has been used against common lawbreakers, terrorists and citizens, alike.

The ID legislation was sponsored by Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., who has pushed other anti-citizen legislation in the past year. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, warned that this law “gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally add requirements as he sees fit.” Paul was one of only three Republicans to vote against the bill. The others were Howard Coble of North Carolina and John Duncan of Tennessee.

President George W. Bush supports the move and has issued an official endorsement. In July 2002, Bush spoke of assisting “the states in crafting solutions to curtail the future abuse of driver’s licenses by terrorist organizations.” Under the Patriot Act, terrorists are anyone the government says is a terrorist, you or me or our neighbors.

For states, the fun part of all these new requirements is that they will receive no assistance from the federal government. Yes, it’s another unfunded federal mandate.

This July, the government will begin a year-long test of electronically readable card technology at check points in Arizona, Washington state and New York. Can such checkpoints in every state be far behind? “May we see your papers, please? Say, ‘Yavoll!’”

Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU’s Technology and Liberty program, said: “It’s going to be not just a national ID card but a national database.” Steinhardt said there may be a court challenge of the legislation (c/netnews.com).

If so, they certainly should use references to Stalin, the Gestapo and George Orwell’s 1984 in their legal arguments.

From the June 15-21, 2005, issue

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