House passes national ID card legislation

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11097794012111.jpg’, ”, ‘U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo’);

Big Brother is coming closer and preparing to grip us more tightly. The U.S. House last week passed legislation called the “Real ID Act.”

The vote was 261-161, with mainly Republicans supporting the measure. Area congressman, U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo (R-16) voted for the bill.

The new rules would allow federal employees (bureaucrats) to reject any licenses or identity cards that don’t meet the new standards. That could curb access to airplanes, trains, national parks, federal courthouses and other areas under federal control. Some have said the next step may be checkpoints at state lines, manned by specially trained and heavily armed troops.

This legislation says driver’s licenses and other ID must incorporate a digital photo of the holder, anti-counterfeiting features and unspecified “machine-readable technology with defined minimum data elements,” which could include a magnetic strip or a Radio Frequency ID tag.

All these features will be put together and spelled out by the Department of Homeland Security.

Republicans argued these new procedures are needed to foil terrorists, and noted that four of the 9/11 hijackers had valid driver’s licenses. U.S. Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.), said: “When I get on an airplane and someone shows ID, I’d like to be sure they are who they say they are.”

If finally passed, this new regulation would require states to demand proof of the person’s Social Security number and confirm that number with the Social Security Administration. States also would have to scan in documents showing the individual’s birth date, immigration status and other information.

Additionally, the states would be mandated to create a database of this data “so that the (scanned) images can be permanently retained in electronic storage in a transferable format.”

State motor vehicle departments would be required to link their databases to the federal government if they want to get federal funds. What information would be shared? All data on driver’s licenses and ID cards, and complete driver histories, including traffic violations, suspensions and points on licenses.

The Bush administration has pushed strongly for this bill. The Real ID Act has been defined by some conservatives and civil liberties organizations as the same as a national ID card. Britain has already instituted such a program. The White House last week said it “strongly supports House passage” of the bill. About 95 percent of House Republicans supported it. The measure was prepared by U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

Gun rights groups and civil libertarians condemned the bill before the vote. The ACLU said the new rules amount to a “de facto national ID card,” and that it would force “states to deny driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants” and would make state motor vehicle department employees serve as agents of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Firearms groups said because ID is required to buy a gun from a dealer, the bill, according to Gun Owners of America, amounts to a “bureaucratic back door to implementation of a national ID card.” The GOA warned the legislation would “empower the federal government to determine who can get a driver’s license–and under what conditions” (

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