TO HOMELAND SECURITY ON REAL ID: NO THANKS
PART 2 of 2
By Steven Yates
May 11, 2008
Governor Sanford goes on to note, third, that REAL ID will “substantially raise wait times at DMV offices across our state, and this will also result in productivity losses that have not been quantified in any DHS estimates.” Indeed, those states fully in compliance can expect long lines; their citizens will wait sometimes for hours, and may have to make return trips if they don’t have the correct documents when they finally get to a clerk.
Fourth, “REAL ID represents another step against a limited federal government.” The biggest threat to liberty, Sanford argues correctly from history, is “in a central government that is too powerful.” Our federal government had clearly gotten too powerful before the 9/11 attacks, and its power has grown by quantum leaps and bounds since then. Sanford continues:
“REAL ID upsets the balance of power between the federal government and the states by coercing the states into creating a national ID system for federal purposes. Given its requirement to board a plane or enter a federal building, it would also change the balance of power in something as seemingly insignificant as a visit to a member of Congress. As a former member of the U.S. Congress, I had countless meetings with constituents whose personal details I knew nothing about—and this was a good thing. Their background was not the issue, my stand on a given matter was. The First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to assemble and petition their government, and in it there has never been a qualification that said, ‘Only if you have a REAL ID card.’ On this, I think it would be best to let the Founding Fathers original work stand.”
Along these same lines, the scope of REAL ID once implemented could expand at federal will. Sanford quotes from DHS’s final rule handed down in January, that DHS “will continue to consider additional ways in which a REAL ID license can or should be used and will implement any changes to the definition of ‘official purpose’ or determinations regarding additional uses for REAL ID.”
This opens the door to new federal mandates regarding REAL ID that weren’t in the REAL ID Act. Policy makers at DHS have already intimated that a REAL ID could be required to buy cold medicine and for employment verification—such policies could easily be expanded to include requiring REAL ID for legal medical treatment and legal employment in this country. REAL ID would be replacing the social security number which itself had not been intended for most of the uses to which it is put today.
Fifth, Sanford observes the vulnerabilities of a “national computer network of driver’s license databases that can be accessed by all states and the federal government ...” dangerous because “central depositories have never proven to be great bulwarks in the world of security.” He observes further that “In May 2006, roughly 27 million veterans had personal information compromised when a Department of Veterans Affairs laptop was stolen from an employee. It was later determined that the employee violated agency policies both for storing the information and taking the laptop.”
Just recently, all three leading candidates for the presidency—John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama—had their private passport files accessed without official authorization by State Department contract employees. This is hard evidence of how easy it is for anyone with the information-systems know-how to penetrate these systems. Can you really believe your REAL ID information would be safe (particularly from low-paid, low-echelon security bureaucrats who might believe they could profit from stealing and then selling your data)?
For such reasons REAL ID increases, instead of decreases, the risk of identity theft.
Finally, READ ID will not protect Americans from foreign terrorists. “A terrorist could get a passport from a third world country and travel on it instead. Before we spend these monies, I think we should carefully look at ways to close this and other REAL ID loopholes.” Moreover, “in a recent U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit case, it was conceded that a person doesn’t need any identification to fly, as long as they are subject to alternative screening. If a traveler with sinister intent is determined to fly on a commercial aircraft, I find it implausible they would go through the steps detailed in the REAL ID, when they could get on the same plane with nothing more than a pat-down screening.”
I do not know whether Governor Sanford knows of an effort to give us all national ID cards by stealth back in the 1990s—in an omnibus legislative package Bill Clinton signed in 1996. This effectively debunks the idea that protecting Americans from terrorism is the purpose of REAL ID. The 1996 effort, which would have gone into effect in November 2000, was finally repealed following an extensive grassroots campaign conducted via the Internet. That was before 9/11, of course. The power elite has wanted a national identification system in this country for quite some time now, and there should have been no doubt that something like this would emerge in the wake of 9/11. (And again, is there really any doubt why we believe there are conspiracies—and why many people do not believe the government’s conspiracy theory regarding those attacks?)
Governor Sanford’s letter concludes: “[I]t is important that we … always remember that America’s greatest homeland security rests in liberty.”
Ah, yes, that forgotten concept!
Interestingly, Chertoff “responded” to Governor Sanford’s letter by also granting South Carolina an extension the letter did not ask for. Just as with Montana. Chertoff’s response indicated that in his judgment, Governor Sanford indicated that South Carolina was already taking steps toward “material compliance.” Perhaps he did not read past the second paragraph where Sanford points out, “[DHS] has recognized that South Carolina has coincidentally met more than 90 percent of REAL ID’s requirements—well ahead of the projected implementation deadlines and far in advance of many other states. As a result of this work, we now electronically verify social security numbers of license applicants with the Social Security Administration; we require applicants to provide documents to verify citizenship or show authorized presence in this country; we tie the validity of licenses to the length of authorized stay in the U.S.; we provide our employees with AAMVA-approved fraudulent document training; we have a documented exceptions process; and we have now enhanced the physical security of our field offices.”
There is more that South Carolina has done without help from the feds, but it does not equate to REAL ID. South Carolina had not, that is, bowed meekly before the feds. Nor have other states; truth be known, the only reason several of the others—Oklahoma is an example—asked for an extension was to buy time. One suspects that Chertoff and his minions are in denial about the rebellion occurring outside the Beltway. Be that as it may, the ball is again in Homeland Security’s court—with D-Day now moved safely back to May 11, 2011. (The dollar may have collapsed by then; martial law may have been declared; the entire national landscape may have been altered beyond recognition—but that’s another column.)
We are a long way from being out of the woods on this. The best thing that could happen is for Congress to convene a special session in the near future, put together a bill taking account of the objections to REAL ID, and repeal this turkey before it creates havoc at DMVs over the country as well as brings about systemic punishment for those of us who refuse to comply. The only way to accomplish this is to elect a Congress that is both sufficiently informed and willing to turn the tide against REAL ID at the federal level.
I have no doubt that otherwise, DHS will ultimately be able to force compliance. It will get help from corporate America, especially the mass media and financial institutions. Here is how it will work: despite the defiance coming from both the grassroots and state governors, a majority of America’s masses still have not heard of REAL ID. The mindset here is that what isn’t on TV or doesn’t affect them directly, doesn’t exist or at least is somebody else’s problem. If a given state refuses to comply, its masses will feel blindsided when airport security no longer accepts their driver’s licenses or social security cards as valid for identification purposes. Corporate-owned big city newspapers will immediately publish a stream of lead op-eds bemoaning the situation with a “We told our Governor and state legislators to comply!” If banks stop opening accounts, or if jobseekers can’t produce the ID prospective employers suddenly want, the state will find itself with a major situation on its hands.
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Here in South Carolina, where government schools stopped teaching about the Constitution long ago, a sizeable fraction of the public will stupidly turn its wrath on people like Governor Sanford, on the General Assembly, and on us “conspiracy nuts” instead of questioning the federal government’s increasing bids for unchecked power. What? Question the federal government? It’s the government, after all! DHS is going to keep us safe from all those big bad terrorists, right? All we have to do is give them more power! For part one click below.
Click here for part -----> 1,
� 2007 Steven Yates - All Rights Reserved