We are, after all, for the first time in our history actually creating a national identification card with all the ramifications of that.
...[W]e didn't have the opportunity to say anything about it over here in the Senate. Now, we are not always the wisest people in Washington, DC, but we have half the say. The REAL ID Act came up in the House of Representatives. (Thanks to Mr. Sensenbrenner et al. - JR.)
Fortunately, we have time to stop and think about it, because while the law has been passed, it is not implemented yet.
If I were sitting back in Nashville, I would say: Well, now, Madam Congressman or Mr. Congressman, you are not going to expect me to take 3 or 4 million Tennesseans and run them through the State driver's license offices and find out if they are terrorists or if they are illegally here, or send them back home to grandma's attic and dig up their birth certificates, are you? I mean how many Tennesseans have their birth certificates handy? How many want to go back to the driver's license office and stand in line? That is a lot of people, 3 or 4 million people, and that is only Tennessee. There are over 196 million people with driver's licenses in the United States.
We have a right in America to be skeptical of national identification cards. We love liberty more than anything in this country, and that could infringe on our liberty. We have seen what happened in South Africa when people carried around passports and they were classified based on race, and their lives, their activities, everything about them was regulated that way.
We can think back on Nazi Germany and other totalitarian countries where so much information was on a single card that it gave the Government a good chance to keep up with every single person.
I have changed my mind after 9/11. I believe we need a national identification card of some kind...(So, my question is answered: Freedom cannot stand in the face of terror... Alexander seems willing to try to do in a nice way what the "Nazis" and "other totalitarians" did.- JR)
Let's think about any privacy issues that might result from a de facto national identification card, and let's even make sure, if we are going to have an identification card, that the idea of using driver's licenses is the best way to do it.
As my last comment, I would underscore the fact that there are a number of States already considering taking the action Maine has already taken, the Senator's State, in passing a resolution rejecting the REAL ID card. Those are Hawaii, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Washington State. If the REAL ID card were to go into effect in those States in May, next spring, and they didn't have the REAL ID card, according to the law they can't fly on a commercial airplane. Well, that is going to create a situation I don't think any Member of this Senate wants to see.
Alexander still seems open to biometric Social Security Cards.
The issue is still alive.