He starts off my asking some interesting questions:
Should banks cash checks from people who cannot prove who they are? Should parents hire babysitters they know nothing about? Should airlines let passengers on board without validating their identity? For most Americans, these questions answer themselves. Our citizens depend on different forms of government-issued identification, such as driver's licenses, every day.Don't you see that the banking problem is already covered? Banks take our Social Security Numbers in order to open accounts. The Patriot Act also watches any troubling use of those accounts. How is that we have banked for so many years without REAL ID?
Is it the federal government's job to verify the hiring of baby-sitters? I thought REAL ID was supposed to be an anti-illegal immigration and anti-terrorism tool? How is it that parents have handled baby-sitting problems all these years without REAL ID? Chertoff is already revealing the "mission creep" that REAL ID will experience.
Don't airlines already validate the identity of passengers? Haven't we already put measures in place to secure the airlines? Haven't we already "beefed up" the security of the airlines? There are a myriad of anti-terror tools at the disposal of law enforcement--and I firmly believe that we should go after the terrorists. But I'm not so sure that we need a national id system that casts an electronic net over every American citizen to do it.
Under these new standards, individuals seeking driver's licenses must provide their state Department of Motor Vehicles office with documents proving who they are and that they're here legally.Verifying the legality of a driver license applicant is not a problem. But the REAL ID act scans the information and retains it permanently for federal use--to grant us citizens ongoing federal permission to function in society. It really, really brings the federal government close the people: an electronic ball-and-chain in every back pocket or purse.
Some... objections are based on misinformation. A good example is the spurious claim that we're ushering in a national identity card. What we are actually doing is setting standards that will let the states keep issuing their own ID cards.This is a difference without a distinction. And is it typical bureaucratic word-twisting. Let me boil down the national id issue:
1. REAL ID is a driver's license using standards demanded by the NATIONAL GOVERNMENT.REAL ID also links the 50 state databases into one grand network that the federal government has access to. Bureaucrats like Mr. Chertoff may say that this isn't a national database--but this is another difference that makes no difference. The issue isn't where the information lies. REAL ID creates all the effects of a national database by using the states to do the federal government's "dirty work."
2. REAL ID is for the purpose of IDENTIFICATION: As Mr. Chertoff has already revealed, he sees "countless other" uses for REAL ID in every day life--such as baby-sitting.
3. REAL ID is a CARD.
Put all three components together and we have a NATIONAL ID CARD.
This isn't rocket science.
REAL ID creates more than just a "secure card." It creates an entirely new infrastructure of 1) The Card 2) Ubiquitous Scanners 3) A National Database (50 linked databases for federal use), and 4) Records of where and when the cards are scanned. Believe me, the "where and when" will include more than just when we fly.
Are people free when the daily transactions of our lives are subject to the federal government's ongoing "permission?"
But remember what I said about checks, babysitters and planes. Almost no one -- including privacy advocates -- denies that sometimes we need to know who we're dealing with. We need a document that reveals their identity. So why would anyone oppose efforts to secure identity documents from fraud and falsification?The issue isn't those pesky privacy nuts. The issue is freedom. Should our identities be federalized? Should our God-given rights be reduced to a string of digits--subject to the mercy of technocrats and impersonal software? Is a person's dignity to be reduced to a card? Local families, businesses, and societies have taken care of themselves for a long time without a federalized id card.
Other critics seem to think that it is a privacy violation simply to create secure identification.Mr. Chertoff wants to do an end-run around the 4th Amendment. Free people are supposed to be left alone until there is probable cause to seize their papers or their persons. If Americans have committed crimes, let the government get a warrant to arrest them. Otherwise, leave us alone. REAL ID seizes our papers and scans them into a de facto national database so the federal government can monitor our daily lives.
In the end, by embracing REAL ID, we can indeed cash a check, hire a baby sitter, board a plane or engage in countless other activities with confidence. By issuing this rule, we've moved decisively to secure our nation and its people in the coming years. I truly believe that one day our children will look back at this day and wonder how we could have lived without these common-sense protections.Mr. Chertoff, we can already cash checks. We can already hire baby-sitters. We can already do "countless other activities"--without you breathing down our necks.
I hope our children will look back on this day and thank God that Americans did all they could to preserve freedom.