DHS Secretary Chertoff on REAL ID's "COUNTLESS OTHER" USES.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Why REAL ID Is Not "Just a Secure Driver's License."

REAL ID is a lot more than "just a secure card."

It is an entire system of card, scanners, records, and access by government officials. In short, it is a platform for increasing control and regulation over the individual. Such schemes would be used by politicians for an avalanche of regulation.

Some bureaucrats are trying to convince us that REAL ID is a simple change with no long term affects. They blogand say things like:
"Is REAL ID a threat to privacy? There are critics who will say so. But, these same critics can’t and won’t tell you precisely how REAL ID threatens privacy. There’s a reason for that. They have no evidence."
So I left a comment at this blog and said the following:


I have reason and evidence to oppose REAL ID.

I find it ironic for some to say that the government can protect our records without incident. Our presidential candidates may have something contrary to say, having had their passport records hacked by people contracted to work for the government. “But,” I hear proponents of REAL ID saying, “we’ll be really, really good at it, ok? Just trust us.”

This is not very reassuring.

Concerning identity theft... Have we ever stopped to think that maybe--just maybe--we should not have reduced our lives to a nine-digit number? We created the problem and then howl about it. Surely we can put our American ingenuity to work and think of ways to empower the individual’s control over his person and papers. That would be better than reducing our rights and identities to a card--which is then placed squarely in the hands of bureaucrats.

This power play leaves the government holding all the cards... with the citizen risking all the bets.

We have the evidence of what our leaders are actually saying about REAL ID. One leader has said there can be “countless other uses” for REAL ID.

Countless other uses.

Countless times to be scanned by “machine-readable technology” in the transactions of our daily lives. Scanned and recorded for the benefit of government. Living in a REAL ID maze of red light-green light is not freedom.

Why shouldn’t we be concerned about this?

REAL ID creates an infrastructure for increasing regulation. The problem isn’t just the collection of inert information. It’s about the real-time, digital use of that information by the government over against the individual citizen.

As a conservative, I also happen to believe in the 4th Amendment. We ought not let the government make the 4th Amendment obsolete through “countless” scannings of citizens by “machine readable technology” every time we turn around. If the government needs to search a citizen’s person or papers, let it get a search warrant. Otherwise, the government should leave free citizens alone. REAL ID proponents essentially want to skirt the inconvenience of probable cause and search warrants. Instead, we get to hear “Your REAL ID, please” for countless other purposes.

You see, the privacy we need is privacy from the government--until and unless there is probable cause of wrongdoing. It’s called playing by the Constitutional rules. I know it sounds strange.

True, we cannot “go back to a simpler day.” But we are creative and smart enough to carry our heritage of freedom with us--even as technology advances. Technological advances are no excuse to abandon the Constitutional concept of limited government. Technology does not require statism.

History provides evidence. Programs like REAL ID never remain “minimal.” For example, Social Security cards were introduced with the promise that they would not be used for identification purposes. Wow.

REAL ID “security” standards will not remain “minimal” either. We are putting all our identity eggs into one federal basket. How long until we see the inherent “risks” of this and then “require” the use of biometrics--for our “protection” and “convenience?” How long before DHS or Congress can no longer resist the lobbying of biometrics companies?

And who owns the biometrics of the individual anyway? The citizen or the government? We haven’t even had that debate.

There is a lot to discuss about this road called REAL ID... before we jump over the edge like lemmings.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Where Do You Place Your Distrust?

In the debate over national id cards (REAL ID), I often hear people say, “Well, if you’ve got nothing to hide, what does it matter if the government knows everything about you?”

The underlying assumption for saying such a thing is twofold:

1) The Individual Should Be Distrusted.
2) The Government Should Be Trusted.

The question really is “Where do you place your distrust?”

Secretaries and Bureaucrats have the job of wielding government power. It is a necessary job because government is needed. It’s a fallen world after all. So Secretaries and Bureaucrats (and Presidents and Congresses) ask themselves, “How Can I Make My Job Easier?” It is human nature to ask, and it is usually a good question.

But when Secretaries and Bureaucrats want to expand their space, they must contract the individual’s space. That’s just the way the world works. So government officials have to “sell” their increased powers to the voters by telling the voters how good (convenient) the expansion of government power will be for them.

And here’s the rub.

The Framers of the Constitution had an up-close-and-personal understanding of tyranny. They knew that government power must be minimized and individual freedom must be maximized. To achieve this, they separated the powers of government into three branches and into a federal system. They also shackled the government with checks and balances. The whole Constitution screams, “Limited Government!”

The Framers placed their distrust in government. It’s the American way.

But modern day leaders distrust the individual, disregard the Constitution, and love government. And Secretaries and Bureaucrats chafe under limitations. Their easy way out is to override the individual.

With the rise of technology and the war on terrorism, we can easily forget the threat of tyranny. National ID Cards (i.e. REAL ID) enable the government to track individuals through their daily lives. Secretary Chertoff has already talked about “countless other uses” for REAL ID. So the citizen is subject to being conveniently scanned for “countless other uses” by “machine readable technology.”

Knowledge is power. If the government knows everything, it has all the power. To digitally track the individual in real-time makes the 4th Amendment obsolete and grants the government massive power. It’s a zero-sum game.

One might say, “The government knows everything about you anyway. What’s it matter?” It matters for two reasons:

1) Such talk says, “Let’s capitulate.” It is a fallacy that says, “It’s already bad, so let’s make it worse.” Hope for reform withers under that kind of resignation.

2) REAL ID layers on more real-time capability of surveillance. If it weren’t a significant change that increased government’s power, the government wouldn’t be pushing for it.

The proliferation of scanners will have the citizen scanning-in with the government every time he turns around. Mr. Chertoff has already mentioned using REAL ID to buy cold medicine!

Instead of asking the individual, “What do you have to hide?” we should be asking bureaucrats, secretaries, Presidents and Congresses “Why do you want so much power at my expense?”

Where should we place our distrust?

I stand with the Constitution’s Framers. The threat of tyranny has never gone away. I simply can’t believe our only choices are statism or terrorism.

If we sell out our freedoms in order to fight terrorism (which we should fight hammer-and-tong) how can we say “We are defending America?”

Surely we can do better.

Friday, March 21, 2008

REAL ID Plain and Simple

Assistant Secretary for DHS, Stewart A. Baker, posted an article entitled "Real ID Plain and Simple." He writes for the Homeland Security Leadership Journal. In his post, he promotes what he thinks are the virtues of REAL ID.

I'm am convinced that people like Mr. Baker are trying to do their jobs with the best of motives. However, we have a right to disagree strongly with those in leadership--and express our concerns. Mr. Baker notes:
As I write, four states have yet to commit to secure licenses for their citizens. The good news for these state leaders is that there’s still time to get on board. I’ll have more to say about this in the coming days. In the meantime, thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.
So I left a comment.

Mr. Baker's job is to cast REAL ID in the best light possible. Read his article and ask yourself if a national id card (REAL ID) is really the best solution for our problems. Then check out Jim Harper's article Collins and Chertoff Fight to Save the National ID--and see if you agree with Mr. Harper's conclusion:
Implementing REAL ID would burden the country with wasteful spending and needlessly undermine Americans' freedom and privacy without adding to our protections.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Federal buildings become Real ID zones

Declan McCullagh and Anne Broache at CNet News discuss the implementation and problems of the REAL ID Act.
Editor's note: A May deadline looms as just one flash point in a political showdown between Homeland Security and states that oppose Real ID demands. This is the second in a four-part series examining the confrontation.

The nation's capital attracts more than 15 million visitors a year, mostly leisure travelers who often make their way to the city's official visitor center, which is conveniently located downtown in a corner of the Ronald Reagan building.

Or was that inconveniently located? Starting May 11, Americans living in states that don't comply with new federal regulations could be barred from entering Washington D.C.'s visitor center and collecting the complimentary maps and brochures--unless they happen to bring a U.S. passport or military ID with them.

How many more REAL ID zones will there be?

Read more here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Letter to My Congressman: David Davis

David Davis is a good man whom I respect. But that doesn't mean that fellow conservatives are always going to agree.

And I have a significant difference with Mr. Davis about solving the problems of illegal immigration.

Representative Davis is eager--and rightfully so--to solve the problems of illegal immigration. But his zeal to handle the issue has, I believe, blinded him to the long-term consequences which are anything but "conservative."

Mr. Davis agrees with measures like the REAL ID Act. He also wants to increase the information sharing between the Social Security Administration, IRS, and Homeland Security. The effectively blends these bureaucracies into one massive institution.

Below is a letter to this fine man with whom I disagree--strongly--on these issues:
February 21, 2008

To the Honorable David Davis:

I just received the brochure on your solution to illegal immigration.

I agree with Point #1: Enforce the Laws Already on the Books.
I agree with Point #2: Build the Border Fence.

Yet I have three major disagreements.

1. I disagree with E-Verification of Employees: You want to build an electronic infrastructure where every American citizen must get permission from the federal government for every job he takes. My right to work is an inalienable right from God, not a privilege handed out from the federal government.

2. I disagree with “Tamper-Proof ID” Cards: You must mean biometric and scannable cards. These cards undermine the 4th Amendment. The federal government will search and seize personal information (biometrics and documents)--as if each citizen were a criminal. This is simply a dragnet over every American citizen ignoring the checks and balances of “probable cause” and the issuing of warrants.

Our Founding Fathers would shudder at your proposal. Americans are to be “innocent-until-proven-guilty.” We are not to be “suspect-until-properly-identified.”

You are handing liberals a powerful tool to regulate Americans. An electronic ID system creates an infrastructure for layering on arbitrary rules just to function in society--such as regulations on gun purchases, accessing healthcare (when healthcare is finally socialized), buying cold medicine, entering schools or other public buildings, etc. With the current REAL ID Card legislation, Americans are no longer able to function in society without real-time, digital permission from the federal government. Mr. Chertoff has already mentioned “countless other uses” for REAL ID.

3. I disagree with Centralizing Power into a Monolithic Government: Tying Homeland Security, Social Security, and the IRS into virtually one massive bureaucracy is an amazing concept. We have a label for political thinking that wraps individuals and businesses around a monolithic central government--and that label isn’t freedom. It’s a sad thing when “conservatives” promote big-government theory.

In light of all this, I have to question your commitment to conservatism (classical liberalism).

Please look at history again and reconsider America’s founding principles. If you are indeed conservative, please promote the Constitutional values of:

Limited Government
The Bill of Rights

Right now, you are aiding the growth of statism--a poor, and unnecessary, solution to any problem.


John R.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My Comment to Fred Barnes

I like Fred Barnes. I enjoy watching him on Fox News from time to time. I believe he's a good guy.

But I disagree with him whole-heartedly on the issue of a national id card. In September of 2002, Mr. Barnes wrote in The Weekly Standard an article entitled Let's See Some ID, Please:
The major objection to a uniform card is that it curbs our freedom. It does not. It may reduce our privacy, but not much more than has already occurred because of credit cards, bank accounts, electronic toll passes, movie rental cards, car rentals, phone usage, driver's licenses, voter registration, and airline records--all of which are readily available to investigators.
He goes on with his thoughts here.

Since the REAL ID Act is indeed a national id card, I want to post my comments to Mr. Barnes' article. We have to be willing to challenge the thinking on this issue. Here are my comments:
Mr. Barnes,

I just read your article promoting the virtues of a national id card. I oppose a national id card--passionately. I'm concerned about 4th Amendment issues. If I voluntarily associate myself with private sector entities which maintain some information about me, that's my business. If the government needs that info, let it get a search warrant.

If the government mandates a seizure of my biometric information in order to establish a platform for ongoing verification of my identity, the government has taken to itself a massive power of control. People who have to have "permission" from the federal government to function on a daily basis are not free.

A national id card is not simply a secure card. It would be an entire infrastructure of card, scanners, records, and access by government officials. In short, it is a platform for increasing control and regulation over the individual. Such schemes would be used by liberals for an avalanche of regulation.

Why "conservatives" cannot see the inherent increase in government presence and power is beyond me. Conservatives tout "limited government" and then embrace national id card schemes like the REAL ID Act.

To say that the Constitution was not written to protect us from such government is just silly.

I don't want government to hold all the cards--whether in the "right" hand or the "left."

Big government is big government.

Admit the obvious!

Thank You.
Those are my comments, Mr. Barnes.

Here is a post script:

In the context of America's Constitutional thought and heritage of freedom, the concept of a national id card is a radical idea.

Let's leave such schemes for totalitarian countries and dictatorships.

America is supposed to be different--and free.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification: Franz Kafka's Solution to Illegal Immigration

Jim Harper of the Cato Institute recently wrote:
In last summer's debate over immigration reform, Congres treated a national electronic employment eligibility verificatio (EEV) system as a matter of near consensus. Intended to strengthen internal enforcement of the immigration laws electronic EEV is an Internet-based employee vetting system tha the federal government would require every employer to use....

Creating an accurate EEV system would require a national identification (ID) system, costing about $20 billion to create and hundreds of millions more per year to operate. Even if it were free, the country should reject a national ID system. It would cause law-abiding American citizens to lose more of their privacy as government records about them grew and were converted to untold new purposes. "Mission creep" all but guarantees that the federal government would use an EEV system to extend federal regulatory control over Americans' lives even further.

REAL ID was a part of the EEVS plan granting the government the ability to control--arbitrarily-- an American's right to work.

Please read more by Jim Harper here.

Friday, March 7, 2008

When Was This Quote Written?

When and where did the following quote about national id cards come from?
It is particularly disturbing that the attempt to deal with illegal immigrants can end up harming people who appear foreign, who are in the U.S. legally or even are citizens. And it is especially ironic that people fleeing the tyranny and poverty of socialist countries should face increased restrictions in the U.S

It comes from an organization that promotes itself as loving Constitutional freedoms.

It was written in 1990 for an organization that now promotes the REAL ID Act.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

DHS: Real ID is 'pro-consumer' and 'antiterrorism'

Ann Broache, on behalf of CNet News, blogs about DHS's push to make states comply with REAL ID:
WASHINGTON--One of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's most prominent Real ID cheerleaders made a more timid than usual push on Tuesday for states to adopt the controversial identification card standards.

Stewart Baker, the department's assistant secretary for policy, has touted what he perceives as the privacy-protective, identity theft-preventive features of the congressionally mandated Real ID driver's license regime during the past year....

But, clearly fearing criticism during a Tuesday morning speech at the spring meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, he saved any mention of the program until the tail end of a 20-minute speech about the perils of identity theft.

The former National Security Agency general counsel then launched into a kinder, gentler defense of Real ID, first acknowledging he expected "to get a little pushback on this."
I only wish there were a lot of push back on this.

The concept of the individual is fading fast. REAL ID creates an infrastructure where arbitrary rules can be added and enforced with greater ease than before--reducing the "breathing space" of the individual radically.

The justification for REAL ID has already morphed into several purposes: national security, illegal immigration, identity fraud, and cold-medicine control. However, none of these issues creates a valid need for a national id card.

When people have to gain on-going permission to live (i.e. "You're ID, please."), those people are not free; especially when that ID is controlled by an impersonal, too-powerful bureaucracy.

Is this what America was supposed to be?

Read more of Ann Broache's article here..

Chertoff urges holdout states to comply with REAL ID act

The Jurist Legal News and Research notes that Chertoff urges holdout states to comply with REAL ID act:

Read about it here.