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


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Two For the Price of One

Here are two articles worth reading: one from Investor's Business Daily and another from CNet News.

Investors: Digital Identification Plan Still Facing Many Hurdles:
The clock's ticking for Real ID, a driver's license overhaul created by Congress to deter terrorism. Its countdown to changes in 2014 holds some worry that airport security lines could be thrown into chaos this spring.
The Department of Homeland Security laid out extended deadlines for Real ID with a final rule issued Jan 11. The agency must now pass the roadblock of state dissent and cross a technology gap to reach its goal.
CNet: Religious minorities face Real ID crackdown:
More than two decades after the Quaring case, approximately a dozen states now offer religious exceptions when issuing driver's licenses. But because of a federal law called the Real ID Act that takes effect on May 11, residents of those states who have pictureless licenses could expect problems flying on commercial airliners and entering federal buildings, including some Social Security and Veterans Affairs offices.
America is changing from a community of fellow citizens who are "innocent until proven guilty" into a society of suspicion and power-play. Americans are turning into subjects who are "suspect until properly identified."

Is the United States rejecting America?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Privacy--Who Should Be Ignorant About Us?

In all the talk about privacy, few are talking about the parties who ought not have the informational "low down" on individuals.

I submit the following: We are not experiencing "freedom" or "privacy" when it is the government that knows everything about us and is "protecting" our privacy. The situation is similar to medical billing companies that refuse to strike a person's social security number from its records. They keep the information in order to "protect" our privacy.

We need protection from organizations like that--and from the government.

If the DHS is quietly permitting every banking transaction or travel plan or tourist visit to Washington or "countless other uses" (as Mr. Chertoff foresees for REAL ID)--we are not experiencing privacy (freedom)

The privacy I want is the kind where the government is out of our back-pockets, leaving Americans alone until there is probable cause to search (or surveil) our lives.

It's just a little something called The Bill of Rights.

A concept called freedom...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

COLUMN: Conservatives yield to 'Big Brother' in the name of security

Harry Reynolds of the Journal Gazette Times Online of Charleston Illinois contends that Conservatives yield to 'Big Brother' in the name of security:
I can’t decide if Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is an avid disciple of “Big Brother” government or merely oblivious to its dangers.

The Bush administration’s shucking of conservative principles in the name of security smacks of hypocrisy. But, it’s not alone in the farce. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have aided and abetted this assault on civil liberties.

I can understand liberal Democrats’ treading toward big government at the expense of state’s and individual rights. It’s sad to see conservatives in both parties sell the label so cheaply.
As a conservative, I have to agree with Mr. Reynolds.

Read the entire column here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The false promise of Real ID

Jon Heasley has a good opinion piece in the LA Times: The False Promise of REAL ID:
DHS can only define those 'official purposes' for which a REAL ID credential must be used in lieu of other state-issued drivers' licenses," the department said in a summary of the rules. "If cardholders experience specific abuses regarding third-party misuse of these cards, Congress and the states can determine whether and how to address such abuses." How reassuring.
Read the entire article here.

Again--I ask, "Where are the 'conservatives' who believe in limited government and the Bill of Rights?"

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two "Atta Boys" on REAL ID

One "keep going" for Montana's governor:
In his letter (.pdf) to other governors, Schweitzer makes clear he's not going to ask for an extension.

"Today, I am asking you to join with me in resisting the DHS coercion to comply with the provisions of REAL ID, " Schweitzer wrote. "If we stand together either DHS will blink or Congress will have to act to avoid havoc at our nation's airports and federal courthouses."

And one "well said" for Bob Barr at the Washington Times:
While disingenuously professing no desire to "punish" citizens because the government of the state in which they live might not be ready to jump onto the federal government's Real ID bandwagon, Mr. Chertoff said this was precisely what the department would do.

In a refrain distressingly typical of how this administration routinely treats notions of federalism and individual liberty, last Friday Mr. Chertoff said, "The last thing I want to do is punish citizens of a state who would love to have a Real ID license but can't get one, but in the end, the rule is the rule."

In fact, the Real ID act rushed through Congress three years ago by the Republican majority in cahoots with a Republican president, presents serious financial and privacy concerns to the states; concerns that have not been addressed by our federal benefactors. The law details requirements for drivers' licenses if they are to be accepted for air travel or any other purpose regulated or controlled in any way by a federal agency or a federal law....

Unless this situation changes, it will provide yet another clear example of how both major political parties remain firmly under control of Big Government advocates.

I'm a conservative. I've always been Republican. But more important than "party" is "Constitution" and "freedom."

I apologize for this mess my own party created. But they made this mess by forgetting what we sent them to Washington to do--limit the government.

All I can say to the Republicans is, on this point, "You blew it guys. Fix it."

Please read the above articles in their entirety.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Answer is Still No

The Anchorage Daily News posted an excellent opinion piece about REAL ID: The Answer is Still No:
Last week, Michael Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security, unveiled revised rules for the REAL ID Act, which bombed beyond the Beltway after its passage in 2005. Seventeen states passed resolutions protesting it or prohibiting compliance. So Homeland Security tried to sweeten the deal by granting delays, slashing costs by a claimed 73 percent and exempting Americans 50 and older from carrying federally approved driver's licenses until 2017.

Red flag, citizens. If you can't peddle an idea without a fire sale and years of delay, it's probably not a good idea....

Critics point out that REAL ID would not make us safer. It would not have stopped Timothy McVeigh, a homegrown terrorist, nor would it guarantee the apprehension of foreign-born terrorists like those who carried out the attacks of 9/11. It might provide a limited tool against illegal immigration, and, Mr. Chertoff argues, identity theft. But tech trackers insist shared databases would increase opportunities for ID theft and other information hacking -- not to mention government-sanctioned invasions of privacy.

Paranoia? No, just knowledge of current events....
Read more here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Michael Chertoff: National ID security

Michael Chertoff wrote an article for the Sacramento Bee. In this article, he tries to promote and extol the virtues of REAL ID. You can read it here. I want to quote Mr. Chertoff in red...

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.

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 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."

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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

National ID card would show we've given in to fear

Paul Krissel of Salem, Oregon wrote a good editorial on the REAL ID Act:
Let's think before we give in to our fears and allow the creation of a national identity card.

Our founders created strong individual freedoms in the Bill of Rights. As national laws were passed such as Social Security and the creation of the Internal Revenue Service, strict walls were established between government agencies to prohibit the creation of a national identity card invading the freedom of individuals and our privacy. We are being driven to hysteria by many fears (terrorism, immigration) and are asked to give up freedoms that define the U.S.A.

Driver's licenses were never supposed to be anything other than documentation that a driver learned the rules of the road to safely operate a motor vehicle. Police officials have historically favored licensing, regardless of immigration status, to assure safety on our roads.

This paper has reported that more documented residents and citizens would have difficulty qualifying for a license than undocumented workers, due to many cross-governmental data errors.

Let us resist the urge to give up our privacy and freedoms in response to our fears about immigration. The Bill of Rights must not be so easily compromised.

-- Paul Krissel, Salem

Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Good Editorial: Here comes a national ID card

The Sentinel of Carlisle, PA has a good editorial entitled Here Comes a National ID Card.

Regarding REAL ID:
Supporters of REAL ID take great pains to say the new driver’s licenses will not be a national identity card. But we predict that if REAL ID succeeds, it won’t be long before it is used for everything from check cashing to renting an apartment or that you’ll be required to produce it if you’re walking down the street at night and a police officer doesn’t like your looks.

If the U.S. Supreme Court upholds state laws requiring “official” photo identification to vote, you can bet it will soon be REAL ID poll workers will be asking for.

And because they will be bar-coded, the probability will be high that REAL ID can be used to track an individual’s movements over years.

This is not what America is about.
For a lot more from this article, go here.

The REAL ID will become not only a driver's license, but a banking license, a flying license, and a visit-the-Capitol license (federal buildings).

How long until it becomes a Buy Ammunition License, Get Utilities License, Buy a Home License, Attend Sporting Events License, Enter a School License, and a Walk Down the Street License?

How many other arbitrary rules and uses can be added to REAL ID?

Are people free if they need constant, real-time, electronic, federal-government permission to function in society?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Email to the Heritage Foundation

Below is an email I sent to the Heritage Foundation a couple of days ago. As of yet, I haven't heard a reply--and really don't expect one because of the volume of emails I'm sure the Foundation receives.

But the content of the email is something I would direct to any government leader as well. Michael Chertoff casts REAL ID as a "no-brainer" and even manages to twist the rule into a boon for privacy.

But I never hear an answer for the real underlying concerns I have--which are expressed in this email.

What do you think?


Why do you, as so-called "conservatives", promote the REAL ID Act?

The REAL ID Act undermines the 4th Amendment (Are Americans "innocent until proven guilty," or are we "suspect until properly identified?")

The REAL ID Act undermines whatever vestiges of federalism remain. The Act may contain technicalities that avoid such a charge, but the spirit of the act undermines the goals of the Constitution.

The REAL ID Act creates an infrastructure for enforcing arbitrary and increasing numbers of regulations that liberals--and apparently "conservatives"--will not be afraid to add to the "minimum" standards. Instead of being free citizens, we will be people living under constant, real-time "permission" from the government to function in society.

The REAL ID Act also multiplies the effects of a surveillance society.

Will the REAL ID Act incorporate biometrics in the future? If not, why not? What guarantees do we have once we've thrown over our heritage of freedom by taking these first steps toward a national id card? Why do "free" people need to be tagged and tracked like cattle?

A driver's license should be just that--a license to drive: Not a license to function in society. The Constitution is supposed to the basis for functioning in a free society.

I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in "conservatives" who do nothing to conserve freedom.

I've not been a Republican all my life in order to promote the expansion of government--especially an expansion on this scale. (If REAL ID does not "really" expand the powers and abilities of government, then why are we doing it?) I have no confidence in Republicans to guard the trust of freedom.

You are wrong to support of REAL ID.

Friday, January 11, 2008

DHS Releases REAL ID Regulation

The DHS just released final regulations on REAL ID:

Final Rule
Questions and Answers
Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA)

More here, and here.

Isn't it amazing how complicated it is to just live, move, and have our being in the United States-- a "free" country?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Heritage Foundation: A "REAL" Disappointment

The Heritage Foundation has the following mission statement:
Our Mission: Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institute - a think tank - whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.
I like this mission statement...as far as it goes.

Their cause is a worthy cause.

But something is wrong: the Heritage Foundation promotes the REAL ID Act.

I encourage every American to study the REAL ID Act and then ask themselves "How does a national id card promote limited government?"

We should also ask "How does the REAL ID Act promote individual freedom?"

Actually, the REAL ID Act stands in opposition to both these ideals.

REAL ID expands the power of the federal government by creating an electronic infrastructure for innumerable regulations future Congresses can impose.

The REAL ID Act limits the freedom of the individual by expanding the presence and power of the federal government. How is the individual more "free" with an ever-present federal government brought into the transactions of daily life?

The irony is that the Heritage Foundation calls itself a "conservative" think-thank.

Maybe the Heritage Foundation needs to add "Valuing and Promoting the Ideals of the Constitution" to their mission statement.

Such a goal would indeed be "conservative."