Monday, January 14, 2008

More On Real ID

The Wall Street Journal had some more information on our new federal guidelines for appropriate identification if we want to board a plane, including statements from Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security Secretary. (subscription required, I think)

The licenses will include a digital photograph and a filament or some other security device that counterfeiters can't reproduce, but not a controversial radio-controlled computer chip, Mr. Chertoff said. States will be required to verify each applicant's personal information, including his or her legal status in the country, by comparing it against federal Social Security and passport databases, or against state vital-statistics databases. (emphasis added)

Sounds like the days of renewing through the mail or getting a new license in less than 30 minutes are over.

Is it just me, or does a phrase such as "a security device that counterfeiters can't reproduce" sound ridiculously naive? I'd love more specifics, too, because "some other security device" isn't cutting it for me.

And now all our information will need to be verified against federal databases. Because we are ALL potential criminals. And imagine! All those jobs that will be created to handle the extra paperwork! Hooray for votes jobs!

Senator Patrick Leahy is a strange ally to those of us who tend to oppose further encroachments on our freedoms. He said:

"It is difficult to think this is anything but the first, big step toward a national identification card that so many Americans oppose."

But Mr. Chertoff disputed that. "Most people accept that you need to identify yourself," he said, and "I see no argument in favor of making it easier to pony up fake identity."

What kind of comeback is that? Nobody IS arguing that it should be easier for criminals to get fake ids. Stop trying to distract people with something shiny and address the real issue, Mr. Chertoff!

The National Conference of State Legislatures says that legislators in 29 states have introduced bills refusing to comply, and that legislation has passed in six states including New Hampshire, which calls Real ID "repugnant" to the state and U.S. constitutions.

I understand that Georgia is one of the opposition states. Yay for that! But as I said in my previous post, resistance is futile:

Mr. Chertoff said states "have been coming aboard" since their complaints about the cost and speed of the program have been addressed. But Homeland Security also has let the states know that licenses from states that opt out of Real ID won't be accepted as identification from anyone wanting to fly on or enter a commercial aircraft beginning this spring.

It's blackmail. No two ways about it. The federal government is using its power to give citizens a "choice" between being able to fly for business or pleasure or continuing to oppose federal "security" mandates on private law-abiding citizens. So people will pressure the opposition states into submitting to the federal rules and they will feel grateful that they still have the "freedom" to fly anywhere they want to whenever they want to.

Mr. Chertoff still needs to make it clear how these new licenses will stop Bad Guys from harming innocent people! HOW? Maybe it will be more difficult for people to use fake identities. Personally, I don't have much hope for that, because as long as there have been identification cards, there have been people who have figured out how to fake them. Somebody will crack it.

And even if these Real IDs are 100% secure and foolproof, SO WHAT?!?!?! There will be Bad Guys and they will do Bad Guy things. Work on figuring out who the heck they are and finding them and catching them. Forcing millions of innocent American citizens to accept a new federally sanctioned state identification card or give up the ability to ride an airplane doesn't catch more Bad Guys. Even my 5 year old could see the hole in this logic.

The US government needs to stop viewing every single person as a potential criminal who must be monitored or brought in line and start concentrating on catching actual criminals. Just a thought.


Crimson Wife said...

Ugh! I am unfortunately not surprised to learn that the People's Republic of California is "well on its way to complying with Real ID" :-(

Rational Jenn said...

Yeah, that was a big shocker all right! (not)

There are only 17 states resisting, and most of them are resisting because they want more money. I'm sure as the DHS pressures the residents of those states (like me!) by curtailing their ability to travel by plane, even those states will quickly fall in line.

It's so ridiculous and disgusting. We--the individual citizens--have absolutely no power to change this. We must simply fall in line like obedient sheep. Can this really be the country envisioned by the Founders?