Monday, February 04, 2008

Which States Are Currently Complying With Real ID?

Here is an article about the looming deadline (May) for complying with Real ID and includes a nifty map of which states are Yes, No, and Possibly. Georgia is a Possibly state, which means, as far as I can tell, that our governor and legislators will pretend to waffle on this issue until the last possible minute and then hurry up and comply.

Montana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, New Hampshire and Maine are the only states who are flat out refusing to comply.

In just more than three months, millions of law-abiding Americans might face new hassles when traveling on commercial flights if they hold driver's licenses or identification cards issued by Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and up to 15 other states plus the District of Columbia that have rejected the Real ID regulations on privacy and cost grounds or have not agreed to comply.

One of the reasons I already hate air travel is because of the hassle of dealing with the security regulations, most of which, by the way, protect no one. Sure, driving is a hassle, too, but I enjoy being able to load up my car with whatever liquids I want and just go somewhere--anywhere--and nobody knows who I am or where I'm going. Nobody checks our ID, unless we happen to get stopped for a ticket or want a beer.

When we flew recently, Brendan and I had to show our IDs five times each time we wanted to board an airplane: checking in baggage, getting boarding passes, going through the first "ID-verification" TSA checkpoint, walking through the metal detectors, and then to get on the plane. I also had to show ID when talking to the gate agent about Ryan's peanut allergy. What a freaking pain. And--why?

And now, in the very near future, we will need to show our federally-approved IDs in order to enjoy the benefits of air travel. Unless Georgia decides not to comply (which I really don't foresee, given that we have That Big Airport and That Big Airline and That Other Airline and all those people with jobs and businesses supporting them, not to mention lots of citizens who just want to travel by airplane). Here's what might happen to residents of states that decide not to comply:

But travelers from non-Real ID states will have no choice but to undergo what Homeland Security delicately calls "delays" and "enhanced security screening" unless they happen to have a valid U.S. passport issued by the State Department. (all emphasis added)

I read that and think--wow! Another reason to add more jobs to the government payroll! With all that "enhanced security screening" the TSA will need lots more highly-trained security guard peopleguys to handle the, ah, more personal service.

And of course there is talk that residents of non-compliant states may be denied the ability to travel by air entirely:

"The DHS proposal that individuals who do not have a passport and happen to live in states that do not seek an extension to comply before May of this year will not be allowed to board a domestic flight is extremely concerning," said Kevin Maguire, president and CEO of the National Business Travel Association, which represents corporate travel managers and travel service providers.

. . .

From DHS' perspective, the law is clear: Real ID was signed on May 11, 2005, by President Bush as part of an Iraq war and tsunami relief bill, and its edict is unambiguous. It says that "three years after the date of the enactment of this division, a federal agency may not accept, for any official purpose, a driver's license or identification card issued by a state to any person unless the state is meeting the requirements of this section."

(Mr. Maguire goes on to refer to a person's "fundamental right to travel," which I get, only I don't think there is a fundamental right to travel by air or any other specific mode of transportation. It's a pain--but you can--until the DHS decides otherwise, of course--travel by car or train or bus or bike or foot.)

All joking aside--I am OUTRAGED that millions of American citizens--including me!--will be treated as criminals because of their or their state's unwillingness to comply with these ridiculous federal standards. Which by the way will not protect anyone, unless the Real ID happens to be bullet-proof and you have it in your coat pocket strategically over your heart and you happen to get shot in the chest. Most of the 9/11 Bad Guys had legal US ID. The Feds know this and hope that we don't. They are after our privacy, in the name of our protection. Air travelers will soon be considered guilty until proven innocent. And our country is not at all safe.

1 comment:

Monica said...

Wow. If this happens, it's all over. This makes me want to pack up a large pickup truck with essential goods and move far, far away to Alaska or Nunavut or some such place, build a log cabin in the middle of nowhere, and live off the land. No?

You think I'm kidding, but I was debt free I'd probably consider it. That or some remote tropical island where no one would ever find me.