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Real ID Slips Past the Senate in the Military Funding Bill

The Feds have put the plans in place to make sure that you can't defacate without their knowledge. Unless some legal intervention occurs, this legislation will take effect in 2008.


Is The REAL ID Act Realistic?
By Lindsay Claiborne
July 22, 2005

I don’t think anyone looks forward to going to the Department of Motor Vehicles, knowing full well that the trip will take at least a few hours out of their day.

But it will only get worse. The REAL ID Act, which slipped through Congress on the back of a military funding bill, pushes the buttons of a number of governors. The act requires states to design their drivers' licenses to meet federal anti-terrorist standards by 2008, including referencing all identification documents (like passports or Social Security cards) against federal databases. has published about this act before, but it’s still an issue of concern.

The renewed discussion of the legislation was prompted by the National Governor’s Convention in Iowa this week. Governors are starting to squirm under the new requirements that the DMV will have to meet. The new law, which passed in June, goes beyond an earlier measure that sought to standardize state driver's licenses, requiring that states verify that license applicants are American citizens or legal residents.

And you thought the DMV lines were long now.

Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., has spoken out, saying that the act unconstitutionally infringes upon state laws and that there is no doubt that it will be challenged. He points out that New Mexico’s roads are safer since state laws allowed immigrants to get drivers' licenses—and subsequently insurance.

Then there’s the cost factor. These new regulations do not come cheaply. Workers at DMVs will have to be trained on the new databases and procedures; everyone will have to visit the DMV to get the new scanable cards, overloading the already busy departments; and the individual will have to pay for it, in time and money. The estimated costs range to the hundreds of millions. Governors Rendell, D-Pa., and Warner, D-Va., both estimate it could cost $100 million just to enact all of the changes in each of their states. And there’s no indication from the federal government about where that money will come from (only $100 million total has been appropriated by Congress).

Think of it this way. The next time you have to get your driver’s license renewed, you will have to bring four different forms of proof of identification, a book to read while you wait and your checkbook. The new IDs could cost more than $100.

What about the security against terrorists? There's no evidence that the new drivers' licencses will be more tamper-proof than the current ones. Think of all the people you know who had fake IDs in high school and college. Under the new system, it's not going to be any different. The fakes will still be out there, and if an 18-year-old can get a hold of one, you can bet determined terrorists will have no trouble at all.

Oh, and then there's identity theft. A very large percentage of the American population will have all of their personal information stored in one easy-to-use database system. It's a hacker’s dream.

Putting all these complaints together, you get very unhappy states and an unsuspecting public. And no funding to ease the pain. We've got an act that basically winds up creating a national ID card. Maybe we would have been better off coming out and calling it that in the first place.


"Show Me Your Papers"
By Robert Dreyfuss
May 09, 2005

In the wake of 9/11, a renewed push was launched for a bad, old idea: a national ID card. The Big Brother-style idea, scary to most Americans, was repeatedly rejected in the past, especially in the 1970s and 1980s, and polls show that it isn’t favored now. Led by Newt Gingrich and other authoritarian personalities, including Oracle’s Larry Ellison—who offered free software—there was an overt effort after 9/11 to enact it into law, but it died when it became clear that enthusiasm in Congress was lacking. Since then, backers reverted to a sly campaign to establish a “back door? national ID system, building on the idea of a single, national database of drivers licenses. In 2004, the chief sponsor of the latest effort, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R.-Wis., tried to include it in last year’s intelligence bill—but he failed then, too.

That latest scheme is the so-called “REAL ID? Act, stealthily attached to the $82 billion war funding bill approved by the House last week and now in the Senate. The Democrats are aware that filibustering a defense bill isn’t likely to happen, so stopping the REAL ID this time seems to depend on whether a handful of Republican senators opposed to the idea can convince Senate leaders not to include it. Their chances don’t look good, even though the list of list of organizations opposed to the “REAL ID? Act is literally too long to cite: More than 600 groups have announced their opposition, from the ACLU to the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislators to scores of Asian-American, Latino, Arab and other minority-related organizations to religious, labor, and civil rights groups of all kinds.

Some opponents make practical arguments against it: that it would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement, that it would create chaos and confusion at DMVs nationwide, and so on. Others warn that the act is anti-immigrant, since it targets asylum-seekers and, as The Washington Post editorialized, “will turn motor vehicle departments across the country into de facto enforcers of immigration law.? Josh Bernstein of the National Immigration Law Center calls REAL ID “the most extreme anti-immigrant legislation that has a good chance of passing in decades.? And others point out that REAL ID is a step toward a chilling, privacy-violating national ID card system that could one day have Americans being asked, Nazi-style, to “show us your papers? wherever they go. It could vastly accelerate the creation of one giant, government-owned database storing nearly unlimited quantities of personal, financial, medical and other records on citizens and non-citizens alike.

The REAL ID is posing as a weapon in the war against terrorism, but the history of the idea long predates the current preoccupation with the terrorist threat, and the provisions of the REAL ID Act seem to have more to do with anti-immigrant measures, wall-building in southern California, and the like than they do with forestalling another 9/11. Even its backers, including Sensenbrenner, fail to cite examples of Al Qaeda types who used fake driver's licenses to carry out acts of violence. Partly that’s because not a single act of terrorism has occurred in the United States in the nearly four years since 9/11. But that doesn’t stop Sensenbrenner from sounding as if terrorists are everywhere and only Real ID can stop them. Terrorists, he fulminates, have “'used almost every conceivable means of entering the country. … They have come as students, tourists, and business visitors. They have also been [legal permanent residents] and naturalized U.S. citizens. They have snuck across the border illegally, arrived as stowaways on ships, used false passports, and have been granted amnesty. Terrorists have even used America's humanitarian tradition of welcoming those seeking asylum. We must plug these gaps.?

Sensenbrenner and his allies plan to plug those gaps by rushing the bill though Congress without hearings, attaching it parasitically to the Iraq-Afghanistan spending bill. Like the PATRIOT Act—which was hustled through a terrified Congress in the dead of night just weeks after 9/11—REAL ID is likely to become law because members of Congress don’t have the guts to stand up to the White House and its continuing manipulation of fears about terrorism. It makes you wonder who really does “hate our freedoms.?

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Re: Real ID Slips Past the Senate in the Military Funding Bill

Security Practices and Security Culture

From "COINTELPRO: The Danger We Face"


An actual agent will often point the finger at a genuine, non-collaborating and highly valued group member, claiming that he or she is the infiltrator. The same effect, known as a "snitch jacket", has been achieved by planting forged documents . . .



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