Sunday, June 14, 2009

Real ID Revisited

A small glimmer of good sense has been noted in Washington, DC: the national ID program initiated by the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11 is going to be tinkered with by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano. As the governor of Arizona she fought hard against the federal plan, so it's no surprise that she is taking the stance that she is. Nearly a quarter of the states' governors objected to the "unfunded mandate" and the federal intrusion into what has traditionally been individual state's rights to determine just what adequate identification for that state should be.

From today's Washington Post:

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, $4 billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID, which calls for placing more secure licenses in the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano's Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow. ...

The new plan keeps elements of Real ID, such as requiring a digital photograph, signature and machine-readable features such as a bar code. States also will still need to verify applicants' identities and legal status by checking federal immigration, Social Security and State Department databases.

But it eliminates demands for new databases -- linked through a national data hub -- that would allow all states to store and cross-check such information, and a requirement that motor vehicle departments verify birth certificates with originating agencies, a bid to fight identity theft.

Instead, it adds stronger privacy controls and limits such development to a pilot program in Mississippi. DHS would have nine months to write new regulations, and states would have five years to reissue all licenses, with completion expected in 2016.
[Emphasis added]

While we're still going to have what one critic called "National ID lite", at least the new system will make it more difficult for the federal government to track the location of its citizens at any given moment (I think the elimination of that national data "hub" is crucial), and it will also take into consideration the right to privacy of each citizen carrying the new Real IDs.

The best part of this news, however, is that it provides another distraction to the mouth breathers in Congress who were about to run out of things to howl about.

The new plan would still let people get licenses with fake documents, said Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who authored the 2005 legislation. "We go right back to where we were on Sept. 10, 2001," he said, "Maybe governors should have been in the Capitol when we knew a plane was on its way to Washington wanting to kill a few thousand more people."

When all else fails, all they have left from their bankrupt philosophy is "9/11!"

Oh, brave Sir Robin.

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