Last week was enough to give even the most jaded political observer a headache and upset stomach.
In addition to dealing with Dick’s delusions (wherein he is the great and all powerful Oz) the US Supreme Court took a hard right. The latest reports on rising death tolls in Iraq and Afganistan were released. And let’s not forget the Immigration Reform bill, which apparently has more lives than a cunning alley cat. You think it’s dead but… nope, here it comes again.
Last week, the bill was brought back to life for a short period before finally declared done, over, stick a fork in it for the session. Unfortunately, the short-resurrection didn’t prevent my inbox from filling up with dire warnings about the possibility of a National (Real) ID. Most of the emails were something along the lines: America is attempting to invade your privacy. A new REAL ID bill would require all Americans to carry an National ID card. We must stop this: Go to http://www.i-speed-read-wapo.com or http://www.skimmed-the- headlines-on-a-watchdog-site. net and sign a petition or fax your elected officials, whose names we don’t know!
Where were you people in 2005?
I shall type slow so this will sink in. The United States has already enacted this law. The REAL ID Act of 2005 was tacked onto a war-funding and foreign aid bill titled Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief. (FYI: The legislation passed with overwhelming Republican support and was favored by all 9 Congressmen from the state of Tennessee.)
When the bill was tacked onto the Senate appropriations bill, as a rider: 12 senators sent a letter to then Majority Leader Bill Frist expressing their disapproval.
“Because of its [Real ID Act] magnitude, this legislation should be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee on a schedule that provides adequate time for full and careful consideration,” the letter said. “Legislating in such a complex area without the benefit of hearings and expert testimony is a dubious exercise and one that subverts the Senate’s deliberative process. “
The letter was signed by Senators John McCain, R-Ariz., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., John Sununu, R-N.H., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Ken Salazar, D-Colo. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., Joe Lieberman, D-Conn.
Maybe Frist didn’t read the letter or the Senators didn’t pay correct postage – because the act was added, approved and without debate.
The law was initially scheduled to go into effect December 2008 – but funding was problematic. The new identification system carried an estimated price tag of $17.2-23.1 billion.
Twenty-eight states, including Tennessee, have rejected the law and called for a repeal. Reasons for non-compliance cited are unreasonable fiscal burden of unfunded mandate, breach of individual privacy and risk of making citizens increasingly vulnerable to ID theft. As a result, in March of this year (2007) mandatory compliance was postponed.
This is not a plan the government has opted to scrap. Quite the opposite. The Department of Homeland Security and ID proponents are scratching their heads, holding meetings, crunching numbers and if they do work out a compromise, those states who continue to reject the program by seeking waivers will make their residents non-existent persons – unable to drive, travel or perform related activities outside the state’s borders.
Here’s the catch – ID is a crucial element in stopping illegal immigrants from seeking and gaining employment in the US. Employers need some clear method of determining if a resident is eligible for employment or deportation. Of course, a basic all-in-one Real ID wouldn’t solve the problem and would only serve to boost the businesses of counterfeiters. So, most experts agree that the only accurate and unforgeable (at least until someone steals the technology) method of identification is biometric.
This would involve a massive data-gathering program that involves every U.S. citizen and then secure storage of that data. Of course, there is a gray area in the Real ID Act which would allow these biometric identifiers to be collected for every American. (Security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes.) And we are gradually being sold the idea that biometric identification is “necessary” and “unobtrusive.”
Your information will be secure and not be used inappropriately – and we need biometric identification to make us safe, protect the borders, keep the
bad people out, solidify the country and make it strong. (cue: God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood) All the cool people, including Paris Hilton and Fred Thompson, will have biometric IDs, which could come in your choice of four fashionable background colors. I’ll bet researchers may even find that repeated use of biometric ID could reduce wrinkles, decrease appearance of cellulite, make men smarter, make women quieter, ward off disease, help cope with feelings of depression and anxiety or enable you to sustain an erection.
Bob Dole will have a biometrics ID card.
Even Mickey Mouse does biometrics.
It’s done. Deal with it.