Showdown: The Final Battle Against REAL ID Has Begun
The national ID battle, brewing for years, is now underway in earnest.
On January 11, the Department of Homeland Security released its final rules on what states must do to implement REAL ID, the national identification law Congress passed in 2005.
Homeland Security has taken the gloves off. States have until May to accept the plan. Beginning May 11, 2008, says Homeland Security, residents of states that have not agreed to implement REAL ID will not be allowed to use their state drivers licenses to board airplanes or enter federal buildings. They can use a U.S. passport or possibly other documents in some circumstances, but they must expect to "suffer delays due to the requirement for enhanced security screening." In other words, take your shoes off, pal, and get in that LONG LONG line over there.
In practice, it may be impossible even to get a job or open a bank account without REAL ID. REAL ID is widely expected to become the standard ID for the private sector.
And that's just the start. Homeland Security is already floating additional uses for the cards, including "reducing unlawful employment, voter fraud, and underage drinking," and monitoring the purchase of over-the-counter medicines. The REAL ID Act explicitly says that REAL IDs shall be required for "any other purposes that the Secretary [of Homeland Security] shall determine." A more open-ended grant of power could not be written.
Like so much recent statist legislation, REAL ID was sneaked into law. It was slipped into a May 2005 emergency-spending bill to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and provide tsunami relief. Such bills are almost impossible to defeat. It passed the House 368-58 and the Senate unanimously. There was not a single debate on the Act in the Senate, and insufficient discussion in the House. President Bush, who, his spokespersons once said, "does not support a national ID card," strongly backed it and quickly signed it into law.
As this battle begins in earnest, state by state, no one should be fooled into thinking REAL ID has anything to do with fighting terrorism. The federal government has pushed for a national ID card for years, well before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Previous justifications have included health care, the War on Drugs, protecting children, and controlling immigration. Any excuse, it seems, will do. This is all about massive, Orwellian control of Americans by a federal government run amok.
REAL ID is a Real Bad Idea: a giant move towards a 1984-ish police state where the government monitors and controls everything you say and do.
It can still be stopped. But it's now or never.
Please read the whole article at The Liberator Online.