More States Join In Battle to Stop National ID Card
States Battling National ID
By Mark Anderson
A Pennsylvania legislative committee’s hearing on March 13 about the so-called Real ID Act was packed with people—most of whom oppose this federal legislation to create a national identification system by nationalizing a new form of state-issued drivers licenses and loading them with sensitive personal information.
Only two members of the 29-member Intergovernmental Affairs Committee showed up to hear the public, even though many citizens went to much expense to be there. The regular media also were absent.
Aaron Bollinger, the nation’s leading anti-Real ID activist, who chairs the National Veterans Committee for Constitutional Affairs, was on the scene, where public sentiment against Real ID was clearly evident in a state that’s considered a key battleground in the sustained effort to defeat the state-by-state implementation of the Real law.
This 2005 law is one of several recommendations of the vaunted 9-11 Commission, whose findings are considered by informed researchers as woefully incomplete and flawed.
“A member of the Lancaster Amish community traveled all the way—about three hours—to Pittsburgh to get out his message,” Bollinger told AFP. The Amish man’s message regarding existing drivers licenses was:
“How PennDOT [state transportation department] is violating existing state law by refusing to issue drivers licenses to those legitimate American citizens [such as the Amish] who do not have Social Security numbers.”
Democratic Committee Chairman W. Curtis Thomas and State Rep. Jim Marshall, a Republican, were the only legislators to show up. Bollinger therefore sees the need for a serious letter-writing/phone-call campaign, to ask the other committee members where they were that day.
“After all, they need to see public sentiment. Guess it wasn’t important enough to them,” Bollinger commented. Notably, Bollinger on March 11 was the first guest on this AFP writer’s new radio show, When Worlds Collide, which runs Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Central Time on the Republic Broadcasting Network (republicbroadcasting.org). Bollinger announced that he holds a teleconference-style “town hall meeting” most Tuesday evenings to discuss the Real ID issue among existing activists and to recruit additional interested citizens to fight Real ID.
Bollinger describes the effort for a seamless national ID system as a Soviet-style “your papers, please” concept that could be a handy tracking tool for would-be tyrants.
“Real ID is not about security,” he said during a self-made press conference, filmed the day of the committee’s hearing because no media were present. “It’s about making money and controlling people.”
Revealingly, Bolinger noted that the company selling the lucrative Real ID technology (biometrics etc for the proposed Real ID compatible cards) to several states, including Pennsylvania, is the Visage Corporation, whose parent company, L-1 Identity Solutions, includes on its board of directors former CIA Director George Tenet, as well as James Loy, former deputy director of the Department of Homeland Security. A former L-1 board member is ex-FBI Director Louis Freeh.
There are only three main companies—Digimark, Visage and Identix—that market this sort of thing. And Identix was just bought by L-1. “The ‘biometric trinity’ would be a good way to put it,” said Bolinger.
This is all very significant, since the creation of the DHS itself, like Real ID, was an outgrowth of the 9-11 Commission’s advice for the nation on how to be more secure after the events of 9-11-01; moreover, the DHS is the very agency writing the regulations for the design of the Real ID card—the juiced-up drivers license that likely would make us even more vulnerable to identity theft.
According to retired Navy commander James R. Compton III, who also spoke at the press conference, identity theft is the nation’s fastest growing crime, and the Real ID system is fraught with risk.
“Your name, address, gender, signature etc all go into a data base—in addition to your Social Security number,” he said. “Your SSN is not on your [Real ID] drivers license, but it is in the database.” He postulated a scenario in which someone with access to the data is propositioned into trading a list of possibly thousands of card holders—containing all this personal information—in exchange for money.
“That’s a common thing these days,” said Bolinger. “About 250 blank Visage cards for drivers licenses actually were stolen from PennDOT.”
Stolen blank cards are sold to make counterfeit cards. Bolinger and Compton were accompanied at their conference by Pam Irwin of the American Civil Liberties Union, which shows that concerns over Real ID transcend ideological lines.
“I don’t care why they [the ACLU and other unlikely bedfellows] don’t like Real ID, as long as it’s defeated,” Bollinger said on the RBN radio show.
As of March 18, about 81 Pennsylvania House members supported HB 1351 to keep their state out of the Real ID system. There are 203 House members, and the number of opponents there is climbing. And about one-third of the state senators support a similar bill, SB 1220.
The North Carolina Legislature is set to convene, and opponents there are working to influence the process. The most solid “rebel states” so far are Montana, Maine, New Hampshire and South Carolina. They have passed laws firmly against participation, whereas 17 more states have passed softer anti-Real ID resolutions.
West Virginia’s Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill to ban that state from participating in the federal act. Perhaps the only way Real ID could be implemented nationwide is if it’s passed off as “constitutional” because it’s “voluntary.”
But Bollinger noted, “The only way to win is to prevail upon the states not to volunteer.” For more information go to NVCCA.net, restoretherepublic.com, or realnightmare.org.
Conference calls involving Real ID opponents are held most Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. EST. To participate, dial 724-444-7444, then enter the caller ID 14259 followed by the # sign and, finally, enter 1 and the # sign.
Reach Corresponding Editor Mark Anderson at email@example.com
(Issue # 14 & 15, April 7 & 14, 2008)