"Real ID Act" Violates Human Freedom and Personal Privacy
Mon Apr 2, 2007 15:35
 

 
Publication of American Policy Center
Tom DeWeese - President
Kathy Lehman - Editor
http://www.americanpolicy.org/

"Real ID Act" Violates Human Freedom and Personal Privacy, and Must be Repealed!

We have a real chance to repeal the Real ID Act, a federal law scheduled to impose a de facto national ID card on every American by May, 2008.

The Act will require every person in the country to have a Real ID-compliant identification document. Without it, you can't drive a car, board a train or plane, buy tobacco, alcohol, or a gun. You need identification to vote, open a bank account, or cash a check. You even need it to get a job.

Many states are in revolt. State legislators in Maine and Idaho recently rejected participation in the ID scheme. Significantly, they rejected Big Brother's usurpation of their power not just because of the very high cost, but because of the privacy issues. Twenty-eight other states have joined the rebellion, with more expected in the coming weeks.

Resistance to Real ID is growing, and it isn't just ordinary Americans that are balking. According to the Congressional Record of April 20, 2005, "every Senator ... received a letter opposing the REAL ID Act from the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of State Governments, and the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators."

Most troubling for many is that the requirement for "Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes" is so broad that the Homeland Secretary may read it to include fingerprints, or scans of the iris or retina, or even DNA.

Provisions in the REAL ID Act could also provide the tools necessary for a backdoor introduction of gun control. The bill grants the Homeland Secretary the power to determine what one needs to do to get a driver's license - and who may or may not get one. Since Americans now need a drivers' license to purchase a gun, DHS would also have the ability to control who can exercise their gun rights.

Under the law, states have to set up new computerized databases that share personal details of ID card holders with other states, the federal government, and the states and provinces of Mexico and Canada. But regulations cannot protect the privacy of these records (there isn't even an encryption requirement), opening the door to identity theft or governmental abuses on a potentially massive scale.

Somehow overlooked is the fact that when Congress established the Department of Homeland Security it made very clear that DHS could not do what is now proposed. Here is the language:


US Homeland Security Act (2002)
Sect. 554 National Identification System Not Authorized
"Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the development of a national identification system or card."


This week, the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Vice President for Policy, Wayne Crews, expressed what he sees as drawbacks to federalizing ID standards. "The first troubling aspect of the license provisions is the requirement that states link their identity databases and join a proposed interstate compact dubbed the "Driver License Agreement." This would enable states and provinces of Mexico and Canada to join in this database without further input from the Congress. Making Americans' sensitive identity information available to foreign government officials is not a sensible or coherent method for making Americans safe."

It's naive and even dangerous to believe that laws are capable of keeping guns off the streets, drugs out of prisons, or counterfeit treasury bills out of circulation. All the Kings Men won't be able to devise an ID that is impervious to the creative efforts of very motivated criminal forgers.

If someone is a suicidal terrorist, they can, and will, pop up anywhere. If someone is willing to lose their life in the process of killing others - in the belief that their cause is eminently just and that they will receive eternal reward - what then? Let's be honest - surveillance provides valuable assets for forensics after a crime, but offers little in stopping a determined terrorist.

You've seen the film of some of the 9/11 hijackers going through a security checkpoint and presenting their IDs at Logan Airport in Boston. They had no difficulty obtaining fraudulent IDs. They had no difficulty getting into the United States. And catching them on film didn't protect one person.

The Real ID Act is bad public policy. There were no hearings or floor debate. Not one Senator voted against it. But two years later, skepticism on Capitol Hill about the wildly controversial Real ID rules is gaining momentum.

There are bills now offered in both the Senate and the House supposedly to repeal implementation of the Real ID Act. However, if you read them, you'll find they're lousy bills, offering the states grants totaling $300 million annually to implement Real ID. These are NOT genuine repeal efforts. Implementation of the Real ID Act will not make us safe, and it cannot be fixed. The real problem is the law itself. The Real ID Act must be repealed.

ACTION TO TAKE:

At this point the momentum in the Real ID issue is with us. Congress is showing signs of willingness to actually get rid of it. Now is the time for a full court Repeal press.

Our greatest strength in stopping the Real ID is the opposition in the states. We need to pour fire on that growing rebellion to assure more states rise up with resolutions to refuse to go along with the law.

1. Contact your state legislators, insisting they pass legislation strictly prohibiting compliance with the Real ID Act. Maine and Idaho already have, and a growing majority of the other states are on the same path. You can find contact information for every state legislature here: www.statelocalgov.net

The opposition from the states appears to have had a chilling effect on Capitol Hill. They need to be strongly encouraged to get in front of the repeal parade.

2. Contact your Congressional representatives, insisting they REPEAL the Real ID Act. Tell them not to support any bill that attempts to "fix" the many and dangerous infirmities in the Act. Tell your Congressmen the Real ID Act violates your human freedom and personal privacy. The entire concept of the law is wrong.

Phone calls and letters are the most effective way to contact your elected representatives. E-mails and faxes are many times ignored. Members of Congress have been changing their e-mail addresses and fax numbers when we send out alerts. If you prefer, though, you can send an e-mail by going to each member's website at www.thomas.gov

3. Focus your contact on minority leadership, and your own Representative. Rep. John Boehner is the House Minority Leader. The Minority Leader office number is (202) 225-4000; Rep. Boehner's regular office number is (202) 225-6205. Sen. Mitch McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. His office number is (202) 224-2541.

Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate or House office you request.

If you choose to write, and do not know your Congressman's and Senators' mailing addresses, you may simply address your letters as follows:

Office of Congressman (Name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

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"Hallowed Ground" Land Grab is Back And On Fast Track In Congress


U.S. Representative Frank Wolf's (R-VA) controversial Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area Act is nothing more than private property targeted by environmentalists and the National Park Service for regulation and land acquisition. The proposed National Heritage Area (NHA) does NOT enjoy the broad local support that its supporters claim. Yet it has passed out of committee in both the House and Senate, and could come up for a vote in the Senate at any time.

Rep. Wolf's legislation, H.R. 319, would create a 175-mile long preservation zone, stretching across four states, from central Virginia through West Virginia and Maryland and into southern Pennsylvania. The Act purports to preserve a significant portion of Civil War battlegrounds and increase tourism to the area. But with preservationist groups and the National Park Service directed to create a "management" plan, including an "inventory" of all property in the area that should be targeted for preservation, the NHA would more likely result in strict land use restrictions or outright land acquisition.

"Heritage Areas are permanent units of the National Park Service from their moment of inception," according to Peyton Knight. Knight is Director of Environmental and Regulatory Affairs for the National Center for Public Policy Research, and arguably the nation's leading expert on National Heritage Areas.

"Heritage Areas are federal land use mandates foisted upon local communities," Knight said. "Heritage Areas have boundaries, and those boundaries have consequences for property owners unfortunate enough to reside within them."

When an area becomes an NHA, the Park Service partners with an environmental special interest group to "preserve," "support," "conserve," "protect" and "interpret" anything and everything. Language in H.R. 319 would "promote heritage, cultural and recreational tourism", "develop educational and cultural programs", "recognize and interpret important events and geographic locations", "recognize and interpret the … Civil War … and post-war reconstruction", and "enhance a cooperative management framework" over every square inch with the NHA boundary. But property rights protections are nowhere to be found.

The original bill contained a "private property protection" section that actually did little to protect property rights. Yet, even that weak protection was then stripped from the bill by the Dems on the House Resources Committee, with Wolf's blessing.
But the real danger comes under the "management entity" having authority to disburse federal moneys to entice state and local governments to create local zoning laws which technically are not part of the heritage area, but the zoning laws are only put in place because of it. It gives them plausible deniability and conditions favorable to their plans for the land.

The bill failed in the last session of Congress. But someone on the Appropriations Committee attached a one million-dollar earmark into the 2005 federal transportation bill to fund (with YOUR tax dollars) the principal lobbying group, the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Foundation.

Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) has introduced an alternative bill, H.R. 1270, to address some of the concerns identified in the Wolf bill about rights of landowners, federal overreach and pork-barrel earmarks. The Bartlett bill provides transparency, requiring that property owners be notified, in writing, of any pending Heritage Area designation that would encompass their land. It also would require local governments wishing to participate in the NHA to provide fair market value compensation to property owners in their jurisdiction if their property is devalued as a result of government action. The Wolf bill does not include any of these provisions.

Rather than give Congressman Bartlett's legislation its due consideration, the Democratic majority (at the strong urging of Rep. Wolf) opted to ignore the concerns of Congressman Bartlett and many others.

Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), a member of the House Committee on Resources, recently made several excellent points while discussing a similar NHA bill. Rep. Bishop pointed out:

"At a time when the National Park Service is trying to reduce the maintenance backlog at existing park units (estimated at $3 billion by the GAO in 2003), I question the responsibility of further increasing their burden by creating another National Park."
"We are often told that we should support heritage areas because they are preferable to designating National Parks (but) we can see clearly that this is not the case. In fact, it would appear that the designation of a heritage area is now the first step to designating another National Park."

Rep. Wolf's bill, H.R. 319, is a bad bill. And worse, if it passes, it will significantly grease the skids for a much more dangerous bill, S. 278, the National Heritage Areas Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY). Currently in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, if this bill is enacted, it will establish a permanent NHA program under the National Park Service.

ACTION TO TAKE:

Congress is not known for its defense of landowners' rights, and it loves feel-good "environmental" programs and pork-barrel spending; both attract lots of squeaky wheels.

1. Become a squeaky wheel yourself. Tell your Congressmen that you oppose H.R. 319 and S. 278 because they represent more federal grabs of private property and will only serve to fill the pockets of special interest groups with federal (YOUR) tax dollars. Then tell them a better bill is Roscoe Bartlett's H.R. 1270 because it better protects private property while honoring the historic events that occurred there.

Phone calls and letters are the most effective way to contact Congress. E-mails and faxes are many times ignored. Members of Congress have been changing their e-mail addresses and fax numbers when we send out alerts. If you prefer, though, you can send an e-mail by going to each member's website at www.thomas.gov

2. Focus your contact on minority leadership, and your own Representative. Rep. John Boehner is the House Minority Leader. The Minority Leader office number is (202) 225-4000; Rep. Boehner's regular office number is (202) 225-6205. Sen. Mitch McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader. His office number is (202) 224-2541.

Alternatively, you may phone the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121. A switchboard operator will connect you directly with the Senate or House office you request.

If you choose to write, and do not know your Congressman's and Senators' mailing addresses, you may simply address your letters as follows:

Office of Congressman (Name)
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Office of Senator (Name)
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510
http://www.americanpolicy.org/

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