Thursday, August 16, 2007

Incompetence is Dangerous

Signed back in 2005, The Real ID Act will institute a national identification policy like in some other countries. Instead of our state identifications, we will go to locations within our states or principalities (I'm still fighting for you, D.C.) and get these national cards. Anyway, by May 2008, assuming there are no injunctions or no one realizes how fucking dumb this is, if you do not have the new identification card, you will not be able to do anything on a domestic level. This includes going on domestic flights and entering national parks. The Department of Homeland Security claims that this is an important piece of legislation, one that will protect America from the threat offered by terrorism.

Now, this bill is ridiculous for a few different reasons. Firstly, this whole system is another layer of bureaucracy to the government. As I understand it, I would still have to be licensed in my own home state. So, adding another ID card to the one that is already accepted as a legal form of identification is pretty much pointless as I will still have to adhere to my own state laws.

Additionally, this new system that the government wants is not going to be funded by the government. In fact, it will be funded by the state taxpayers who will only have their privacy invaded by the approach of the government on this issue. This program is meant to cost 23 Billion; the government has only funded 40 Million. As you can well figure if you live in a state, your state cannot afford this program. They will have to build new systems and hire new workers at a great cost to them, a cost that will transfer to you, the taxpaying American citizen. And, if there is one thing that people hate more than terrorists, it's new taxes.

If this weren't all enough, it will not even be adhered to by all the states. Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Washington are all refusing to sign on to the system. Another six have stated opposition to the bill. Another 15 are considering legislation against the Act as well. As your basic math skills can prove, that's 56% of the country (28/50) who are in disagreement with this act. Along with national disapproval, I'm going to note my own personal disapproval here. Mine stems from the fact that this system is redundant. If you want people to prove they are American citizens, make them get a passport. Also, getting an ID in a state isn't easy. As someone who did it very recently, you need a lot of paperwork and your paperwork has to be consistent. It's not as easy as the government would make you believe.

Actually, all of these logistical things are really only secondary to my main complaint with this bill, which comes in the justification from Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff. In an article from CNN, Chertoff justifies the new system as such:

"For terrorists, travel documents are like weapons," Chertoff said. "We do have a right and an obligation to see that those licenses reflect the identity of the person who's presenting it."

Chertoff said the Real ID program is essential to national security because there are presently 8,000 types of identification accepted to enter the United States.

"It is simply unreasonable to expect our border inspectors to be able to detect forgeries on documents that range from baptismal certificates from small towns in Texas to cards that purport to reflect citizenship privileges in a province somewhere in Canada," he said.

I hope that you have noticed the glaring gap in logic here. For those of you who may have missed it, giving Americans new identification doesn't seal the border off from the threat of terrorism. In fact, it does nothing at all except inconvenience Americans. Foreign travelers can still enter the country under little scrutiny. I'm not sure how giving the country "Real ID" will actually make it safer. But, then again, this is a guy who told America to watch out for a terrorist attack because he felt it in his gut. Clearly, Chertoff is a man that can be trusted to tell it to us raw and uncut. Unfortunately, Chertoff, frequently, fails to speak with his head.