National ID Cards Are Coming - Smile!

Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 09:46 am

The consequences of legislation winding its way through Congress are not explicit. What is either explicit, or is clearly a consequence of the legislation, is that the Executive Branch of the Federal government will for the first time in our history be authorized to maintain a dossier on every American citizen. What data is collected and kept is not reviewable by Congress nor the Courts. What data is collected and how that information is used is within the sole discretion of the Executive, specifically the Secretary of Homeland Security.

By creating a national database the power of the Federal government over the lives of the States and citizens would be at the very least, immense. The computational power of systems such as those used by NSA, would make it possible for government to have at its fingertips almost unlimited information on every citizen in the country from birth to death. This is a power that far exceeds that of the FBI, or The Plumbers ... and it is outside the prevue of Congress or the Courts. We need to fear the Law of Unintended Consequences, and the failings of mortal men who are given great powers without adequate checks.

Once in place, everyone who is a citizen of the United States will have an identity card linked to extensive personal information. The purpsoe of the system is to make available to Federal officers a wide range of information on citizens that may be useful in identifying security risks. If one didn't have identity papers, that in itself would be presumptive evidence that the individual was not a citizen of the United States ... after all the explicite purpose of the system is to clearly identify who is a citizen and who is not. No I.D., then the individual is presumed to be a non-citizen. The burden of proof of citizenship shifts from the government to the individual (that alone should scare the dickens out of us all). It can be argued that Constitutitional rights only apply to U.S. Citizens. Hence no identification papers, no Constitutional rights. Now I'm sure that isn't the intent, but it is the highly probable un-intended consequence of this legislation.

Why is it so hard to imagine that the Secretary of Homeland Security might want to know a citizen's political or religious affiliations? Wouldn't membership in the Weather Underground, or SDS, or Hamas, or Al Quida be of interest? Aren't people motivated to terrorist violence by some branches of some religions? Since the executive can, at his own discretion, determine what data should be a part of the database why suppose that that power will be strictly limited and not abused? Once the power of international radical Islamic terrorism is broken, as it will be, what is the next terrorist threat? Once this thing gets started it won't be easily stopped. One keeps the genji locked-up inside a bottle for good reason.

Sorry for taking so long to respond, but I'm currently very sick with a chest cold and spend most of my time being miserable.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 09:49 am
Then you can get one, McG.

As for the rest of us, we should be able to refuse having all of our personal data held in a government database and being subjected to prying government eyes without losing our freedom tolive and move about within our own country.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 11:11 am
But, how will the information get into the datbase that says what party a person belongs to, what religion they are, what websites they visit?

The governmet already has the information that would be on a national ID card at their fingertips. I see no new information that would need to be given that is not already readily accessible from any governmental agency in the country.

They have your place, date and time of birth. They have all the information about every job you have had that has paid taxes. They have your entire tax history. They have your credit history. They have your social security number. They have your childrens and parents information as well. They have your phone records.

I do not understand what information you have left that they would care about that they do not already have if they cared enough to look for it.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 11:19 am
McGentrix wrote:
if they cared enough to look for it.

If we have learned anything from the fiascos at the FBI, they could not find it even when they cared to look for it. It will now all be in one dossier.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 12:25 pm
1. We are not currently required to carry Federal identity papers. The practical effect of this legislation would be that every citizen would have to carry their identity cards everywhere, or become a hermit who might at anytime be force to prove their citizenship.

2. Currently all that data is in separate databases, and sharing the information is restricted by law. This law increases the power of the Executive Branch Federal government, while reducing the soverenty of the States over what documents are issued, the requirements for issuance, and what data would be collected in the process. Creation of a single national database containing data/information that currently is scattered mades the holder of the information immensely more powerful. This legislation makes recovery of all those little tid-bits of information on a person EASY to access by government agents.

3. You ask how will information, such as religion or political affiliation get into the database. All the Secretary of Homeland Security has to do is authorize inclusion of anything he might think relevant and pertinent to national security. The individual might be required to add that to the application for identity papers, or the data might be taken from other databases, or data might come from reports by field agents. Once the government decides it wants some data, this law gives them carte blanche to get it ... no court order needed, and no appeals.

4. Once again, McG ... This legislation is dangerous because it puts the power to gather, store, manipulate and use a vast body of information on every citizen into the hands of the Executive branch. Who would you trust completely to never abuse that power over individuals, or the system itself? George Washington maybe? This legislation represents a sea-change in how the American political process will function, and will seriously erode our most precious rights enshrined in the Constitution. We conservatives have been adament about protecting our individual rights, and this legislation would quietly choke the life out of them. No need to register guns, they would probably be in your dossier. What editor would care to anger the Executive, knowing that his life is within their hands? Who would hire a person who refused to comply with the law? No identity papers, no citizen rights. Show your identity before voting, before applying to college, and when you decide to move from one town to another. Oh you might be able to do it, but only with difficulty and always with the presumption that you are a security risk to the nation .... or is that the government.

I might be wrong in my assessment, but should we take such a risk without the most thorough public debate? Once liberty is gone, it would be difficult to get it back. We are stewards of this system of our fathers, and we should not let it be carelessly spent before being handed down to our grandchildren.
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 08:12 pm
Asherman, what information could be on or associated a national ID card that is not on these?
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 08:41 pm
I didn't see medical records, telephone number, social security number, state of birth, mothers maiden name, or a whole host of other info that could now be required.

Some of the things you mentioned earlier that the government has access to already are actually things that would require a search warrant, and a show cause before a judge or magistrate. Now Homeland Security can require that info be included in a readable strip without having to show cause.

I think Asherman has said it all very well. This is not a good thing, and we should all be concerned. Maybe you trust the current administration. Maybe you trust the head of Homeland security with all of this information about you.

Will you trust the next guy?
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Reply Thu 12 May, 2005 08:48 pm
I don't trust any politician.

I see no harm, in so much as I have read about the national ID program, in having a single identification card.

So far, it seems that the main issue lies in the questionable database that seems to have cocerned so many folks.

Just for arguements sake, If the national ID is nothing more than that, a national ID, would the concern be as grave? If the information on the national ID is the same as found on a drivers license and associated application, would it be as bad?
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Reply Fri 13 May, 2005 03:52 pm
I believe Belgium has a current national ID program. Anyone know how that works for them?

Also, I do believe that a national ID was one of the many recommendations from the 9-11 commission. Who was it, not too long ago saying the recommendations of that commission should be followed?
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Reply Sat 14 May, 2005 05:47 am
Belgium has nice waffles.
But isn't the USA unique
in how we legislate and control our people?

Someone recommended that we be a free country.
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Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 03:41 am
Funny, they are staunchly against gun registration, but have no objections to registering our person. I wouldn't be surprised if they made fingerprinting on a national ID a requirement. How are they going to keep people in a crowd from reading the RF information with a portable reader? They won't need to touch the card to scan it if it's emitting an RF signal.

Also, will we get to know what information they are putting on those cards about us?

This sucks!!! I'm moving to Switzerland!
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Reply Sun 15 May, 2005 06:54 am
Better check whether Switzerland requires an identity card. Before you move. As well as how immigrant friendly it is?
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Reply Fri 20 May, 2005 05:47 am
Well, it's done and Bush is saying he will sign it.

Ready for your own all-new, sinister ID card, courtesy of Homeland Security? Shudder
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Reply Sat 21 May, 2005 09:44 am
DHS Arrests 60 Illegals in Sensitive Jobs

By John Mintz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, May 21, 2005; Page A03

The Department of Homeland Security yesterday arrested 60 illegal immigrants who worked at 12 critical infrastructure sites in six states, including seven petrochemical refineries, three electric power plants and a pipeline facility.

There is no evidence that any of the workers -- who come from Mexico, Honduras and Guatemala -- have any terrorist ties, said officials with the DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

But officials said there is reason to be concerned about their presence at those sites nonetheless.

The immigrants arrested "pose a serious homeland security threat," Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Michael J. Garcia said in a statement. "Not only are their identities in question, but given their illegal status, these individuals are vulnerable to potential exploitation by terrorist and other criminal organizations."

Some of those arrested could face criminal charges of using fraudulent documents to get the jobs or reentering the country after deportation, officials said.

The sweep is part of a larger ICE initiative over the past two years to remove illegal immigrants working at sensitive infrastructure locations. About 1,100 undocumented workers have been arrested at airports alone. Most of the sites in this week's crackdown are in Texas and California, with others in Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kentucky and Louisiana.

The workers were all employed by Brock Enterprises of Beaumont, Tex., which provides maintenance workers to nuclear plants, chemical manufacturers and other industries. The company cooperated in the probe and is not a target of the investigation, ICE officials said. Many of the workers got the jobs by presenting phony documents to a hiring consulting firm that worked for Brock, officials said.

"These sorts of cases may be high-profile, but they're unlikely to make the country more secure," said Susan F. Martin, a Georgetown University immigration expert. "What's needed is a much more comprehensive reform of immigration policies" to help employers know whether someone is authorized to work.
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Reply Tue 24 May, 2005 05:12 am
The UK "gets' it.

Gwyneth Dunwoody, the redoubtable Labour MP for Crewe and Nantwich, told him in no uncertain terms that there were Labour MPs who were seriously concerned about ID cards: "There are some of us in this house who are deeply uneasy about this scheme, who believe that it is a question of civil rights.

"It is one that disturbs us very greatly and the history of police forces or governments holding every element of information about people's lives is not that they are always used responsibly, but used in some instances by governments for the worst possible reasons," she said.

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Reply Wed 25 May, 2005 10:05 am
Tony Blair's government, re-elected this month with a sharply reduced majority, is making a new attempt to get one of its most controversial pieces of legislation through parliament: the introduction of a national identity card.

The identity cards bill is a battleground in a wider struggle between the defenders of civil liberties and what they see as an increasingly authoritarian government.

It is only one element in a huge programme of security and crime legislation scheduled for the next 18 months.

Two issues are most commonly cited in official justification. According to the Home Secretary (Interior Minister), Charles Clarke: "ID cards will help tackle illegal immigration as well as support the work of the law enforcement agencies in tackling the ever present threat of terrorism."

But the head of the civil rights group Liberty, Shami Chakrabarti, described the government's programme as: "More tough talk and bad law... revealing a chronic lack of respect for our democratic traditions."

The argument over identity cards may strike many foreign observers as peculiar, especially in continental Europe where they are long established.

US distrust

The French embassy in London seemed bemused at being asked whether anybody in France objected to identity cards. They were an accepted fact of life and they allowed you to travel in other European Union countries without a passport - that was the message.

British passport
In many European countries, people use an ID card for travelling
In Germany, everyone has to carry an ID card from the age of 16. A German diplomat told me: "Nobody thinks about it, nobody questions it... if you're in trouble, you just show it... we don't mind giving information if it's necessary."

A more marked distrust of government intrusion is evident in the United States, which like Britain has no nationwide system of identity cards.

People asked for ID will typically produce a driving licence. And a national identity card has not figured among the security measures introduced by the Bush administration since the attacks of 11 September 2001.

In Britain, an opinion poll suggested that 80% of people supported the introduction of ID cards. But opposition is being voiced on multiple grounds.

The traditional objection of the free-born Englishman, as he would see himself, is summed up in the sentence: "Why should I have to prove who I am?"

That may seem a little incongruous in a country with an estimated 4m closed-circuit cameras monitoring the population. But the independent Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, recently highlighted the dangers of the state collecting too much information about its citizens.

Privacy issues

Mr Thomas said the phenomenon had "a strong continental European flavour", citing the example of communist east Europe and fascist Spain in the 20th century.

The government knows it faces another rebellion against the identity card bill among its own supporters.

The veteran Labour member of parliament, Gwyneth Dunwoody, said she was greatly disturbed, since "the history of police forces or governments holding every element or information about people's lives is that... they are used in some instances by governments for the worst possible reasons".

The bill limits the information that can be held on the ID card data base, the National Identity Register, to relatively few items - notably, name, date and place of birth, address, nationality, immigration status and physical characteristics.

Biometric ID data on computer screen
The biometric cards will include fingerprints
New legislation would be needed to extend the list - for example to financial and medical information, employment history or criminal records.

The same would apply before any move to make identity cards compulsory. Attempting further reassurance, the government emphasises that in any event people would not have to carry one with them.

But every official justification meets objections from civil rights campaigners and others.

Blair's legacy

On fighting terrorism, they say that terrorists either have legitimate identification documents or can forge them; the problem is knowing who is planning an attack. The government has given no proper explanation of how ID cards will help.

On immigration, the critics say ID cards would be of no use in tracking down illegal immigrants or failed asylum seekers - except in a police state carrying out repeated identity checks on the whole population.

On fraudulent claims for welfare benefits, they argue that in nearly all cases people are lying about their health or economic circumstances, not their identity.

And so on.

Then there are practical objections about the cost and feasibility of another huge computerisation project, given a recent history of near fiascos in the public sector.

Richard Thomas complained of a lack of clarity, with the government changing its line about the exact purpose of identity cards. And one information technology consultant said that having no clearly set objective was a recipe for disaster.

"I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole," the consultant said, "because the business requirement hasn't been defined and they're bound to change it along the way."

What is clear, though, is that for Tony Blair the introduction of identity cards is a key part of establishing his political legacy before he steps down as prime minister. Cynics might say that is the real business requirement.

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Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:23 am

Mandate for ID Meets Resistance From States

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Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:31 am
roverroad wrote:
They won't need to touch the card to scan it if it's emitting an RF signal.

I imagine that foil-lined wallets will become the norm. At least, I plan to modify my own....
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Wolf ODonnell
Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:46 am
I don't think the ID card scheme is a good idea, because of privacy issues. The thing is, I don't believe the Government will actually use the ID Card to violate our privacy and security. I believe that the government will screw up the system, such that it'll have holes that will be easily exploited by those wishing to steal our personal details.
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Reply Tue 9 May, 2006 07:56 am
Well, of course!

The purpose of government is to perpetuate itself. Create ID tags, create crime wave, hire more police, profit.

They've one-upped the underpants gnomes by inserting an extra step. Brilliant!
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