Friday, August 17, 2007

Chertoff on your passport: Don't leave home without it!

It might be time to get your passport renewed. If Michael Chertoff has his way, you're going to be needing it a lot more often.

Last week, Chertoff informed the National Conference of State Legislatures that residents of states who do not comply with the REAL ID Act by May of 2008 will need to show their passports for all "federal purposes." That includes boarding any airplane, even for domestic travel, entering any federal building, and visiting any national park. That's right: to fly from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, or attend federal court, or visit Valley Forge Park or the Smithsonian, you'll need to show your passport - or your REAL ID.

This is my favorite part of the CNN article:

"The [ACLU] dubs the IDs "internal passports" and claims it wouldn't be long before office buildings, gas stations, toll booths, subways and buses begin accessing the system.

But Chertoff told legislators last week that DHS has no intention of creating a federal database, and Walsh, of the Heritage Foundation, said the ACLU's allegations are disingenuous."

So essentially, they deny that REAL ID is an internal passport - but if you don't have one, you will need to carry your passport.

REAL ID is a horrible piece of legislation. It was snuck through Congress piggybacked onto a bill to fund the Iraq occupation and Tsunami relief, ostensibly to combat terrorism; only it will do almost nothing to prevent terrorism. What it really does is allow the government to track every detail in the lives of American citizens. Taken with the new FISA revisions approved last week by the Democrat sheep in Congress, one wonders how long before the US Government is using spy satellites, Enemy of the State style, to track its citizens.

But wait, there's no need to wonder: according to the New York Times, Chertoff and Homeland Security are working to implement that plan, too. Why am I not surprised that Michael Chertoff is a fan of Michael Bay movies?

Oh, and REAL ID is going to cost billions to implement, most of which is the responsibilities of the states.

It's such a terrible program, one by one the states are rejecting it. Sixteen states so far have enacted legislation to reject REAL ID. One state, Alabama, has already attempted to enact REAL ID provisions, and found the program to be an intractable quagmire. Twenty-one more (including Pennsylvania) are in the process of passing similar legislation. Chertoff and the Federal Government remain undeterred.

To comfort us, Chertoff assures the public that (according to CNN) "DHS has no intention of creating a federal database." What he doesn't mention is that your REAL ID card will be linked to your Social Security number, which means there is already a federal database in existence. It will also be linked to your birth certificate, your driver's license, That also means it's a convenient way for a thief or a terrorist to steal your identity - it will all be contained in one handy wallet-sized card!

We are working to stop REAL ID in Pennsylvania, but the real task before us is to repeal it on a Federal level. Otherwise, in less than a year, when you want to board a plane, go to court, take a jog in Valley Forge, visit the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall, hike the Appalachian Trail, or visit Gettysburg battlefield or the Flight 93 memorial, you're going to need to show your passport or you'll be turned away.

UPDATE: Thanks to Jiminy Cricket at Daily Kos for providing the following list of places where, as of May 2008 (according to Michael Chertoff), you will need your passport (or REAL ID card) lest you should be turned away:

(Removed a few that seemed dubious as State functions - these are all Federal)
  • Going to the post office
  • Applying for federal grants and subsidized federal loans
  • Visiting the offices of your elected officials
  • Running for office
  • Going to the IRS building
  • Applying for food stamps
  • Receiving social security
  • You or your company applying for federal jobs
  • Medicare
  • Opening a bank account in any FDIC assured bank
Chris in Philly

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luckily they made one strategic mistake - they left implementation up to the several state's departments of motor vehicles! To the extent that anything gets done at all, it will inevitably become a quagmire - as we are seeing already. AND it will be very visible and painful to the public as the lines at the DMV grow.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One would hope that would prove a deterrent, alan, but so far Chertoff seems undeterred. Call it an educated guess, but I don't expect this administration to back away from a quagmire.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is utterly ridiculous to have to have a passport to fly from one US city to another. I am sorry, but if you can't look at a driver's license and tell whether or not the person on that license is the same as the person showing it, you are blind.

It is just another way for our government and what not to rip us off.

11:10 PM  

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