Tuesday, June 17, 2008

We are all in serious trouble

Pop quiz! Who said this?
"(O)nly those with reason to be concerned should be concerned."

Is it:
A) DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff
B) Rush Limbaugh
C) Lakers guard Kobe Bryant
D) Chuck Ardo, spokesman for Governor Rendell

If you guessed C, you are wrong. Nope, this was said by Chuck Ardo, spokesman for Governor Rendell. To be fair, it's not an exact quote. This is how it was paraphrased by KYW radio in Philadelphia. Ardo was responding to a press conference held yesterday by Rep. Sam Rohrer (R-Berks County) in which Rohrer revealed that PennDOT has begun using facial recognition technology when issuing drivers' licenses. Rohrer considers this a form of biometrics, like DNA or finger prints, because your face print is a unique bodily feature and believes that PennDOT started using this technology in response to the federal Real ID Act.

When the Rendell administration starts sounding like the Bush administration, we are all in serious trouble.

Meanwhile, the PA General Assembly is considering not participating in Real ID. Today a House committee unanimously passed HB 2537, which would bar Pennsylvania from seeking certification in Real ID.

Of course, as the case of Dr. Moniem el-Ganayni makes clear, even those who have no reason to be concerned should be concerned. Dr. el-Ganayni is an Egyptian nuclear physicist who has lived in the states for almost 30 years and has been a citizen for since 1988. He's brilliant and, as a prison chaplain, is a good citizen, to boot. So how does the government choose to treat him? By revoking his security clearance. Dr. el-Ganayni has the great American immigration story, but the government turned it into a nightmare after he had the nerve to disagree with state prison officials. He's never been arrested for a single crime.

The Committee of Concerned Scientists has an action alert on his case.

I have plenty of reasons to be concerned. And I'm concerned.

Andy in Harrisburg

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