Administration Plans to Scale Back Real ID Law
By Spencer S. Hsu, Washington Post
Yielding to a rebellion by states that refused to pay for it, the Obama administration is moving to scale back a federal law passed after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks that was designed to tighten security requirements for driver’s licenses, Homeland Security Department and congressional officials said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, $4 billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID, which calls for placing more secure licenses in the hands of 245 million Americans by 2017. The new proposal, called Pass ID, would be cheaper, less rigorous and partly funded by federal grants, according to draft legislation that Napolitano’s Senate allies plan to introduce as early as tomorrow.
The rebranding effort follows months of talks with the National Governors Association and poses political risk for Obama as well as Napolitano, a former NGA chairwoman who wants to soothe strained relations with the states without appearing to retreat on a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission.
Commissioners called for federal standards for driver’s licenses and birth certificates, noting, “For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.” Eighteen of 19 terrorist hijackers obtained state IDs, some of them fraudulently, easing their movements inside the country.
But the Bush administration struggled to implement the 2005 law, delaying the program repeatedly as states called it an unfunded mandate and privacy advocates warned it would create a de facto national ID.
As governor of Arizona, Napolitano called Real ID “feel-good” legislation not worth the cost, and she signed a state law last year opting out of the plan. As secretary, she said a substitute would “accomplish some of the same goals.”
Eleven states have refused to participate in Real ID despite a Dec. 31 federal deadline.
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Editor’s Note: As can be seen here, Real ID is a great example of how state-level activism to resist unconstitutional federal laws is an effective – and peaceful – method.Â A small number of states simply saying no has the power to force the federal government to get rid of a program.Â Consdier this as new regulations come into effect for Health, Gun Rights, nationalizing the Guard and more.
Want to help put the final nail in the coffin of Real ID? Take action over at DownsizeDC.org:
The REAL ID Act is a bad law passed under false pretenses. It was rejected three separate times by the U.S. Senate, and was only passed because it was added to a larger bill containing disaster relief and funding for Iraq. The Senate didn’t want it, and the American people don’t want it either. But the Republican majority leadership in Congress imposed it on us, and so now we have to fight to get it repealed.
The REAL ID Act creates a centralized federal database of personal information about all Americans. Decisions about the exact nature and scope of this program will be made by unelected bureaucrats in the Executive Branch. It seems inevitable that biometric information and electronic tracking tags will be included at some point. No one intends a bad use for this system today, but it is inevitable that it will be used in bad ways in the future.
We are promised increased personal security in return for laying this new “foundation stone” for the creation of a future police state. But those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither, and will have neither.
Many good arguments can be made against REAL ID, but they all reduce to one overpowering truth. The more information government has the less it seems to know. The more power government has the less it seems able to accomplish. Big Government doesn’t work. The federal government needs to do less in order to accomplish more. Small government is focused government. We need smaller government, not a massive new federal identification system. Please ask Congress to repeal the REAL ID Act.
Something called the PASS Act is being crafted to revive the Real ID concept, under a new name, and companies like L-1 Identity Solutions, which stands to benefit, are almost certainly lobbying hard to make it happen. We must lobby just as intensely in the other direction.
Please send your Congressional employees a message asking them once again to repeal the REAL ID Act.
Use your personal comments to ALSO ask them to…
* Stop the DHS from promoting enhanced drivers licenses
* Make the State Department lower the cost of passports
* Reject all the new forms of REAL ID, such as the PASS Act