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Administration Wants To Scale Back Real ID Law 317

Posted by kdawson
from the square-root-of-minus-identity dept.
The Washington Post is running a story on the Obama Administration's attempt to get a scaled-back version of Bush's Real ID program passed and implemented. We've been discussing the Real ID program from its earliest days up through the states' resistance to its "unfunded mandate." "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 Secretary Janet Napolitano wants to repeal and replace the controversial, $4 billion domestic security initiative known as Real ID... 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 Bush administration struggled to implement the 2005 [Real ID] law, delaying the program repeatedly as states called it an unfunded mandate and privacy advocates warned it would create a de facto national ID."
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Administration Wants To Scale Back Real ID Law

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:11AM (#28333783) Journal
    Translation: We know that for the past 8 years this has been pushed to prevent homeland terrorism but you know there hasn't really been any major events without it since 9/11. Also, we've got a lot of other shit to worry about that actually does affect your life more than having to present papers whenever you cross any political boundary inside the United States. You know, like the economy and jobs. We're getting Real ID watered down as best we can and hopefully it'll just kind of deflate and go away but there's some asshole Republicans left like Lamar Smith in Texas and Sensenbrenner in Wisconsin that like to say things like:

    We go right back to where we were on Sept. 10, 2001. Maybe governors should have been in the Capitol when we knew a plane was on its way to Washington wanting to kill a few thousand more people.

    You hear that? The lawmakers that take us to war were actually in danger of physical harm themselves! Imagine that! But their voice, urgency and argument are getting pretty pathetic now that it's been eight years and no such thing has reoccurred. The fear card isn't so strong these days. "You might lose your house and/or job" seems to worry people more than "the odds are 1:10,000,000 that a terrorist may kill you in an extremely contrived scenario!"

    Remember any sort of compromise or rational thought is bad because Sensenbrenner says doing so instantly brings us back to pre-9/11 danger. Beware of this sort of mentality. Beware the men that play with your emotions and speak in absolutes for the world is shades of grey.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:15AM (#28333817)

    Will anyone please accept that maybe all of the money spent for Homeland Security has actually helped prevent post 9/11 homeland terrorism from occurring? Instead of shoving it all to the side as republican war profiteering?

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:21AM (#28333843) Journal

    Will anyone please accept that maybe all of the money spent for Homeland Security has actually helped prevent post 9/11 homeland terrorism from occurring? Instead of shoving it all to the side as republican war profiteering?

    You may very well be right. Nowhere in my post did I say that it didn't. What I said was that we have gotten along for 8 years just fine without a Real ID. However painful it is for me to say this, TSA & DHS are here to stay. If they or the NSA wiretapping or whatever encroachments on our rights and privacy condoned have prevented homeland terrorism then good for them. I don't like all of those things but I cannot say one way or the other that they haven't worked.

    But that's not what this is about. This is about people trying to push it even further. Do you just write them a blank check in the name of security? Do you just offer up all your rights on the spot and roll over for them? Let me quote the article:

    Supporters saw a slimmer measure as better than nothing. But critics said the changes gut the law, weakening tools to fight fraud and learn whether bad drivers, drug runners or counterfeiters have licenses in more than one state.

    My GOD! Bad drivers are running free across state borders! Here's $50 million dollars of tax payer money. Get them! At all costs! What? You need me to carry a Real ID along with my other ID and birth certificate and registration? Ok, whatever you say!

    I call for a halt to Real ID or Pass ID or whatever until we see a need for it.

  • Re:DMV (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gruntled (107194) on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:36AM (#28333935)

    The real problem with ID issuance in the United States is everything -- everything, including a passport -- goes back to a birth certificate, and not all difficult to obtain a phony birth certificate. I'm not sure this problem really has a short term solution.

  • Re:Oh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:41AM (#28333967)

    The last eight years free of collapsing buildings seem to me a great indicator of its implicit uselessness. So why push it still?

    It's useless for preventing terrorist attacks, but highly useful for helping government officials track a citizen's movements. Now they can use that power for good (more promptly serving arrest warrants) or evil (harassing political opponents as just one example). Anti-terrorism is a smokescreen. What RealID proponents really want, and won't stop until they get, is the 24/7 tracking of every person in the country.

    What I say to this is, if you're not doing anything wrong ... then where you are and what you're up to are none of the government's damned business. [findlaw.com]

  • by xednieht (1117791) on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:44AM (#28333979) Homepage
    Why not just tattoo a number on people. Hear it worked real well about 60 years ago.

    I'd be curious are people here more apprehensive about the intrusive government or terrorists?

    When can I have my America back?
  • Papers please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Nkwe (604125) on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:45AM (#28333987)

    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.

    Since when was a driver's license a "travel document"?

  • by maxume (22995) on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:47AM (#28334005)

    At worst, you might have killed a few passengers and made flying even more inconvenient for everybody else. If you chose your flight poorly, a marshal probably would have subdued you and you would be awaiting trial (I don't really have any sense of how quick they are to shoot...maybe you would be dead).

  • Re:Papers please (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:59AM (#28334059)

    Well, what do you do with a driver's license? Arguably, travel is the central use of such a document: not having one means not driving a car. If the quotation's right, and the hijackers found it easier to travel with licenses, it's not because anyone was checking for papers at state borders -- it's because they were able to drive a car. That's the fundamental mode of travel in the US. So, yeah, driver's licenses are travel documents.

    On the other hand, they weren't intended originally as all-around ID's for financial transactions, alcohol consumption, hotel stays, etc. But travel document is an excellent description: the license facilitates travel by making the use of an automobile legitimate; those without papers and traveling by the primary means of travel in the US are cited for driving without a license, so a penalty is imposed on travel without papers.

  • by maxume (22995) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:06AM (#28334115)

    Probably never. Most people don't care and a lot of people that do care don't take it any further than asking rhetorical questions.

    (I'm not even suggesting some wacky revolution like a few fringies here do, I'm suggesting some higher level of civic engagement among people who want to live in a sane society, rather than the yell loudly about possibly scary things society that we have today)

  • Re:Oh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:12AM (#28334159)

    correlation is not causation.

    "I've been snapping my fingers the last 8 yrs too; and so far, no lions have appeared. this stuff must really work!"

  • by badfish99 (826052) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:12AM (#28334165)

    Given that a driving licence is supposed to be proof of your ability to drive, I would have thought that the more licences a person could obtain from different states, the less likely it would be for that person to be a bad driver.
    Or doesn't the driving licence in your country require passing a driving test, as it does in mine?

  • by assertation (1255714) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:17AM (#28334199)

    A National ID would not have stopped the American terrorist who recently murdered the Holocaust Museum guard nor the American terrorist who murdered that doctor who performed abortions.

  • Re:not dead yet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Missing_dc (1074809) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:18AM (#28334205)

    Heard of DNA?

  • Re:Better (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:19AM (#28334219)

    On the other hand, I have no great objection to requiring the states to standardize the physical driver's license card so that law enforcement doesn't need to know about the designs of fifty plus different licenses.

    Then they should pass a law saying "All states will issue driving licenses in accordance with the following design..... Existing licenses will remain valid until their expiry".

    Quick, easy, relatively non-controversial and the entire damn law can be written in about 2 sentences.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:29AM (#28334323)

    Translation: We know that for the past 8 years this has been pushed to prevent homeland terrorism but you know there hasn't really been any major events without it since 9/11. Also, we've got a lot of other shit to worry about that actually does affect your life more than having to present papers whenever you cross any political boundary inside the United States. You know, like the economy and jobs.

    No, translation: The previous Administration wasn't able to get many states on board with this as it exists, so we're going to try watering it down a little. Once everybody's on board with this we can ramp it up to the real deal.

  • Re:Papers please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brewmeister_Z (1246424) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:36AM (#28334397)

    Alcohol consumption and the driver's license relationship is odd when it comes to punishment for underage consumption. Many states will try to revoke a driver's license for underage consumption even if there was no related driving offense.

    Many alcohol and drug laws go too far to stop big offenses by making minor offenses into a big ones as well. For example, in my state, testing positive in a drug test is the same as possession and results in more jail time compared to other states. And don't get me started on the 21 drinking age and the federal blackmail with highway funds.

  • by Ioldanach (88584) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:38AM (#28334405)

    But what if I had been a terrorist, fully aware of the knife?

    You're buying into the security theater paradigm. Before 9/11, hijackings were kidnapping and ransom situations in the US. If you wanted to survive, you kept a low profile and didn't rock the boat, and odds were everything would be fine. Out of 200 people they might kill one or two, so your odds of being that one were low enough that resistance was not a good idea. 9/11 changed all that. Now the possibility that everyone might be killed is very very real, so terrorists are likely to see an overwhelming resistance if all they could get on board were knives or possibly even a couple small firearms.

    I honestly think that a modest knife, say 3" or less, presents no substantial hijack threat.

  • by twostix (1277166) on Monday June 15, 2009 @08:55AM (#28334573)

    No.

    All this relaxed talk by Americans of "homeland" this and "papers" that as though it's just another day at the office makes me little sick btw.

    Our great friend the US of A teetering on the edge of becoming the monster that it once so valiantly wrestled. Fortunately something, a single thread perhaps, keeps holding it back...but for how much longer?

    Tune in over the next few years to find out.

  • by Phroggy (441) <slashdot3NO@SPAMphroggy.com> on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:07AM (#28334693) Homepage

    At worst, you might have killed a few passengers and made flying even more inconvenient for everybody else. If you chose your flight poorly, a marshal probably would have subdued you and you would be awaiting trial (I don't really have any sense of how quick they are to shoot...maybe you would be dead).

    Marshall, shmarshall. The other passengers would have whooped your ass, regardless of what sort of weapon you managed to smuggle on board. This is why 9/11 cannot happen again: the public is now aware that some hijackers may be suicidal terrorists, which means "sit down and shut up" may not be the best strategy to ensure survival. Flight 93 [wikipedia.org] marked the beginning of this change, but they figured it out too late to save the plane; any future hijacking attempts will be less successful.

  • Re:DMV (Score:5, Insightful)

    by twostix (1277166) on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:13AM (#28334753)

    Why does there have to be a solution?

    More efficient commerce isn't an acceptable answer.

    A free people don't have to verify themselves to their government and the government has no intrinsic right to demand that of a person.

  • by maxume (22995) on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:14AM (#28334759)

    Is your ID card linked to a database that Russian police can access?

    By comparison, ours would be linked to a database that the Texas police would have access to.

  • Re:Better (Score:3, Insightful)

    by twostix (1277166) on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:21AM (#28334855)

    As far as I'm aware the US Federal Government doesn't have the mandate or authority to "require" the states to do anything like that. Given that it was the states who created the Federal Government and gave it the power to exist to do a limited range of things involving common defense and keeping interstate trade regular in the first place it's not really ok for it to turn around and tell the states what to do.

    But that may just be my naive reading of the highest law of your land, the law that actually allows a legal entity such as the federal government to exists. I was under the impression that the US was a nation of laws. Unlike say Soviet Russia who had a set of laws outlined in a similar document that stated what the central government could do, but completely ignored them and did whatever it liked.

  • Re:Better (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zan Lynx (87672) on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:32AM (#28334995) Homepage

    "Unlike say Soviet Russia who had a set of laws outlined in a similar document that stated what the central government could do, but completely ignored them and did whatever it liked."

    No, that's pretty much how the US Federal government works too. But don't say it too loudly or the government will call you a radical right-wing militia terrorist.

  • by twostix (1277166) on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:33AM (#28335003)

    "it doesn't make our government track our every move or anything."

    And you know that how?

    Because in my country at least getting government departments to tell us what they do and don't talk to each other about and what info they are and aren't mining about the citizens is like pulling teeth and requires costly court battles.

    I assume you just implicitly trust your public servants to do the moral thing in the course of their duties?

    I've worked in our federal government, if the data is there and there isn't a specific law banning the use of it, at best there's a pilot project or little dodgey in house app to play with the data a million different ways. I know this because I wrote one and though it was pretty benign to start with, the potential that it created and the hunger for information on everyone displayed by the various deparments I worked with I'm sure it's not benign (or even legal) anymore.

    The thing is, who's going to stop them from doing things like that? You?

  • Me too. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tjstork (137384) <(todd.bandrowsky) (at) (gmail.com)> on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:35AM (#28335033) Homepage Journal

    My license had been expired for six months. Renewal, pay a late fee and they hand it over. Easy. It's funny but on that day I heard on the radio some
    Republican senator saying: "If we have national health insurance, we will have healthcare like the DMV."

    Now I'm a right wing kind of guy, but I couldn't help but immediately think:

    "I wish my health care was as good as my DMV". I would say Republicans should shy away from DMV arguments, because right now health care is so screwed up that
    making it like the DMV would be an improvement. Imagine an emergency room where they had different lines for different ailments, actually gave out numbers like the DMV does, had friendly people and a nice building... and only cost $50.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday June 15, 2009 @09:51AM (#28335245)
    A terrorist is a person who engages in actions which cause a feeling of terror.

    As a fellow Holocaust Museum guard, or a doctor at an abortion clinic, would you not feel scared if these people were not caught?

    How about if someone came and murdered one of your collegues for a reason linked to your job (importing foreign produce, employing immigrant labour, voting Red, voting Blue etc).
  • by Rycross (836649) on Monday June 15, 2009 @11:12AM (#28336397)

    No I won't, because foreign terrorist attacks on mainland US were pretty much non-existent in the years leading up to 9/11 too. The way the Republicans talk, you'd think the US was a war-zone leading up to 9/11. Most of the "terrorism" we have encountered pre-911 has been rare, and against our military assets in Middle Eastern nations. And we shouldn't even have our military assets there in the first place.

    Peddle your fear elsewhere. Your tiger repellent is just a plain rock.

  • Re:Me too. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday June 15, 2009 @01:14PM (#28338015) Homepage Journal
    "My license had been expired for six months. Renewal, pay a late fee and they hand it over. Easy. It's funny but on that day I heard on the radio some Republican senator saying: "If we have national health insurance, we will have healthcare like the DMV."

    Now I'm a right wing kind of guy, but I couldn't help but immediately think:

    "I wish my health care was as good as my DMV". I would say Republicans should shy away from DMV arguments, because right now health care is so screwed up that making it like the DMV would be an improvement. Imagine an emergency room where they had different lines for different ailments, actually gave out numbers like the DMV does, had friendly people and a nice building... and only cost $50."

    Consider yourself lucky. Where I live...when I have to go in for anything DMV related, I just count on wasting at least half a day bare minimum.

    These days, I just go ahead and take the whole day off, doesn't matter if it is drivers license renewal, or changing plates, etc....you can count on being there no less than 4 hours. And God help you if you forget one thing, or they have an error in their system. That calls for another day.

    To me, NOTHING scares me worse than DMV styled healthcare. If even you discount the wait times, the incompetence, and the lack of service...the 'attitude' from the workers there alone would scare the hell out of me. I'd likely REALLY go in for health ONLY if I was about to die under a DMV health type system.

  • Re:Me too. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dbcad7 (771464) on Monday June 15, 2009 @02:13PM (#28338903)
    Well, imagine if you were in their shoes.. I imagine every day starts fairly well with those who have not waited too long being pleasant with them.. as the day wears on they start to deal with annoyed and angry people.. and the thing is, these annoyed and angry people are annoyed and angry at the wrong people.. It is the others in line who don't have their crap together, and have complicated problems that require 20 minutes to solve that the people should be angry with.. I don't think I have every had a transaction with the DMV that required more than a few minutes, but there is always someone in front of me who has some weird problem.. like the last time I went.., a guy with DUI's in another state that he had proof of clearing up, but still had a computer hold on him.. This, and he also had out an of state vehicle to register.. All this required phone calls, and managers, and all sorts of hubbub.. In the same time it took them to deal with him, they could have done 40 people like me.. Do I blame the DMV lady ? .. no she was simply doing what she could to help the person in front of her.. and there are more where this guy came from, people with overdue boat registrations, people trying to register an abandoned vehicle, or a vehicle from someone who died, and all sorts of anarchy.
  • driver's licenses (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000.yahoo@com> on Monday June 15, 2009 @07:51PM (#28342897)

    One of the reasons for Real ID was because some state drivers licenses were too easily to fake. And in some states, the identity checks you have to take to get the license were too lax. (i.e. the "can you drive" parts were more important than the "are you who you claim to be" parts)

    Guess what? A driver's license is supposed to say you can drive, not you are who you say you are. Social Security numbers too are used as ID, heck at least some states require a Social Security card to get a license, but they were never meant to be used as an ID. The Social Security Administration [ssa.gov] even says "You need a Social Security number to get a job, collect Social Security benefits and receive some other government services. But you don't often need to show your Social Security card. Do not carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place with your other important papers." I don't know if the cards still do but they used to say something along the lines "This is not an identification card".

    Falcon

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