ABC breaks the ice for us: in the future, and not too far into it, the process of getting and renewing a driver’s license will become more difficult, stressful, and fraught with all manner of unnecessary nonsense supposedly designed to protect us from terrorists, or rather CIA patsies paraded about to frighten us into submission, and as well prevent illegals from taking to the roads, never mind Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and West Virginia allow illegals to hold a license, thus demonstrating the above is little more than a threadbare excuse.
Of course, when the rubber meets the road, we discern the real reason – a national ID, complete with RFID and possibly biometrics, is all about easing us into the control grid.
According to apparatchik Michael Chertoff and the commissariat of Homeland Security, the whole affair is a matter of national security. “We are now over six years from 9/11,” Chertoff impatiently declared, “we live every day with the problems of false identification. Simply kicking this problem down the road year after year after year for further discussion, further debate and analysis is a time-tested Washington way of smothering any proposal with process.”
In other words, never mind that most people oppose Real ID and civil libertarians warn of vexing abuse, Chertoff and the neocons are itching to get us all in lumbering databases, the next step in a plan that will ultimately result in the chipping of the population at large.
“I think the time has come to bite the bullet,” Chertoff continued, “and get the kind of secure identification I am convinced the American public wants to have,” or rather the government tells them they must have, as most people hate the idea and eighteen states have passed legislation rejecting the law and Congress has refused to put any money into implementing it.
But never mind. It is a win-win situation for AOL, Microsoft, Verizon and Yahoo, all who stand to clean up if Chertoff manages to force his card on Americans at large. “The Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) sent a letter to Congress this week begging for more federal funding for Real ID,” Privacy Digest noted last October. In addition to the above corporate culprits, we can add Digimarc and Northrop Grumman, “companies that specialize in creating high-tech ID cards, as well as Choicepoint and LexisNexis, data brokers that make their money selling personal information about you to advertisers and the government. These companies stand to make millions in contracts from states who are struggling with a federal mandate to overhaul their licensing systems and share more data by the May 2008 deadline,” a date right around the corner, thus explaining Chertoff’s impatience.
“Real ID is so unpopular because in addition to being a $23 billion unfunded mandate, it will build a vast national database of personal information, expose us to a greater risk of identity theft, and move us ever closer to a total surveillance society.’
It may also be a way to keep “terrorists” off the roadways – not the Muslim cave dwelling brand of terrorist, mind you, but the kind that exercises his or her right to petition the government under that rusty old anachronism, the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the Constitution.
As we know, thousands of Americans are on the Federal Aviation Administration’s No-Fly List and the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center has compiled a terrorist watch list of over 700,000 people. Moreover, as Dave Lindorff writes, the government is in the business of passing this information out to private companies. “The Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI made its list of people with even remote links to terrorism – having associated, perhaps inadvertently, with a terror suspect, for example – available to a wide range of private companies, from banks and rental-car companies to casinos.”
And who exactly are these primary terrorists, the ones you don’t want to associate with, that is if you ever want to fly again? They are “law-abiding Americans” who were detained and questioned – we used to call this harassment – “based on their political viewpoints,” according to Nancy Chang, a senior litigation attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. “I think what they are doing is harassing people who are opposing the war and publicly speaking out against administration policy,” John Dear, a Jesuit priest and member of the Catholic peace group Pax Christi, told Lindorff.
Back in 2003, we learned that the FBI “collected extensive information on the tactics, training and organization of antiwar demonstrators and … advised local law enforcement officials to report any suspicious activity at protests to its counterterrorism squads,” the New York Times reported. Of course, this is simply a continuation of the FBI’s COINTELPRO, initiated in the 1960s to “neutralize” the opposition – i.e., render activists not only politically impotent, but often wreck their lives as well.
In 2006, we discovered that COINTELPRO didn’t go away, as the official history would have it, but lives on to this day at the Pentagon. “An antiterrorist database used by the Defense Department in an effort to prevent attacks against military installations included intelligence tips about antiwar planning meetings held at churches, libraries, college campuses and other locations,” reported the New York Times. The database, known as Talon, “showed that the military used a variety of sources to collect intelligence leads on antiwar protests, including an agent in the Department of Homeland Security, Google searches on the Internet and e-mail messages forwarded by apparent informants with ties to protest groups.”
In short, the FBI and the Pentagon are still in the business of compiling lists and checking them twice, and many if not most of these people end up grounded, as noted above.
Now we have Chertoff and ABC telling us the same rules may soon apply to driving a car. As Chertoff told ABC, the Real ID is about preventing “terrorists” from driving – with illegal immigration tacked on as a selling point – and, if the behavior of the FBI and the Pentagon are any indicator, the real terrorists are not Muslim guys who were trained on U.S. military bases and had a fondness for cruising topless bars, but are antiwar activists and other troublemakers.
Soon enough, many of us — those who believe the Constitution says what it means – may be reduced to walking to work and the grocery store… that is until a Real ID card will be required to hold job or buy a loaf of bread.