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From the Editorial Board
Real ID, False Need

From a News-Journal editorial: “The Real ID Act of 2005 and recent regulations by the Department of Homeland Security require all states to begin issuing federally approved driver’s licenses by 2009. All licenses must be replaced by 2013. Noncompliant license-holders will be barred from boarding planes or entering federal buildings. The requirement is costly—more than $14 billion for the states, and a surcharge of $20 for individual license holders. The federal government is contributing a fraction of the cost: $100 million this year, maybe more in following years. The licenses will be expensive not because laminating costs are going up, but because states will be required to input drivers’ profiles in a national database, accessible by department of motor vehicle employees everywhere. Much of the debate over Real ID is focused on cost, Big Brother-intrusions and what amounts to a national identity card—all valid arguments against the new licenses. It’s not government’s place to keep tabs on citizens. An all-purpose identification card could be followed next by the requirement, as in most other countries, that individuals carry their papers at all times and present them on demand, with or without reason beyond the all-purpose justification of “security.” The card, once just a license to drive (which is all it should be), becomes a required domestic passport. But whether one agrees with those arguments or not, there’s a more valid reason to reject the new licenses: The federal government’s rationale for Real ID doesn’t hold up. [...] The attacks were preventable -- not with better driver's licenses, not even with such draconian laws as the USA Patriot Act or the domestic surveillance of e-mail and international calls, but with more intelligent, more imaginative, less juvenile intelligence work, and with more modern computer systems and analytical procedures in the nation's premier intelligence agencies. On those counts, the country is still behind. On Real ID's count, the country is rushing toward adoption of a national identification system that is neither necessary nor wise, all the while detracting from more serious vulnerabilities.See the full editorial...

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