Join Senator Leahy's Green Mountain PAC today!
Help Green Mountain PAC build a better America. Contribute today!
Invite your friends & family to join Green Mountain PAC now!
Leahy, Others Speak Out Against New ID Standards
By Ellen Nakashima
The Washington Post
Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), citing concerns
about Americans' privacy, signaled yesterday that he will push to
repeal a provision of a 2005 law aimed at creating new government
standards for driver's licenses.
Leahy, who has co-sponsored
bipartisan legislation to repeal the provision, spoke out as the debate
intensified over the Real ID Act, which requires states to create new
tamper-proof driver's licenses in line with rules recently issued by
the Department of Homeland Security. States must begin to comply by May
2008 but can request more time. After 2013, people whose IDs do not
meet those standards will not be allowed to board planes or enter
A similar Democrat-backed bill to repeal the
provision is pending in the House. At least seven states have passed
laws or resolutions opposing implementation of Real ID. Fourteen states
have legislation pending. By yesterday, the DHS had received more than
12,000 public comments in response to the rules.
legislation was tacked onto a 2005 emergency spending bill by House
Republicans, without Senate debate, and signed by President Bush. The
bill's passage cut short negotiations between states and the federal
government to improve driver's license security. Advocates of a repeal
want to restart the negotiations.
But proponents say Real ID is
an effort to strengthen security standards for state-issued driver's
licenses, a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission. The 19 hijackers
on Sept. 11, 2001, had 30 state-issued IDs, at least seven of which
were obtained by fraud, a commissioner noted. They used them to rent
cars and apartments, open bank accounts, and board planes.
the proposed rules to implement Real ID, critics warn, could open the
door to privacy invasions by establishing a national database of
personal data, accessible to state and federal law enforcement and
other entities. The law would force states to foot a $23.1 billion bill
over 10 years for what amounts to a national ID card, they say. And it
would, they argue, increase risk of identity theft and fraud.
think the days of Congress rubber-stamping any and every idea cooked up
by the administration are over," Leahy said yesterday at a hearing.
"You have the nation's governors, Republicans and Democrats, who say
they want to have a voice in this. Should they be ignored, or is this a
case where the federal government knows better than the states?"
Leahy sponsored the repeal legislation with Sens. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), John E. Sununu (R-N.H.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).
issue is a tripwire for politicians wanting to show they are tough on
illegal immigrants but not on civil liberties for U.S. citizens. At
last week's GOP presidential debate, several Republican candidates,
including Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), a Judiciary Committee member,
voiced opposition to a national ID card for U.S. citizens. Mitt Romney,
governor of Massachusetts, said he supported an ID card "for aliens,
not for citizens."
Experts are divided on the law.
Harper, director of Information Studies at the libertarian Cato
Institute, said at the hearing that Real ID's costs would not justify
its added security benefits.
But James Carafano, senior research
fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, defended the program,
saying it does not establish a national identity card system or a new,
national database, but rather would be a system of integrated databases
that would help deter terrorism.
The editorial board of the Wall
Street Journal also took a whack at Real ID yesterday, saying its
intent "was always more about harassing Mexican illegals than stopping
DHS spokesman Russ Knocke said the agency was listening to the states' concerns about implementing the program.
it's going to create some burden in terms of cost for states," he said.
"But it's righteous. And shame on us if we don't take the steps now to
address known vulnerabilities because the alternative is sitting back
and hoping you get lucky."
Link to article