- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 21, 2005

The REAL ID Act has many Americans, especially civil libertarians, up in arms. They are concerned “Big Brother” has encroached upon the fine line between security and intrusion.

While we are all well-advised to guard against an ever-intrusive government, it serves no good purpose to denigrate legislation simply because special interest groups are trying to persuade us to believe something sinister is afoot.

“We the People” have a responsibility to ascertain the facts about any given issue before we storm the village square, flaming torches in hand. This concept is called civic responsibility. Our Founding Fathers envisioned as a cornerstone of their grand design a nation of people who would embrace this notion.

In this age of instantly accessible information, there is no excuse not to know the facts about important current issues. We cannot trust the mainstream media to provide information that isn’t slanted to an agenda. But there are many other outlets we can access that offer straightforward accounts of the issues. In fact, every piece of legislation — proposed and passed — is accessible to everyone on the Internet via the Library of Congress Web site.

When read the actual verbiage, the REAL ID Act — devoid of the inserted rhetoric of reactionaries — doesn’t set up a super-secret clandestine conspiratorial network. There are no government minions deep inside any hollowed mountain keeping tabs on what kind of milk we buy.

The REAL ID Act does lay out some minimal requirements for uniform information already required by our secretaries of state. It reiterates that every state asked should cooperate on reciprocal access to information. And it sets a standard for what documentation is required to receive a driver’s license recognized by the federal government as identification.

Section 202(b) of HR 1268 Title II states the minimum document requirements as:

(1) The person’s full legal name.

(2) His or her date of birth.

(3) The person’s sex.

(4) The driver’s license or identification card number.

(5) A digital photograph of the person.

(6) Address of principle residence.

(7) The person’s signature.

(8) Security features to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication.

(9) A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.

Further, Section 202(d) of HR 1268 Title II requires that individual secretaries of state:

Capture digital images of identity source documents for electronic storage.

Retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of seven years, images for 10 years.

Subject each person applying to mandatory facial image capture.

Establish an effective procedure to confirm or verify a renewing applicant’s information.

Confirm any Social Security account number presented.

Refuse to issue a driver’s license to someone holding one issued by another state.

Ensure the security of offices where drivers’ licenses and ID cards are produced.

Employ appropriate security clearance requirements for employees.

Establish fraudulent document-recognition training programs for employees.

Limit to eight years the validity of all nontemporary driver’s licenses and ID cards.

Afford other states access to information in the motor vehicle database.

Maintain a state motor vehicle database that includes, at a minimum: (a) all data fields printed on drivers’ licenses and identification cards issued by the state; and (b) motor vehicle drivers’ histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions and points on licenses.

Not included anywhere in this legislation are provisions that enable the government to acquire information we don’t already provide freely to our respective secretaries of state.

So, I ask you, where is the heavy hand of “Big Brother” in this piece of legislation? When one actually reads it, “Big Brother’s” fingerprint is impossible to find.

Sadly, we’ve become complacent and generally accept the summaries and reports of the mainstream media “talking heads” and special-interest organizations. Few take the initiative to seek the facts. This results in easy prey for those who rely on the ignorance of others for their own gain.

The only people affected by the REAL ID Act are those here illegally. The last time I checked, entering or living in the United States outside of immigration law was still illegal. Of course, that’s hard to remember after listening to the spokespeople of organizations that insist illegal aliens have the same rights as citizens. I suspect these organizations, with a little help from the mainstream media, are the ones spreading the “Big Brother” fear.

If “We the People” simply educate ourselves, if we seek the facts about important issues, hysteria of the sort we hear about the REAL ID Act wouldn’t exist. If “We the People” would embrace civic responsibility in the fashion our Founding Fathers envisioned, we could eliminate special-interest groups manipulation of public opinion and laws to suit their shortsighted, tunnel-vision utopian aspirations.

In the end, to borrow a phrase from Franklin Roosevelt — a man who liked the idea of personal retirement accounts, by the way — “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Further reading: Library of Congress: HR 1268, Sec. 1, Title II, Sec. 202 at:

https://thomas.loc.gov/

FRANK SALVATO

Political media consultant

and managing editor for TheRant.us.

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