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There are many seemingly valid reasons for the development
of a National Identity Card for all citizens to ensure proper identification,
to thwart illegal immigration and hopefully capture terrorists, and for fraud
protection. However, there are many negative aspects to this prospect, too. Of
course it’s all done under the guise of “national security” but as with the
Patriot Act, we need to be vigilant regarding this issue.
Watch Out For Big
One of the top priorities Congress has before it is
reforming America’s national security infrastructure and intelligence-gathering
The 9/11 Commission Report recommended creation of a
full-fledged national identification card system, and more importantly, a
“larger network of screening points” inside the United States. The irony of
this report is it was created by career politicians recommending an increase in
the power of government, although the already oversized government has already
demonstrated its inability to protect the American people.
Subsequent to that report, the 9/11 Commission Report
Implementation Act of 2004, a bill to implement the recommendations of the
National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, was passed for
that and for other purposes. A few excerpts from this bill are shown below:
“9/11 Commission Report Implementation Act
of 2004 - National Intelligence Authority Act of 2004 - Establishes as an
independent executive entity the National Intelligence Authority (Authority),
headed by a National Intelligence Director (Director), to, among other things:
(1) unify and strengthen efforts of the intelligence community (IC); (2) operate
the National Counterterrorism Center and national intelligence centers; and (3)
establish clear responsibility and accountability for counterterrorism and
other intelligence matters relating to U.S. national security.….”
“Directs the Secretary to develop plans:
(1) for a comprehensive integrated screening system; (2) to accelerate the full
implementation of an automated biometric entry and exit data system for
preventing the entry of terrorists; (3) to expedite the processing of
registered travelers who enter and exit the United States through a single
registered traveler program; and (4) to require biometric passports and other
secure identification for all travel into the United States by U.S. citizens
and individuals for whom immigration and nationality documentation requirements
have previously been waived.”
Analysis of This Bill
Let’s examine two of the
clauses in this one paragraph:
plans: (1) for a comprehensive integrated screening system…”
biometric passports and other secure identification for all travel into the
United States by U.S. citizens and individuals for whom immigration and
nationality documentation requirements have previously been waived”
For clarification, biometric means
“the statistical analysis of biological observations and phenomena,” which
leaves the door wide open for interpretation of what that really means in the
context of the new law.
These two statements apparently have been construed as the
authority to create a national identity passport or card.
History of National ID Cards
- Americans in the past have rejected the idea of a
National ID Card. In 1971, the Social Security Administration rejected the
idea of upgrading the Social Security Card to a National ID Card. In 1973,
the Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) department concluded that a
National ID Card was not desirable. In 1981, the Reagan Administration
stated that it was “explicitly opposed” to the creation of a National ID
Card. Even the Clinton Administration rejected the idea. We must remember
that this all occurred prior to 9/11.
- The Canadians rejected a proposal for a National ID
Card that would require fingerprints and an iris (eye) scan. The Canadians
estimated that this system would cost $5 billion for their 32 million
citizens, but in reality it offers no security for the country from
terrorists as some experts suspect that even with eye scan cards can be
- National ID Cards are used in many countries around
the world including most European countries, Hong Kong, Malaysia,
Singapore and Thailand
- Many developed countries, however, do not have such a
card including the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, the
Nordic countries and Sweden The Irish abandoned plans to create a national
numbering system and ID card citing “very serious privacy issues.”
- Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, has
even urged that the ID cards contain individuals’ photographs,
fingerprints, and even retina scans.
Pros and Cons of a
National ID Card
of a National ID Card
- If every American was forced to carry an ID card,
when demanded by a police officer an individual must produce a card. If
that individual cannot show the card this leaves the vague possibility
that the individual is a terrorist or more likely an illegal alien.
- To alleviate the very time-consuming waiting period
to board aircraft, Federal employees will be able to quickly verify your
identity, thus virtually eliminating this cumbersome process.
- India implemented a National ID Card but it is only
used for voter registration and no other function.
- When making a purchase either via a check or credit
card, the ID card can be demanded by the seller hopefully reducing fraud.
- Many government agencies and some larger corporations
already use a “smart card” technology for accessibility to facilities, by
simply waving the card nearby a scanner.
of a National ID Card
- The card is
perceived to remove more of the citizenry’s civil rights.
- There is an
underlying fear that the card will be used against the individual,
increasing the power of the authorities.
- The card
creates an uncomfortable sense it is in some way a hostile symbol.
- As an extreme
thought, there is concern that a national ID card is the evil device
foretold in the book of Revelations (the Mark of the Beast).
- There is a
fear that people will be reduced to simply numbers.
- How many laws
must be passed to force the citizenry to acknowledge, use and respect the
- We don’t need a another card for most
Americans already have a photo ID driver’s license.
- A card or
numbering system may lead to a situation where government policy becomes
“technology driven” and will occur increasingly through the will of
bureaucrats, rather than through law or public process.
- There are
practical and administrative problems that will arise from lost, stolen or
damaged cards (estimated at up to several hundred thousand cards per year)
estimates place the cost of implementing the cards from between $4 billion
and $30 billion, and another $3-6 billion to operate the system per year.
- Concerns over the potential abuse of ID cards by
authorities are supported by the experience of countries that have issued
such cards. Complaints of harassment, discrimination and denial of service
are quite common in some countries. Most Americans are well acquainted
with the Soviet Union’s internal passport system used for control and
surveillance of the population.
- The system may
strongly encourage lucrative fraud. Just imagine the possibilities for
fraud as with the well-documented history of “green card” fraud for
illegal aliens if the card is not connected to a national identification
- Most states
already have well-entrenched identification systems via driver’s licenses.
Most of us have become comfortable carrying a driver’s license over
the many years that carrying a license became law. But that mushroomed
into not only must you have a valid driver’s license in the state of New
Jersey, you must also show the license, your vehicle registration and
proof of insurance if stopped by a cop. Now get this one – if you don’t
have all three, you can be assessed a hefty fine.
- Opponents fear that a modern national ID system would
require Americans to obtain government permission to travel, work, rent or
buy housing, obtain medical care, use financial services and make many
- The official figure for the Australia card was $820
million over seven years. The originally estimated cost of the proposed ID
card failed to take into account such factors as training costs,
administrative supervision, staff turnover, holiday and sick leave,
compliance costs, and overseas issue of cards. Other costs that are seldom
factored into the final figure (as was the case in Australia) are the cost
of fraud, an underestimate of the cost of issuing and maintaining cards,
and the cost to the private sector.
- Many experts
doubt that the card will thwart terrorism in any way.
- Finally, all
we need do is look at the history of the Social Security card. It’s
original purpose has been subverted where today your Social Security
Number is used by all major credit card companies, as well as medical
institutions, as the tracking device for your history.
Recently, a company in Florida has marketed computer chips,
VeriChips, which can be planted in the skin to access your medical history. The
chip (about the size of a grain of rice) doesn’t actually contain your medical
history; instead it contains a unique 16-digit identification number that can
be used to look up the patient’s medical history on a computer. The chip has
recently been approved for patient’s use by the Food and Drug Administration
of an Implantable Identity Badge
- Use of the
chip can save lives by making knowledge of a patient’s allergies, chronic
conditions and daily drug consumption (such as insulin) immediately
available to emergency personnel or an attending physician.
- It will lessen medical errors.
- Other uses may include security access to both governmental
and private facilities.
- Similar Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags
have been embedded in livestock and family pets for years.
- The chip may only be read by a scanner a few feet
from the wearer negating the concept of a totalitarian government tracking
the whereabouts of all of its citizens from space.
The chips are already is use in
Spain, Mexico, Britain and Italy by both private and government entities.
of an Implantable Identity Badge
- As the chip technology evolves, it raises concerns
that have been addressed in various movies wherein the citizens of the
state are easily tracked by similar computer chips.
- There’s nothing stopping the government from
mandating that immigrants and people visiting the U.S. must agree to have
the chip implanted under their skin, all of course under the guise of
“national security.” These people aren’t protected by the Constitution.
Why is that such as bad thing, you are probably asking? It’s a convenient way to get the
citizens comfortable with the idea so when legislation is eventually
passed mandating that all citizens must have the chip, there will be less
resistance from the people.
- There’s also nothing stopping the government from
inserting these chips in the bodies of Federal inmates and military
personnel. When the government mandated that all GIs must receive
inoculations of the controversial anthrax vaccination, even though the
vaccine had a history of major complications, there was a minor rebellion
of sorts, with some soldiers and airmen refusing to take the vaccine and
thereby facing court martial. In October 2004, a Federal judge ruled that
the FDA violated its own rules by approving the vaccine when proof was
presented that some vaccinated troops experienced extreme fatigue, joint
pain and temporary memory loss after being vaccinated. That is, after 1.2
million troops had already received the vaccination.
- As the chip technology evolves, as with the
possibility of National ID Cards, there will be major impetus to add
financial and criminal history to the computer data, which can then be
accessed via scanning the 16-digit number embedded in the skin.
Without any additional legislation, government can use the
chips to replace the two dog tags that are normally hung around a soldier’s neck
on a chain, because military personnel must comply with orders regardless of
their personal preference or fear. Because of violent deaths in combat zones,
often the dog tags are lost making identification of the deceased a more
difficult process. In many conflicts, soldiers were ordered to tie one of the
dog tags around an ankle so if that individual was decapitated, the rest of the
body could be identified. The government can make a case for the value of the
implanted chip for identification based upon the aforementioned need. The DNA
of all soldiers is registered upon that individual entering service, making
identification perhaps more difficult but not insurmountable, negating that
argument. As a secondary reason for implementation, if scanning technology
improves, the military can argue that they will be able to track the location
all of their troops at a given instance.
In addition, over the years as more and more people enter
and leave the service, more and more Americans will retain the chip which is
not easily removed by surgery. Mark my words; although this is currently not
policy in the military, Big Brother will take control if afforded the slightest
National ID Card and Implantable Identity Badge
Both the National ID Card and Implantable Identity Badge are
a bad idea, no matter what minor improvements in security or the potential to
reduce fraud can be gained. History has shown that when you afford the
opportunity for governments to use power they will monitor the activities of
its people in an egregious way.
If we want to thwart terrorism, why have the politicians not
attacked the primary problems, our porous borders and our ludicrous immigration
policies? That’s where Congress’
attention should be focused.