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Ron Paul is Strongest Opponent of Real ID

The Real ID basically amounts to an illegal threat to our privacy, security and identity. The national ID card, potentially a forced replacement of your driver’s license, would track your every move, make you more susceptible to identity theft, and likely decrease national security. John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani want to help the HSD implement it.

[Ironically Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama each have had their private passport information accessed illegally by contractors working for the government.]

Real ID watchdog group The Visible Vote 08 has praised Ron Paul for his consistently strong opposition to the Real ID Act:

“(T)he strongest opponent of the Act among presidential candidates is Ron Paul, who has taken every opportunity to warn of the creation of a national ID card and the threat to individual privacy facing Americans as a result of enactment of Real ID… Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate who has consistently raised the issue of the Real ID Act in presidential debates this year.”

Visible Vote notes that Republican candidates John McCain, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani all support the Real ID Act.

Why is there not a bigger outcry against the Real ID Act? Some of the details of the Act finally hit mainstream news this past week, but its definitely not a new piece of legislation.

The law dictates that, starting on May 11, 2008, Americans will need a federally approved, “machine readable” ID card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments or take advantage of nearly any government service. Before issuing the cards, which would have to adhere to Homeland Security standards, states would be required to verify electronically that identification documents, such as birth certificates, presented by their citizens are authentic. (States that agree in advance to abide by the rules would be given until 2013 to comply.) TalkLeft.com

John McCain is a supporter of the Real ID Act. (From ZDNET questionaire sent to McCain)

Q. The Department of Homeland Security has proposed extensive Real ID requirements restricting which state ID cards can be accepted at federal buildings and airports. Do you support those regulations as written, would you want to repeal Real ID, or would you prefer something in between?

McCain: The 9/11 Commission recommended that the federal government set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses. Consistent with these recommendations, the Real ID act established federal guidelines to prevent fraud in the issuance and acquisition of identity documents. I SUPPORT FULL IMPLEMENTATION OF REAL ID but understand that states need to be given enough time and funding to implement the requirements.

Barack Obama has professed to not support the Real ID “because it is an unfunded mandate, and not enough work has been done with the states to help them implement the program.” The Senate never voted on the Real ID Act of 2005, however, the Real ID was attached to another Bill in 2005 — the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief (H.R.1268)” which passed the Senate unanimously, including a vote by Senator Obama. One has to wonder why Obama effectively voted in favor of the Real ID here and also failed to vote at all on a bill that would provide funding to states to carry out the Real ID Act of 2005 brought before Congress in July of 2007.

Hillary Clinton with her usual fence-sitting, long-winded rhetoric failed to take a verbal stand one way or the other on Real ID. “I support a comprehensive review of Real ID to determine whether its various ID provisions make sense in light of our very real security needs and the challenges facing our states.” Hillary also voted in favor of funding the Real ID, and voted in favor of the Senate bill that had the Real ID Act attached [the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief (H.R.1268)]. Regardless of what she has said, its clear Hillary is on board with the Real ID and will cast her vote in support of it.

Mike Huckabee wrote a letter of support for the Real ID Act in 2005.

Rudy Giuliani is a staunch supporter of the Real ID Act. “We should know who’s here,” Giuliani said. “Every other country has a system, we’re just catching up.” Apparently the ‘everybody’s doing it’ mantra should be enough to get Americans to forget about the major privacy, fiscal, and security dangers inherent in the Act. Aren’t we supposed to be the world’s prime example of freedom?

Mitt Romney’s campaign said that he favors a national ID, but opposes driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants Obviously giving illegal immigrants a driver’s license is exactly the opposite of what is needed to prohibit illegal immigration (basically saying don’t come here illegally, but if you do we’ll hook you up with a driver’s license). Romney clearly doesn’t value the privacy and security of the personal identity information of Americans like you and me.

In a recent presidential debate Ron Paul stated his opposition to the Real ID:

Asked if he echoed Giuliani’s support of a national ID card and a database, the Texas Congressman responded, “Absolutely not – I voted against the Real ID, I think the Real ID is the national ID card, it’s introducing the notion that we will be carrying our papers.”

On RonPaul2008.com Paul’s position on Real ID is made clear:

The biggest threat to your privacy is the government. We must drastically limit the ability of government to collect and store data regarding citizens’ personal matters.

We must stop the move toward a national ID card system. All states are preparing to issue new driver’s licenses embedded with “standard identifier” data — a national ID. A national ID with new tracking technologies means we’re heading into an Orwellian world of no privacy. I voted against the Real ID Act in March of 2005.

From Ron Paul’s article, “National ID Cards Won’t Stop Terrorism or Illegal Immigration“:

Terrorism is the excuse given for virtually every new power grab by the federal government, and the national ID is no exception. But federal agencies have tried to create a national ID for years, long before the 9-11 attacks. In fact, a 1996 bill sought to do exactly what the REAL ID Act does: transform state drivers� licenses into de facto national ID cards. At the time, Congress was flooded with calls by angry constituents and the bill ultimately died.

Proponents of the REAL ID Act continue to make the preposterous claim that the bill does not establish a national ID card. This is dangerous and insulting nonsense. Let�s get the facts straight: The REAL ID Act transforms state motor vehicle departments into agents of the federal government. Nationalizing standards for driver’s licenses and birth certificates in a federal bill creates a national ID system, pure and simple. Having the name of your particular state on the ID is meaningless window dressing.

On February 9, 2005 Ron Paul voiced his vehement opposition to the Real ID Act before Congress, these are some of his words:

I rise in strong opposition to H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act. This bill purports to make us safer from terrorists who may sneak into the United States, and from other illegal immigrants. While I agree that these issues are of vital importance, this bill will do very little to make us more secure. It will not address our real vulnerabilities. It will, however, make us much less free. In reality, this bill is a Trojan horse. It pretends to offer desperately needed border control in order to stampede Americans into sacrificing what is uniquely American: our constitutionally protected liberty.

What is wrong with this bill?

The REAL ID Act establishes a national ID card by mandating that states include certain minimum identification standards on driver’s licenses. It contains no limits on the government’s power to impose additional standards. Indeed, it gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally add requirements as he sees fit.

Supporters claim it is not a national ID because it is voluntary. However, any state that opts out will automatically make non-persons out of its citizens. The citizens of that state will be unable to have any dealings with the federal government because their ID will not be accepted. They will not be able to fly or to take a train. In essence, in the eyes of the federal government they will cease to exist. It is absurd to call this voluntary.

. . . This legislation gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to expand required information on driver’s licenses, potentially including such biometric information as retina scans, finger prints, DNA information, and even Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) radio tracking technology. Including such technology as RFID would mean that the federal government, as well as the governments of Canada and Mexico, would know where Americans are at all time of the day and night.

There are no limits on what happens to the database of sensitive information on Americans once it leaves the United States for Canada and Mexico – or perhaps other countries. Who is to stop a corrupt foreign government official from selling or giving this information to human traffickers or even terrorists? Will this uncertainty make us feel safer?

From Sourcewatch.org:

Jim Harper of the Cato Institute commented that while the added security requirements of the REAL ID Act may prove stifling for law-abiding citizens, they would do little in the way of curbing illegal immigration and even less in the way of stopping terrorism. Harper argued that because terrorists rarely seek the benefits of American society and because they do not worry about being held accountable for their acts, a terrorist would have no need to use an identity card or fear being identified if they did.

Harper also warned of the historic cases where identification cards were used to infringe on the civil rights of a country’s populace. National identification systems, he argues, have allowed governments to prey on their people. He stated:

“This is concerning not just because of privacy — the fact that people’s lives are more exposed to governments and corporations than ever before. It is also a threat to liberty…Historically, oppressive governments have used identification time and time again to administer evil acts. Well known historical examples include Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Modern genocides like Rwanda’s were facilitated by an identification card system. Uniform and centralized identification systems provide no failsafe in the event a democracy fails, or fails to protect liberty. A diverse identification system is more difficult to navigate. This makes it a bulwark of liberty.”

. . . Tim Sparapani, stated “Proponents of the bill are in full spin mode when they say it’s just the states who are collecting the information…Even if the data is technically on a computer system in one location, if all the computers are interlinked, then there’s a mandate to share information. That’s a network. And that network is the backbone of this national identification card especially when there are no restrictions on who may access it. And the federal government has full rights of access here.”

Following passage of the Act, several states threatened lawsuits and disobedience. In some states, legislation was proposed to issue separate IDs for people who may not want to carry an ID regulated by the REAL ID Act. In California, a bill designed to comply with Real ID while providing drivers’ licenses to undocumented immigrants was offered. On July 15, 2006, it was reported that a state panel had begun efforts to improve security of driver’s licenses and identification cards in order to try to comply with the act, but was unable to because the federal government had yet to clarify the regulations required in the new IDs.

Regarding the dangers of a Real ID, Paul Joseph Watson adds:

In addition, there have been numerous cases where the databases of credit card companies have been hacked and the information of millions of consumers has been exposed to criminals, so how can we expect the government to safeguard our information to any greater degree, especially in light of the fact that many ID schemes across the world are financed by means of the government selling our information to all manner of corporations and private business interests in the first place?

Ron Paul’s opposition to the introduction of a national ID, like every other issue he stands for, has remained steadfast and unwavering.

Shortly after the introduction of the Real ID legislation in January 2005, Dr. Paul denounced the national ID as “Not proper in a free society,” adding, “This is America, not Soviet Russia. The federal government should never be allowed to demand papers from American citizens, and it certainly has no constitutional authority to do so.”

Real ID Watch Has Put Together a good 10 Point Statement of why they oppose the Real ID Act.

Noah S. Leavitt explains How the Real ID Act violates national and international law, and how it will likely DECREASE our national security instead of increasing it:

How the REAL ID Act Violates United States Law, In the Form of the ICCPR

Let’s begin by taking a look at the ICCPR – a treaty ratified by the United States – and how the REAL ID Act violates, and abrogates, it.

Article 14 of the ICCPR provides that persons convicted under law shall have the right to review by a higher court. But REAL ID purports to eliminate all habeas corpus review for immigrants who claim they have been treated unlawfully by the Department of Homeland Security. It is also purports to strip federal judges of the power to temporarily stay the immigrants’ deportation, pending appeal of a negative determination.

Article 22 of the ICCPR, and Articles 7 and 8 of the ICESCR, provide for the right to organize collectively at the workplace, and the right to strike. But the REAL ID Act allows the Department of Homeland Security to ignore local, state and federal laws to the extent that the Secretary believes necessary to “expeditiously” complete the security border fences with Mexico and Canada. Collective bargaining laws are not exempt. (Nor are laws on environmental protection, safety and discrimination).

Article 17 of the ICCPR – like Article 12 of the Universal Declaration – provides for a right to privacy. Yet, as discussed earlier, the REAL ID Act sets complex federal standards for all drivers’ licenses, and compels states to scan all passports and visas and share the massive database of information created -without privacy protections. This collected information will include social security number, phone numbers, residence addresses, and in some cases, medical history (on vision, needed medication, and more).

How the REAL ID Act Violates International Law and Norms

In addition to gutting a treaty the U.S. has signed and ratified, the REAL ID Act also undermines Eleanor Roosevelt’s legacy, and reneges on the United States’ commitment to the world, as embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 14 of the Universal Declaration — along with the entire Refugee Convention — provides for the right to seek asylum when an individual fears persecution for a fundamental aspect of their identity. These aspects include race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, and political opinion.

The REAL ID Act, however, makes a mockery of that right by requiring asylum seekers to demonstrate that one of those enumerated grounds is one of the “central reasons” for their persecution – not just “a” reason.

How is this to be proven? Must the asylum seeker read the mind of his or her persecutor? Yet without this proof, the asylum seeker will be sent back to his or her country of origin – where they will be likely to face additional, and possibly worse, persecution.

In this respect, the legislation not only violates the Universal Declaration but, much more deeply, it also mocks America’s longstanding claims of being a beacon of hope and freedom and democracy to people living under tyrants and dictators.

The REAL ID Act, by sending a harsh message to asylum seekers who regard the U.S. as a haven for safety from repressive countries, undermines such claims. The Statute of Liberty, on the day this Act passes, ought to shed a tear.

Why the REAL ID Act May Actually Harm, Not Bolster, National Security

Supporters of the REAL ID Act claim that its provisions will make America safer from terrorists.

Yet, one of the main reasons America is a target is the perception that it is arrogant, and lacks respect for people beyond our borders. By flouting well-known international norms, the REAL ID Act only exacerbates such a perception.

Even as the U.S.’s own allies – such as the European nations who are linked through the European Court of Human Rights – try to connect their international norms with their domestic system, the U.S. blatantly violates these very norms.

It thus risks alienating the very nations on which we have repeatedly been dependent in war-on-terrorism enforcement. These – and many others – are among the nations we most need to cooperate with, and share information and expertise with, if we are to effectively prevent another attack. (This is equally true as it pertains to other national security goals, such as partnering with Europe to challenge China’s growing military capabilities, as pointed out in the June edition of The Atlantic Monthly) Unfortunately, the REAL ID Act only moves us even further apart.

By contrast, abiding by the international norms the U.S. has promised to honor – and even, in some cases, touted – would present the U.S. as a nation that wants to share a set of values with the rest of the world. It would reassure allies that they are right to join together with the U.S.

For all these reasons, the REAL ID Act may compromise our collective security more than it protects it. Thus, refusing to support this Act is not only the right thing to do; it is also the wise and safe thing to do.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.”

Ron Paul on Tucker Carlson discussing his opposition to the Real ID and any national ID card. Carlson suggests Paul come on his show more to provide a “tutorial on what it means to be free.” I’m sure Carlson could use the help.

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4 Responses

  1. To support Ron Paul donate now through midnight at http://www.RonPaul2008.com

    Check the latest about this Freedom Bomb in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at http://www.FreeAtLast2008.com

  2. In light of the recent news of Obama, Clinton, and McCain each having their private passport info accessed illegally it is somewhat humorous and ironic that they all support the Real ID. I guess they like these kind of privacy breaches. The rest of us will just have to get used to it, or actually do something about it.

  3. […] Tribune has an article on the bill. You can find more information about the dangers of Real ID here. A huge Thank You, Senator! goes out to my State Senator Jane Nelson for her vote against this […]

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