The Revolving Door That Never Stops Turning

Six years ago I started speaking out about a small company in Massachusetts called Viisage Technology. Not many people paid attention to what I had to say because the company was only a $50 million company. However, after a few quick steps that would rival anything you might find on any of the reality dancing shows on television Viisage has morphed into a billion dollar plus company.

I can provide a number of reasons you should care about L-1 Identity Solutions, the company Viisage Technology transformed into. I will start by mentioning that Louis Freeh (former Director of the FBI), Admiral Loy (former head of the Transportation Security Agency), George Tenet (former Director of the CIA), Frank Moss (former program manager for the State Department’s E-Passport program), and many others who previously held key positions in the federal government all joined Viisage/L-1 as members of the Board of Directors or as paid employees of Viisage/L-1.

It must be really sweet to sign off on contracts worth millions of dollars, tens of millions or more in fact and then turn right around and go on the payroll of the same company that you awarded the contracts to. Sure, Tenet, Freeh and the others may not have had to sign the actual contracts but certainly they are responsible for knowing who the contracts went to when they were in charge of their respective agencies and departments.

L-1 dominates the state driver’s license business. L-1 also produces all passport cards, involved in the production of all passports, provides identification documents for the Department of Defense and has contracts with nearly every intelligence agency in our government. To a large extent it is fair to say that your personal information is L-1’s information. L-1 is the same company that thinks our political party affiliation should be on our driver’s license along with our race. L-1 has a long history starting with its taking over Viisage Technology. It was a great sleight of hand, Viisage morphing into L-1 while Viisage was under investigation by our government.

Viisage settled a class action lawsuit that alleged members of the Board of Directors sold stock in advance of what they knew what be a negative quarterly financial report. Viisage is the same company that had a state driver’s license contract voided by the Georgia State Supreme Court for misrepresentation. Perhaps you attended the Super Bowl in 2001 that was held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Super Bowl that year is referred to as the “Snooper Bowl” because the fans that went to the game had their facial images captured and compared against facial images stored in law enforcement databases. You know all those cameras we see being put up in cities around our country. Those cameras are not pointed at terrorists, they are pointed at you. Through the use of facial recognition technology, a biometric, your facial image can be captured by a camera and then compared to facial images stored in law enforcement databases and in Department of Motor Vehicle databases. If we hurry as a country we can catch up to where the British are at; the average person in London is captured by CCTV (Closed Circuit Television cameras/surveillance cameras) 300 times a day. Better yet, we can do what the Chinese want to do; we can use CCTV and facial recognition technology to identify dissidents. Chinese citizens can thank L-1 for thinking of them. L-1 is a company that supplied a Chinese citizen with facial recognition technology knowing that citizen was going to offer the technology to the Red Chinese government for testing.

Wait a minute; stop the press! We do not have to worry anymore about Viisage Technology or L-1. You see L-1 is being sold to two European companies. One of the companies is buying the division of L-1 that has contracts with nearly every intelligence agency in the United States government. The biometric and documents credential divisions are being sold to a French company named Safran. Just think about how happy you can feel now knowing that your personal information including your social security number and biometric information (fingerprints, Iris scans and digital facial images) may soon be available to a French company. The federal government must sign off on the deal before the deal can be sealed. All this brings us back to the topic of the revolving door that exists between government and corporations.

You will never guess who is on the payroll of the French company. Let’s see, I earlier talked about the former heads of the TSA, FBI and CIA but I left out DHS; shame on me. Our former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, the honorable Michael Chertoff certainly did not take long to walk through the revolving door. Last year, 2009, Mr. Chertoff was the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. This year, 2010, he is a strategic advisor to the French company Safran. Maybe I am not too quick but I do not understand how one year a person goes from heading our lead agency on homeland security and the next year the same person sees no harm in allowing a French company access to our personal information.

Allow me to conclude this learning session with two other tidbits of information. For those of you who refer to the Real ID Act 2005 as an attempt by the federal government to create a “national ID card” please adjust your thinking. On page 68 of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Real ID Act you will find a tiny little footnote that reads as follows: “The relevant ICAO standard is ICAO 9303 Part 1 Vol 2, specifically ISO/IEC 19794-5 – Information technology – Biometric data interchange formats – Part 5: Face image data, which is incorporated into ICAO 9303.” The ICAO is the International Civil Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations. That’s right, American citizens are being enrolled into a single global system of identification and financial control over which they have no representation. Please stop calling Real ID national ID; it is international ID. By the way, who stands to gain from the implementation of Real ID starting April 2011? You guessed it, L-1 or should I say Michael Chertoff and his employer, Safran.

Sarcasm alert – The final tidbit of information comes from the International Biometrics Agency. For all of you that keep talking about a New World Order or a One World Government, please stop such ridiculous rumors. Julian Ashbourn speaking as the Chairman of the International Biometrics Agency set our minds to rest when he said the following: “What information do governments share? With whom is my data shared and why? All of these questions need to be addressed by an agency with global powers.”
An agency with global powers? Perhaps I am naive but I always believed we live in a sovereign country. You may have heard of our country, The United States of China. No, that is not right, The United States of the Britain. I will get it right; The United States of France. This country thing is really getting hard to remember. We have the surveillance cameras like Britain; we use facial recognition like China to identify dissidents and we sell L-1 to a French company. Thank goodness for my granddaughter, she just reminded me of what Congress and others have forgotten, this is the United States of America.

Mark Lerner is with the Constitutional Alliance and author of the book “Your Body is Your ID.” His article is distributed by the American Policy Center. americanpolicy.org

Tom DeWeese
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Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.