Update On Federal ID System

In the June issue of the DeWeese Report, I told you that federal law now requires all states to issue driver’s licenses with fingerprint IDs by October 2000. Though the conclusion of my report was accurate, one major point was not. Contrary to my report, Section 656 of the federal law does not mandate fingerprinting. To find the hidden regulations that lead to mandatory fingerprinting one must go on a legislative scavenger hunt. Here’s the whole story.

Finding the Hidden Fingerprint Regulations

    STEP A: In 1996 Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act. Section 656b of that Act, titled “State-issued Driver’s Licenses and Comparable Documents,” requires Federal Agencies to prohibit the use of state driver’s licenses unless they conform to standards authorized by the Secretary of Transportation. The Act ordered the Department of Transportation to provide those regulations within one year of passage of the Act. The Act also ordered states to use the Social Security number as the “unique numeric identifier.”

Other than the mandatory use of the Social Security number, the Act did not spell out the specifics of other identification processes to be used in the new cards in order to comply with DOT regulations. The Act did not mandate the use of fingerprinting. Instead, the Act stated, “The license or document otherwise shall be in form consistent with requirements set forth in regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Transportation AFTER consultation with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA).” These are the people who run each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

    STEP B: On Wednesday, June 17th, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of the U.S. Department of Transportation complied with Section 656 of the Act and published the proposed regulations entitled “Driver’s License/SSN/National Identification Document.” Once more, in the regulations, the DOT skips around the mandating of finger printing. Instead, the regulations quote the Act, again stating that the “form” of the driver’s licenses will be determined after “consultation with the AAMVA.”

    STEP C: So, what recommendations are we to expect from these consultations with the AAMVA? There are at least two very revealing clues found on the hidden trail leading to finger printing. The first can be found in the AAMVA magazine called “MOVE.”

In the Fall, 1997 edition, within an article entitled “BIOMETRIC APPLICATIONS – BIG BOON OR BIG BROTHER,” the AAMVA’s intentions are clear. Declaring the driver’s license to be the accepted identification document, the article sought to find solutions to consumer fraud. Said the article; “the answer might be right at their fingertips.”

The article goes on to describe the technology of “biometrics,” including unique individual characteristics “such as fingerprints, facial structure, or structure of the eye’s retina.” A Dr. Jim Wayman is introduced as the man picked by the Federal Highway Safety Administration (FHSA) to study which method of biometrics to use. It’s Dr. Wayman’s job to determine “appropriate fingerprinting standards for use.” Dr. Wayman recommends that “jurisdictions be consistent in which finger they use for imaging. If standards and fingers are not consistent, jurisdictions won’t be able to exchange and compare information.” Dr. Wayman concluded: “AAMVA’s got to make those decisions; AAMVA must set the standards.”

And there is a second piece of evidence pointing to the AAMVA as the designated villain who will fingerprint us all. Any American may contact their local DMV and ask for DMV guidelines for the design of driver licenses. Inquiries will be answered with a booklet, published by the U.S. Department of Transportation, “in cooperation with the AAMVA.” Title of the booklet is “DRIVER LICENSE APPLICANT IDENTIFICATION AND LICENSING SYSTEM SECURITY,” document number DOT HS 803 800. Page eight, section four of this document says: “The right thumb or index finger print should appear on all applications for a driver license.”

Conclusion: A National ID Card With Your Fingerprint

There simply can be no question that the federal government is moving rapidly to implement national fingerprinting on a national ID card that we will soon all be required to carry. Those, like Senators Diane Feinstein and Ted Kennedy, who helped push Section 656 into the Illegal Immigration Act, along with the Department of Transportation and the AAMVA, have apparently worked hard to hide their national ID plans, and especially the fingerprinting scheme, from the American public.

The DOT regulations mandate that states comply. If driver licenses in any state fail to meet DOT standards, citizens of that state will not be able to participate in routine, life-essential functions after the imposed federal deadline of October 1, 2000.

And what are the services that will be affected by the national ID card? Here are just few items:

    1. AIR TRAVEL: The White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, chaired by Vice President Al Gore, directed the Federal Aviation Administration to issue new guidelines regarding identification of air travelers, which includes presentation of appropriate ID prior to boarding. Also, under the new DOT regulations, no one could make application for a new passport or passport renewal without presenting the national ID. 2. BANKING: The FBI’s Financial Center (FINCEN) that monitors all foreign and domestic financial transactions has required banks to confirm the identity and Social Security number of all account holders. Account holders that do not present the appropriate identification must have taxes withheld from their account balances to prevent “tax evasion.” Under the new regulations, banks will not be able to establish new accounts nor cash checks for anyone who does not use the national ID. 3. EMPLOYMENT: The federally mandated “New Hires Database” and the “Employment Eligibility Confirmation System” requires EVERY employer in the country to submit detailed information about every new employee or employee that has changed status as of October 1, 1997. This is done in the name of catching “deadbeat” parents. However, employees will not be allowed to use any ID that does not conform to the national ID standards. 4. MEDICAL CARE: In September of 1997, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala announced recommendations for “medical records privacy.” Her guidelines included the establishment of a “unique patient identifier,” and the centralization of all medical records on a federal computer system that allows law enforcement to have access to your medical information without a warrant. Having already stated her desired requirements, it is certain that the national ID will be incorporated into any medical record rules issued by HHS Secretary Shalala. 5. MEDICARE, MEDICAID, and SOCIAL SECURITY: The new regulations will directly prohibit anyone from receiving any federal social support services without having a national ID card. 6. PURCHASE OF FIREARMS: Part 2 of the Brady Law requires the presentation of an acceptable form of ID to confirm the identity of all firearm purchasers. Under both the current Brady system and the proposed National Criminal Background Check System, the FBI will not approve a transaction to anyone not using a national ID card after the October 1, 2000 date.

Does This Frighten You?

Are you concerned that the federal government is moving to put a national ID system in place? I have received letters and notes from several supporters of the American Policy Center who say they are not. They say they are more concerned with catching deadbeat dads and illegal aliens. Some have said they would gladly put their thumbprints on a national ID card, “just to catch these lawbreakers.” To tell you the truth, that attitude frightens me as much as the government’s actions.

At the very least, a central federal computer system is being designed that will affect your ability to earn a living. In this one card will be the power to deny you a job, the ability to move from one place to another and to obtain medical services.

Once this system is in place, national ID cards will come complete with computer chips that will include medical records, school records, employment records, tax records and possible arrest records. It will be your source of money, as cash is replaced with “smart cards” that also serve as credit cards and ATM cards.

Who will be running the computers that contain all of this life-giving information? Answer: Government bureaucrats earning minimum wage. It has been estimated that nearly thirty percent of all of the information currently stored in government data banks is incorrect. If you have tried to purchase a home in recent years, you probably had to go through the nightmare of correcting the errors in your credit report before the mortgage loan would be approved. Imagine what would happen if incorrect information kept you from getting a job or purchasing groceries with your one-stop government-approved national ID card?

What if an error in the card indicated that you were wanted by the FBI? Who would you turn to for correcting the information? If you like dealing with the IRS you will love the new America under the new national ID system.

There is always a reasonable, innocent-sounding reason to surrender liberty for security. Illegal aliens are a terrible problem in this country. Something must be done before we are overrun. Deadbeat dads must be brought to justice – or we will all pay for their free ride and lack of responsibility. There are some who passionately argue the need to put computer chips under the skin of children. That way, if the child is abducted or runs away, they can be located and returned.

But turning all Americans into criminals to catch a few is opening the door to pure, uncontrolled tyranny. Personal information in the hands of a stranger is a perfect setting for fraud and corruption. There is no way to control it.

The favorite defense of the social planners is that only criminals have to fear the system. As long as you are law abiding, you have nothing to worry about. Really? And who is to say what will be illegal tomorrow – once the system is in place?

First the system will be used to locate illegal aliens and deadbeat dads. Then an exception will be made to use the system to track down welfare cheats and then those who may have sexually transmitted diseases. All worthy exceptions. We don’t mind, do we? No bother to us. We are innocent.

What if a new administration should come into power, armed with new laws? What if the new President said, “let’s use the system to track down now-illegal guns?” Or what if you wrote a letter to the editor last year attacking the administration’s policies? What if the angered administration should decide to get even? At the whim of a government bureaucrat you could find your ability to travel cancelled; your checking accounts frozen; your job gone. In short, you can’t run and you can’t hide.

Is this really the America you want to live in? Do you really favor allowing such an uncontrollable system to be put into place? Will you also accept television-monitoring devices to be placed in your home so the government can make sure no illegal activity is taking place? It sure would be more efficient that putting cops out on the streets.

One of the greatest protections Americans have always had against invasive government power is the government’s inability to keep track of our every movement. Allow the federal government to obtain that ability and there is simply no control over government.

The Congressional Effort to Stop the NAtional ID

These new national ID regulations violate every notion of federalism, because they force states to comply with regulations issued by the federal government without constitutional authority to do so. Nor are federal agencies empowered to force states to gather detailed information on every person in order to comply with federal mandates.

Congressman Ron Paul of Texas said, “the establishment of a ‘national’ driver’s license and birth certificate makes a mockery of the 10th Amendment and the principles of federalism.” He went on to say, “what would the founding fathers say if they knew the limited federal government they bequeathed to future generations would have grown to such a size that it claims power to demand all Americans obtain a federally-approved ID before getting a job?”

Congressman Paul backed up his words by successfully placing an amendment to the omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congressman just before adjournment. His amendment forces a one-year delay before the Department of Transportation can implement the provisions of section 656(b) and enforce the national ID system. Paul’s amendment also delays the implementation of HHS Secretary Donna Shalala’s order to establish national health identifiers to Medicaid and Medicare programs. Further, Congressman Paul intends to introduce legislation in the 106th Congress to permanently repeal both.

It is imperative that all freedom-loving Americans work to create a groundswell of support for Congressman Paul’s efforts to restore American liberty and stop the national ID card system. His amendment has bought us some time. Now we must make good use of it.

As Benjamin Franklin once said, “those who would give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security.”

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.