U.S. Government Threatens Retaliation Against States who Reject REAL ID

REAL ID is the U.S. government plan to impose uniform regulations on state driver’s licenses. It’s a national ID card, in all but cosmetic form. (Here is my essay on the security costs and benefits. These two sites are also good resources.)

Most states hate it: 17 have passed legislation rejecting REAL ID, and many others have such legislation somewhere in process. Now it looks like the federal government is upping the ante, and threatening retaliation against those states that don’t implement REAL ID:

The cards would be mandatory for all “federal purposes,” which include boarding an airplane or walking into a federal building, nuclear facility or national park, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told the National Conference of State Legislatures last week. Citizens in states that don’t comply with the new rules will have to use passports for federal purposes.

This sounds tough, but it’s a lot of bluster. The states that have passed anti-REAL-ID legislation lean both Republican and Democrat. The federal government just can’t say that citizens of—for example—Georgia (which passed a bill in May authorizing the Governor to delay implementation of REAL ID) can’t walk into a federal courthouse without a passport. Or can’t board an airplane without a passport—imagine the lobbying by Delta Airlines here. They just can’t.

Posted on August 20, 2007 at 6:01 AM93 Comments


Anonymous August 20, 2007 6:37 AM

Could they do other things though? For instance, I’ve heard some states were forced to increase their drinking age from 18 to 21 or have their federal highway funds withheld. Hopefully the states will stick together and hold out no matter what the federal gov’t does.

Nick Lancaster August 20, 2007 6:44 AM

I wouldn’t put anything past the Bush Administration, including further trashing of the Constitution.

Now, I know there are visitors from the ‘you just hate Bush’ crowd, but the question of REAL ID is a serious one – how will it make us more secure? Are we making the assumption that terrorists can’t have valid IDs, even when the administration is busy preaching fear and the necessity of domestic spying (which means there are terrorists among us)?

And given how Democrats knuckled under and let the Bush Administration trash FISA, I won’t be counting on them to have the spine to say no should Chertoff decide he’s the reincarnation of Felix Dzerzhinsky (they sure as hell look alike).

aikimark August 20, 2007 6:46 AM

Does this mean we will be able to commit federal crimes and stay out of federal court houses if we lived in these states?

Does Habeas Corpus trump Real ID?

Does the judiciary trump DHS?

Rich August 20, 2007 6:48 AM

It’s a Get Out Of Jail card for all defendants in federal trials. “Your honor, the defense called a witness who wasn’t allowed into the building.”

nostromo August 20, 2007 7:01 AM

Yes, you won’t be allowed to enter the courthouse. So you’ll be tried, found guilty, and sentenced in absentia. You may think that the Constitution prohibits that, but the courts have repeatedly found that Consitutional provisions are not absolute, and can be trumped by an overriding need of the Federal government.

NoPantsJim August 20, 2007 7:02 AM

I suppose it will be easy for some to avoid having these cards. Just don’t commit crimes and don’t fly, it’s your choice. What about people like me, currently in school to become an air traffic controller, who will probably have to carry one of these cards against our will?

dhasenan August 20, 2007 7:12 AM

In this case, the federal government has made those monetary threats, and given the expense that REAL ID would incur with no federal aid, these states are determining that it’s cheaper to risk cutting off aid than to implement it.

And if the federal government cuts off aid to seventeen states, well, those states may just find less reason to assist in the collection of federal taxes.

They wouldn’t, of course, refuse to pay or do anything overtly military. And the federal government could not respond militarily to that. So there’s some question as to where that could lead.

Ed T. August 20, 2007 7:13 AM

“I suppose it will be easy for some to avoid having these cards. Just don’t commit crimes and don’t fly, it’s your choice…”

Maybe so, but you might also get summoned for jury duty, and attendance in response to such a summons is NOT a ‘choice’ – or, while it may be, the penalty for ‘choosing’ NOT to go can be pretty severe.

However, I think the idea that a US Citizen would require a passport to visit a NATIONAL PARK is absolutely-freaking-HILARIOUS!

je je je je je 🙂


quick August 20, 2007 7:19 AM

Heh, but it’s not just the defendants. It’s the witnesses, lawyers, and judges, too. Hah! Talk about a cluster-f!

sraun August 20, 2007 7:29 AM

What percentage of US citizens currently have passports? How much is it going to cost the FEDS in providing extra passports if they actually push this through?

David August 20, 2007 7:36 AM


In the US, at least, you don’t get passports for free. My guess is that the Feds make money on them, or at least are close to breaking even.

So, if you’re in a state that doesn’t cooperate with Real ID, and you get a summons, do you then have to pay extra for faster service for your passport?

@Ed T.

The two times I’ve been called for jury duty it was in county courthouses. Would not having a passport qualify somebody to get out of federal jury duty? They do have exemptions (hence the saying that a jury is twelve people not smart enough to get out of jury duty).

Brandioch Conner August 20, 2007 7:44 AM

What’s the goal here?

#1. To prevent terrorists from blowing up pieces of Yellowstone? Get real.

#2. To prevent terrorists from meeting in Yellowstone to plan their terrorist activities? Get real.

So what, specifically, does restricting the access of US citizens to Yellowstone accomplish?

#3. Annoy everyone who disagrees with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s rulings.

Yeah, that makes sense.

It’s called “Freedom”, Chertoff. You might not like it. Too bad.

Martin August 20, 2007 7:47 AM

Although not strictly on topic, the US Federal government is not only trying to impose its will on the states, it’s also trying to impose its will on other nations. The US requirement for biometric data in passports means that many countries now require it in their passports. As a UK citizen I am disappointed that the UK government has showed less independence from the US federal government than some of the US states.

And things will probably get worse: Rudy Giuliani is proposing a Secure Authorized Foreign Entry Card (SAFE Card). Clearing immigration when coming into the US is painful enough already.

There are costs to these measures – tourism and business to the US will be affected. I am a former US resident and used to holiday fairly regularly in the US, but the hassle of traveling there already makes me think twice and consider other destinations.

The onerous ID requirements make it harder for non-US students to study in the US will be detrimental to both the medium term economic prosperity of the US and to its foreign relations.

Mike August 20, 2007 7:52 AM

@Ed T.
You said “Maybe so, but you might also get summoned for jury duty, and attendance in response to such a summons is NOT a ‘choice’ – or, while it may be, the penalty for ‘choosing’ NOT to go can be pretty severe.”

IANAL, but since federal court is usually done in a state (ie, federal court in Georga) as opposed to Washington DC, I don’t see this becoming an issue due to the fact that the citizens of the state are governed by the state. If they don’t have real-id, it is not their fault. Furthermore, it wouldn’t surprise me that the states that banned real-id, also ban the use of passports as a substitute.

I don’t believe that the government could come up with a compelling enough argument to force a trial in abstencia. This is usually reserved for situations where the defendant refuses to come to court or they can’t be reached (such as in another country with no extradition). As you will note, most trials do not go forward if they can’t find the defendant. The fact that a person must be able to participate in their defense is a an important right. We would rather convict people of murder when there is no body (has been done frequently) than have a trial without the defendant participating in their defense (rarely done).

Dixie August 20, 2007 8:17 AM

The Federal government has been making states kowtow for ages, not just the last 8 years. Consider the latitude a school board has to set policy now versus fourty years ago. Now the school board probably accepts federal money, which means it must comply with federal rules. Consider federal highway funds — they also come with strings. And so on and so on.

If you don’t like what Chertoff suggests and think the states should stand up against it, you are advocating states rights. In a very real sense, you are a (gasp!) member of the Confederacy!

t3knomanser August 20, 2007 8:17 AM

For a change, it’s nice to see our government working properly.

The Fedgov invents new policies and mandates it to the States. The States, which are separate entities, flip Fedgov the bird.

I really do hope that they stick to their guns. Fight this all the way- why, if I were a governor, my final counter would be to repossess Federal property under Eminent Domain.

Paeniteo August 20, 2007 8:18 AM

@nostromo: “Yes, you won’t be allowed to enter the courthouse. So you’ll be tried, found guilty, and sentenced in absentia.”

Why this? Of course you, as a defendant, will be allowed into a courthouse without ID: Fully handcuffed and escorted by two SWAT troopers.
This is entirely reasonable: As you don’t have an ID, you are a potential terrorist anyway.

T.M. Brooks August 20, 2007 8:29 AM

They might get away with passports-for-flying (as that’s interstate commerce, generally) but the courthouse ban would not stand examination. You can’t bar citizens from access to their government around here (yet).

The idea, of course, is to make it uncomfortable for local legislators to resist REAL-ID. It would be better for the feds to fund it, if they really want it accepted, but then they’d have to take on approval (and blame) for the programs.

Part of the economic calculus is that there’s only down-side for the states. Not only do they pay for the whole program, they have to discard the (presumably acceptable-to-them) existing ID process, institute a new one, and take the blame for any errors made along the way. One reason why this isn’t a federally-funded program is to allow DHS to export risk and create finger-pointing sites when something goes wrong and the next set of terrorists are well-identified.

CGomez August 20, 2007 8:32 AM

The solutions are simple. Stop relying on the feds for money. Elect representatives who are going to turn the tax system right-side-up… more money taxed and spent locally… less nationally.

It’s more effective governing anyways. I can influence my local city, county, or state more than I can influence the national government.

But the paranoia over a national ID… I dunno. We already have mandated ID… we just have 50+ versions of it. That seems a little silly if you are trying to authenticate someone. And while clearly many times authentication is not necessary… when it absolutely is, why do we have 50+ protocols for doing it?

Justin August 20, 2007 8:34 AM

Incredible. I can’t see this having a good outcome if it goes to the current Supreme Court, either.

I agree with t3knomanser on giving the fedgov the bird. Though, maybe we should instead use a little fake steve jobs:


blockquote>Let me tell you something. Here at Apple we have a standard response for this kind of request. It’s called siooma. Have you heard of it?



kevindwhite August 20, 2007 8:40 AM

Brooks is correct. The primary objection to RealD is financial. The burden is large for states but trival for the federal government. Once the program is properly funded the states will fall in line. No one gets elected by turning down free money. The result will be a truely Federal identification program.

Anonymous August 20, 2007 8:42 AM

So apparently nobody from outside the US will be able to visit any national parks? How about national monuments?

I’m Canadian, so no worries there – more tourist dollars for us.

merkelcellcancer August 20, 2007 9:19 AM

At some point in time, better sooner than later, the department of homeland insecurity has to be dismantled, brought down to its knees.

Dave B. August 20, 2007 9:28 AM

“Passports for internal flights? Didn’t the Soviet Union have those too?”

Technically it’s a visa, I think, but Russia still has them.

Rich Wilson August 20, 2007 9:31 AM


The Soviet Union’s ‘internal’ passport survived the breakup of the union. Russia (and I assume other former SU states) has an internal passport, in which pretty much everything is recorded.

Scott August 20, 2007 9:33 AM

The only real thing that Congress can do is withhold funds for states that don’t implement RealID, like they did when some states refused to increase the drinking age. The Federal Government cannot force the state legislatures or executives to do anything, including enforce Federal laws. You are a citizen of two entities at once: your state citizenship and your federal citizenship, and they are separate but equal.

Preventing individuals from boarding planes because they don’t have RealID quite likely violates the commerce clause as well as the freedom of assembly (how can you get to D.C. to petition the government for redress of grievances if you can’t board a plane?).

RealID does nothing for security.

FP August 20, 2007 9:41 AM

From a certain point of view, Real ID makes sense. From the CNN article:

“there are presently 8,000 types of identification accepted to enter the United States. It is simply unreasonable to expect our border inspectors to be able to detect forgeries on documents that range from baptismal certificates from small towns in Texas to cards that purport to reflect citizenship privileges in a province somewhere in Canada”

In this light, having a unified ID makes perfect sense. It solves the immediate issue of identity validation (with the caveats listed in Bruce’s essay). Presumably it will be easier to detect forged documents when all the expertise in detecting forgeries can be concentrated on one “baseline.”

What worries me more is the increasing “papers, please” mentality. As soon as there is a Real ID, it will be required in more and more places and situations. (Paying with cash? Real ID, please!) And of course the aggregation of data that ChoicePoint and all will only be too happy to link with your Real ID information.

Instead of arguing against Real ID, we must fight against the root cause, and limit the situations where a Real ID will be mandated (federal buildings? national parks? airports?). As seen in the quote above, Real ID solves a problem. We should make the problem disappear rather than fighting its solution.

Brandioch Conner August 20, 2007 9:58 AM

“Instead of arguing against Real ID, we must fight against the root cause, and limit the situations where a Real ID will be mandated (federal buildings? national parks? airports?).”

No. The problem with that is that once it is required ANYWHERE that can be used to justify its requirement EVERYWHERE.

There is no need for us to have a Federal ID to access our government.

There is no need for us to have a Federal ID to travel between our states.

security blog August 20, 2007 10:26 AM

Its good to see some states standing up to the this new power hungry government.

What ever the next interation of government (repub/dem) I hope they don’t keep bloating the executive power. Being an American means something much different than 50 years ago. And it is the govt thats made that so.

Ron Paul ’08.

Anonymous August 20, 2007 10:26 AM

…and the US takes yet another giant step closer to becoming the same as all the totalitarian communist regiemes it claims to loathe…

Cliff Wells August 20, 2007 10:45 AM


If someone is crossing an international border, they already need a passport.
I fail to see how REAL ID creates any sort of additional security for people already inside the country. The “8000 types of identification” is a straw-man.

Well, unless U.S. citizens are to be met with daily “your papers, please” requests from authorities (probably followed by a nervous, seemingly interminable delay while they access a federal database that’s overloaded with requests, full of security holes and misinformation).

Speaking of, what happens if a glitch deletes your information, makes it inaccessible, or incorrect (maybe a typo?). Do you become an accidental terrorist like Buttle in “Brazil”?

Andrew2 August 20, 2007 10:46 AM

@ Scott

“Preventing individuals from boarding planes because they don’t have RealID quite likely violates the commerce clause as well as the freedom of assembly (how can you get to D.C. to petition the government for redress of grievances if you can’t board a plane?).”

You can take a bus. Or walk. And the commerce clause only prevents states from doing anything. It actually grants the feds the power to restrict commerce.

@ FP

Confusion about which documents allow a person to enter the united states shouldn’t have anything to do with requiring documents to travel within the united states. If you’re a US citizen and want entry to the US, get a passport.

yoshi August 20, 2007 10:58 AM

@Andrew2 and @scott

You don’t need an ID to get on a plane. I doubt this requirement will change if (or when) real id gets implemented. Simple fact: ids get lost – they must have a process to deal with that.

Petréa Mitchell August 20, 2007 11:17 AM

Considering how the passport-creating system is barely holding up now, and considering the meltdown that’s expected next year when people need passports to get back into the US by land or sea, can you start to imagine what it would be like with this requirement?

DanC August 20, 2007 11:22 AM

The fun thing about this is when Wyoming and Texas reject it, the people who brought us this lunacy won’t be able to do their jobs any more. What sweet irony.

GinTPA August 20, 2007 11:26 AM

Wait a sec: As I remember airports are at best municipal constructs not federal (look at all the bonds floated to build ’em..). And the airlines…hm…those are commercial entities as well.

So the “federal purposes” mentioned would strictly be the federally “mandated” security inside of the not-federally controlled airport, right?

Mike August 20, 2007 11:27 AM


I the UK in general you already need ID in order to fly (generally a passport or driving licence).
If you don’t have any ID then you don’t fly.
If you’ve lost your ID then you don’t fly.
This includes internal flights.

The process to deal with lost IDs is that you get a new one and until then you don’t fly.

As far as I’m aware there’s no law that enforces this, it’s just in the T&C of the airlines.
It’s to their advantage because it means that you can’t sell your ticket onto somebody else.

reinkefj August 20, 2007 11:40 AM

Not that New Jersey would grow a set and stand up to the Federal Gooferment like NH and others, but if they did then the poor taxpayer might show a “profit”. Last time I looked it was estimated that we get back a supposed 86 cents in “federal benefits” for every 136 cents we sent to the Rat Hole on the Potomac. So if we rejected Real Id, do we have to pay Federal Taxes? That begs the question if the definition of citizen is allegiance for protection AND if the Federal Courts have rule the gooferment has no specific duty to protect you (as if they could), THEN what duty do we have to this fraud? Now where is my torch and pitchfork? Time to ride the crooks out on a rail. BTW in case someone couldn’t guess I’m a Ron Paul contributor and will vote for him if I get a chance. Not that it will make much difference in the Pepuls Republik of Nu Jerzee!

Bill P August 20, 2007 11:54 AM

Ironic! I just read this piece from the Washington Post…


Bush was struck by a metaphor in the book comparing a tyrannical state to a soldier pointing a gun at a prisoner until his arms tire, he lowers the gun and the captive escapes. “Not only did he read it, he felt it,” Sharansky said last week.


Too bad this doesn’t mean that Bush felt his arms get tired. Guess that a tyrant is a matter of perspective?

Maybe we will see some states “escape” giving the rest the courage to run!

Where do the Feds get their money? The citizens of the states. What happens if the majority of states protect their citizens from prosecution for not paying Income Tax to the Feds? What would happen if the States decided the purpose and amount the Feds got?

Sorry- my fantasy!

Carlo Graziani August 20, 2007 12:03 PM

The structural issue that makes reforms like RealID seem like such a threat is that there is evidently no bureaucratic or political constituency dedicated to protecting privacy. That is to say, whatever positive ends — security, personal authentication, etc. — may be served by creating a strong ID system, they are counterbalanced by a well-founded fear that the system will be abused by government data harvesting efforts.

Although that said, I would point out to people who are up in arms against the Feds on this that the encroachments on our privacy carried out by private sector actors such as credit rating agencies and marketing data brokers are already far more dreadful than any consequence imaginable downstream from RealID. It makes no sense to foam about the evil Feds demanding our papers while complacently allowing ChoicePoint and their ilk to manipulate and trade our credit records and lifestyle preferences like baseball cards.

The point is, there is no real protection of privacy in the US, whether from the private sector or from (Federal, State, or local) Government. We have almost no laws with any teeth to counterbalance the natural market and governance forces that tend more and more to break down our privacy as our personal data becomes more and more mobile, aggregable, correlatable, and valuable.

It is futile to expect DHS, DOJ, etc. to act benignly with respect to our privacy. Their mandates span law enforcement and security, period. There is no bureaucratic incentive for them to waste any time or effort protecting privacy, and hoping for restraint to be imposed from above, even by an Administration not run by the current bunch of Commisars, is to make our privacy hostage to politics.

The point is, we need real privacy laws, limiting what all of these actors may do with our data without our consent, with real penalties up to and including prison for violators. Once a legal framework is created establishing privacy as a protected civil right, then we might actually be able to have a calm discussion of National ID and its possible positive uses.

Anonymous August 20, 2007 12:32 PM


re: Passport Cost

Yes, they do cost. I don’t know if they’re actually a profit center. However, how swamped are the passport issuers going to get, if all of the sudden they’re having to process 2, 3, maybe 10 times as many applications? The ramp-up is going to be something fierce!

Ted August 20, 2007 12:40 PM

Of course, states and their voters could exercise their right to be represented in the federal legislature by people who actually represented their constituents. Get the senators from 20 states together and they can kill just about anything – there’s a reason the legislature has budgetary and oversight responsibilities!

What I find particularly amusing is the notion that a passport will get you into a federal building. I was at an SEC facility not long ago and when I presented my US passport for identification (as I generally do when traveling) they requested my (non-RealID) drivers license instead. Since I was there in a security capacity I queried the guard about taking a non-authoritative form of identification issued by a state over an authoritative one issued by the federal government (just for fun of course), and got the expected “that’s the policy” response.

Now what will they do when faced with just passports that carry less information than a drivers license 🙂

Geoff Lane August 20, 2007 12:44 PM

The modern state love for “identity” is based on the false idea that if they collect sufficent information for long enough they can create real world equivalents of Asimovs psychohistory or Dicks precrime. They continue to believe this despite huge amounts of evidence to the contrary because the hired “consultants” say it can be done with just a billion or two of additional funding… Well they would wouldn’t they?

(As I write this, the TV is running a report about a 7 year old boy with the same name as a suspected but never charged terrorist being held for hours at the airport while they worked out that he wasn’t a middle aged man with a beard. The boy had all the necessary passport and other documents.)

Miles Baska August 20, 2007 12:49 PM

Why do we need yet one more federal ID? Can anyone show me how this is a GOOD idea?

Here’s hoping the states stand up and take back state’s rights.

I shudder to think about how much MORE damage BushCo. will inflicted in it’s time left….

Marty Busse August 20, 2007 1:10 PM

Does this mean they will no longer accept Matricula Consular cards? Or will IDs issued by US states that do not knuckle under be treated differently than those issued by Mexican consulates?

TikiLoungeLizard August 20, 2007 1:46 PM

Unfortunately, these cards won’t be used for their most practical use: Stopping illegal immigrants from having jobs, opening bank accounts, or collecting govt. benefits. Finland has very effectively done this with their I.D. system and controlled their problem with people coming from nearby former Soviet bloc countries.

Anonymous August 20, 2007 2:03 PM

“Could they do other things though? For instance, I’ve heard some states were forced to increase their drinking age from 18 to 21 or have their federal highway funds withheld.”

The Executive branch of the U.S. government cannot pass laws that would penalize the States. Only Congress can do that. Since those States are elected to Congress by the people of those States, I wouldn’t bet on something nefarious like that happening.

From a criminal law enforcement perspective, we continue to need a way to identify people stopped with probable cause and questioned. There is a national database available to every cop on the street to see if there is an arrest warrant outstanding. Searchable by name/DOB or State DL number. Unable to quickly identify a person means that person walks. Bad guys know that.

Bruce, can you recommend a solution that would better help secure America from known criminals?

Todd Knarr August 20, 2007 2:13 PM

Anonymous: How would REAL ID help secure America from known criminals in your example? People can still carry forged ID, or simply not carry ID at all, give the cop a false name and slip past having their warrant noticed whether or not we have REAL ID. The only way to get what you want would be to require that everyone carry their ID with them at all times and make failure to present that ID on demand itself a crime. I’m not sure I’d want to live in a country like that.

Brandioch Conner August 20, 2007 2:44 PM

@Geoff Lane
“The modern state love for “identity” is based on the false idea that if they collect sufficent information for long enough they can create real world equivalents of Asimovs psychohistory or Dicks precrime.”

Pretty much.

My view is that they are INCOMPETENT. They do not KNOW what data they need so they want to collect EVERYTHING in the hopes that SOMETHING in that mess is what they really need.

Date is useless by itself.

Correctly processed data becomes Information. Information can be used to decide a course of action.

Running random bits of data through the process just results in random noise.

“(As I write this, the TV is running a report about a 7 year old boy with the same name as a suspected but never charged terrorist being held for hours at the airport while they worked out that he wasn’t a middle aged man with a beard. The boy had all the necessary passport and other documents.)”

Exactly. That is the random noise. They collected useless information and processed it. The resulting “Information” was not only worthless, but it wasted time and effort of all concerned.

David August 20, 2007 2:55 PM

It seems we as citizens of the United States have forgotten that we are the federal and state governments. I know it takes a lot to overcome public apathy but you’d think that some of the idiotic things done by our federal government in the last 6 years would have made some kind of impression. I for one have decided it’s high time I became vocal to my “representatives” and let them know that they represent me, not some subset of corporate officers nor some few behind-the-scenes political party officials. Think I’ll have any success?

And by the way, where is that political lobbying reform we heard so much about during the last presidential election?

Lee August 20, 2007 3:30 PM

@Anonymous: The problem with depending on our national legislators to protect our interests is the time lag involved between legislation and re-election. There’s always been rhetoric about voting the bastards out if they pass laws you don’t like, but that’s too much like law enforcement: remediation is often too little, too late. It’s tough getting bad laws revised or rescinded. What happens if your senators or representatives are continually in the minority? Voters in one state can’t do a lot about the bad legislators elected from another state…

aikimark August 20, 2007 3:49 PM


Are you a lurker/flamer or are we supposed to accept your comment as a contiguous post in this discussion?

Most of us consider potential threats to our privacy to be a very important part of our vigilance to our rights granted by the constitution (with ammendments). Although I usually associate “states rights” with racism and republicans, I’ve expressed a distaste for unfunded federal mandates, such as NCLB and Real-ID. (showing some Libertarian leanings here)

I’m all for the Habea Corpus Restitution Act of 2007 and legitimate trials in our “war on terrorism.” I worry that this monarchical administration has assumed FAR too much power and that our ‘governents’ are unbalanced.

I’m not to whom, or which comments, you were expressing your “grow up” comment. Most fear mongerers would have you believe that security and privacy are a zero-sum game. If you read more on this subject, especially Bruce’s books and essays (shameless plug), you might be able to actively participate in such discussions as this.

aikimark August 20, 2007 3:54 PM



“I’m not to whom, or which comments”

should have been
“I’m not sure to whom, or about which comments”

Hmm August 20, 2007 4:30 PM

I hope everyone here will write their Congressional leaders and Senators as well as spreading the word. We’ve got to stop this from happening.

Dennis August 20, 2007 5:23 PM

Hey Max, fuck you!! We don’t have “off grid” communes in Idaho,. We are one of the states that told the feds to shove it.We also regularly refuse federal highway funds when we think the government is sticking it’s nose where it doesn’t belong.

Jon Sowden August 20, 2007 5:59 PM

@ Scott:
“how can you get to D.C. to petition the government for redress of grievances if you can’t board a plane?”


Nick Lancaster August 20, 2007 9:01 PM

So, let’s see. Would REAL ID mean …

  • That without a valid REAL ID, the government doesn’t recognize me and won’t provide services, so therefore, if I refuse to accept the program, I don’t have to pay taxes?
  • That if you are an American receiving financial assistance by way of food coupons, that you would have to possess a REAL ID to obtain those coupons, and that your local grocer would be required to verify your REAL ID in order to accept them as payment?
  • That in order to ship or receive a parcel, clerks for both the USPS as well as FedEx, UPS, etc. would need to check your ID, lest you send something harmful through the mail?
  • That your cell phone number, e-mail address, and IP would be associated with your REAL ID? I mean, if we’re spying on domestic-only as well as international calls, we want to know who the parties are, right? (Then add your credit cards, banking records, all your purchases … any aspect of data collection that fits within the Total Information Awarenesss concept.)

Clearly, that’s a lot of bureaucracy for zero security. It doesn’t protect a secure installation from a rocket launched on a nearby hillside, or a car crashed through a barrier. It makes the fatal assumption that someone with verifiable, standardized ID cannot be a terrorist, when we know this is simply untrue.

Consider our history – even during the period of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Chinese immigrants still found ways to enter the country … so how does an immigrant verify the legal documents that would grant them a REAL ID? If a state-sponsored terrorist group wanted to enter the country legally, what would prevent them from providing perfectly legitimate documents from that state and allow someone to obtain a REAL ID?

I’m preaching to the choir for most of you.

Max, your comment does nothing to promote your apparent argument that we should just ‘shut up’ while the government continues to steal and diminish Constitutional protections left and right. Try actually making an argument.

TheOtherAndrew August 21, 2007 12:03 AM

From a certain point of view, Real ID makes sense.

Not from my perspective. I am trained as a badging specialist. That means I take your government-issued ID (or in some cases corporate ID), personal information and biometrics and create what we believe to be a more valid ID for you.

there are presently 8,000 types of identification accepted to enter the United States.

So? What does this have to do with courthouses and national parks? I have a nice handy booklet on my console that gives me nice color photos of every valid state issued ID in the United States.

Presumably it will be easier to detect forged documents when all the expertise in detecting forgeries can be concentrated on one “baseline.”

Are you kidding? Most people, even skilled ID checkers such as myself and club bouncers, aren’t going to detect a “good” forgery (i.e. with a decent color laser printer) without tools such as UV light, or a database query.

As seen in the quote above, Real ID solves a problem. We should make the problem disappear rather than fighting its solution.

No, Real ID creates a problem. It moves the vulnerability to every DMV office in the country, operating as fifty different jurisdictions with fifty different interpretations of the Real ID rules.

The problem is not forged ID. The problem is forged people getting real ID.

This is why I have a dozen clients with a dozen unique styles of IDs, which we honor in situations where we do not honor consular IDs or state driver’s licenses.

The problem is positive ID of the person standing in front of you with a presence document and a right to work document. Nowadays, this often requires using biometric techniques (such as running prints) or a criminal background check (piling up a lot of database queries and paper, and calling people and computers to basically ask “Do you know Doug?”)

It’s not an easy set of problems. Creating a huge new bureaucracy and yet another “perfect” ID that will be cracked within days of release is not the answer. Because there is no “The Answer” or we would have it already.

Devo August 21, 2007 6:47 AM

You are all missing the point. Follow it out to its logical conclusion. First the Real ID Act will be passed. There is a reason the 70’s saw speed limits of 55 mph mandated by the federal govt. They withheld federal highway funds and all the states caved. This same situation occured with raising the drinking age to 21 so the govt knows it will get its way and trump states’ rights.
Second, anyone see the washington’s post article on satellite surveillance over the United States? More in a moment.
Real ID will come standard with an RFID chip. This cannot be seen from space however so on the surface everything seems legit. However in 8 years when you renew your Real ID, what is to stop say a GPS chip to be installed instead of an RFID chip?
Couple that with realtime satellite tracking over the United States and all it would take is a couple key strokes to pull up real time surveillance of ANYONE in the United States.
All I can say is WOW

T. M. Brooks August 21, 2007 7:50 AM

Heh, but my point earlier is that the feds don’t actually want Real ID to pass. They want to huff and puff and get a little traction with the states that were seriously embarrassed by the review that followed the incidents in 2001. But they don’t want anything testable.

If they did want Real ID implemented they know that they have to fund it, as well as wield the highway-funding stick. But they want some minor improvements in process, a way to do cross-state database lookups (which will happen), some states want to be seen “doing something” and DHS wants a reason to point fingers when the next set of terrorists have valid IDs (rather than look embarrassed and be holding the bag, they’d rather be embarrassed but have others hold the bag).

It’s an odd game, but it’s better to have a failed program that makes some changes in your desired direction than to have a finished program that doesn’t live up to the hype. Nobody expects a failed program to live up to the hype, but the changes don’t get rolled back. (c.f. Mel Brooks’ The Producers)

Too cynical? Maybe, but things are changing and nobody in their right mind could think that Real ID would meet its stated goals.

Anonymous August 21, 2007 8:49 AM

Presumably it will be easier to detect forged documents when all the expertise in detecting forgeries can be concentrated on one “baseline.”

You had couple extra words there, I fixed it for you:

Presumably it will be easier to forge documents when all the expertise in forgeries can be concentrated on one “baseline.”

Timmy August 21, 2007 8:51 AM

Presumably it will be easier to detect forged documents when all the expertise in detecting forgeries can be concentrated on one “baseline.”

You had couple extra words there. I fixed it for you:

Presumably it will be easier to forge documents when all the expertise in forgeries can be concentrated on one “baseline.”

Anonymous August 21, 2007 10:28 AM

@Cliff Wells: “If someone is crossing an international border, they already need a passport.”

Not true. Millions of Canadians and Americans cross the Canada-U.S. border while driving using only a driver’s licence.

DHS would love this to change, but increasing pressure from local constituencies on both sides of the border is forcing a recognition of just how badly it would damage their economies.

T August 21, 2007 1:41 PM

I am a big proponent of states rights, but I have to say that we should not forget that the federal government has one right that no one else has: the right to use force (guns) to achieve its goals. Extortion (e.g. withholding federal funds) often works more easily, but it is not the fed’s last resort. Now, if required, states could use state militias against the feds, but I don’t think any state governor would be willing to do that. There was a time when state governors would have been willing, but — and it pains me to say this — I think that time has passed. No one wants things to get “ugly” (as people say in the South).

komrade August 21, 2007 4:52 PM

We can’t walk into a national park or take a plane without an Orwell ID, but as a non-US citizen we can hire a mariachi band and a troop of elephants in Mexico, illegally walk across the US border with absolutely no identification papers, and Chertoff expects us to be given Social Security, education, free healthcare, and citizenship? What is the Real intention behind Orwell ID? It’s obviously NOT about “security”.

The point about drinking age and highway funds is very true, but misguided. If the feds try that with Orwell ID, each state will fight the act in court, which will see the law repealed because it’s unconstitutional. Instead, the states must be bought.

State governments aren’t fighting Orwell ID for privacy sake, they’re only fighting it because it will cost a lot of money. If the US government hands over enough money, the states will cave.

The passport offices can’t keep up with demand now, much less if Orwell ID goes into effect with so many states sitting out.

Not that it could happen in today’s apathetic society, but what would happen if thousands of protesters marched on Yellowstone with no ID? Another “Bloody Sunday” like Selma-Montgomery? I doubt it, but it really depends on how far the Feds are willing to go with communizing us.

Matt from CT August 22, 2007 9:36 AM

The states will, like others say, cave once the Feds pony up the money to pay. It is, with few politicians as exception, about money and not principles.

Principled state politicians would’ve told the Feds to shove the highway funds over the drinking age, speed limits, and today’s reduction from 0.10 to 0.08 Blood Alcohol.

Judges who actually enforce the law as passed by the legislative bodies (including the constitutional conventions / amendments) instead of believing it’s a living thing subject to their whims of how to interpret it from one political wind to another…would’ve also told the Congress to cram it.

At any rate, I’d love to see Chertoff try to mandate you need a passport to enter a Federal Courthouse — the first time a Federal Judge’s vacation is delayed because someone called to appear before the court (witness, etc) doesn’t have a passport…Chertoff will find out the meaning of Habeas Corpus when a couple U.S. Marshals show up to haul him before the Judge.

I’m not joking in that last paragraph folks — it’s a seperation of powers issue I haven’t seen the other posters make. The Executive Branch doesn’t make the rules for Federal Courts, they carry them out. It’s the Judges who make the rules and approve what security measures will be carried out. As much as they’ll trample over the Constitution on other stuff, frack the Judge’s baliwick and he’ll come down on you like a ton of bricks.

I’ve never done a true throw-away vote before…but since all the major Democratic or Democratic-Lite candidates are actively turning me off…all I can say is Ron Paul ’08.

Alice August 22, 2007 9:40 AM

The cards would be mandatory for all “federal purposes,”


This includes federal income taxes.

Dikaio the Sophist August 24, 2007 1:03 AM

To Sodomize the People

This post metaphorically describes how the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12) can be used as a device of absolute control over individuals and their institutions, to sodomize the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and its scientists, and to restrict and to shutter their science, in the same way that Global Warming studies were ridiculed and suppressed.


The deadline for signing the HSPD-12 forms that initiate a two-year, unbounded Federal background investigation required to obtain a new Employee Badge, is October 5, 2007.

Already, one smart, well-spoken, and courageous employee has put his dream job on the line, by refusing to agree to waive his rights to privacy and to waive all legal recourse to damage.


DigitalCommando August 24, 2007 1:26 AM

Perhaps Mr. Chertoff needs to be taken out to the back of the building, and “reminded” who’s boss here. Sorry cryptkeeper, it isn’t you. We can lay back and allow this pasty gray skinned, sunken face wannabe, to continue destroying our freedoms. Or the 17 states can set an example how real americans act in the face of tyranny. Were not buying your package dork, move on to your next scam. It’s about time we reign in the manaiacal DHS and take back our country from this trumped up constitution shredding machine.

Anonymous August 25, 2007 12:07 AM

All REAL ID really does is create internal passports in the US, so teh solution is simple, the states all need to reject REAL ID. This will mean that pretty much every citizen will need to get a passport. See how the US population likes their new found sense of security of producing a passport to fly domestically or visit a National Park!

The apartheid government in South Africa used a system of internal pasports, simply called a Pass, to restrict the movement of non-whites, who were required to carry their Pass at all times. The Pass listed the area in which the person was permitted to live and seek employment.

cmarnold August 28, 2007 2:50 PM

This makes perfect sense! If a member of the current (or future) administration refuses to get a Real-ID (and doesn’t have a passport) they would never be able to testify before Congress if subpoenaed. They’d also never be able to appear to defend themselves in Federal courts or later be accepted into a Federal penitentiary if convicted.

Never underestimate them or take your eyes off of them for a minute. 🙂


Doug August 31, 2007 11:15 PM

Don’t you people know that Bush (puppet to the CFR) has already distroyed our Constitution. On May 9 this year he signed legislation declaring that in the event of a catastrophic event, the President can take total control over the government and the country, bypassing all other levels of government at the state, federal, local , territorial and tribal levels, and thus ensuring total unpecedented dictatorial power. The Second Patriot Act was a mirror image of powers that Julius Caesar and Adolf Hitler gave themselves. The boot-licking U.S. Senate gave the President authority to abolish Habeas Corpus.

observer September 1, 2007 12:01 PM

REMEMBER?…”your papers please”… (1941 germany)

…and we fought, …and we won…because that just wasn’t right! people should be free and … well …uh, FREE means FREE!

and today, we now can ask…what did we win in berlin in the 1940’s? what of the thousands of mangleled bodies of u.s. servicemen and the bloody deaths of the other counted thousands?

what did our bloody ‘world victory won by the greatest generation’ purchase us today? what shadow of terror do we feel each time we find another layered program designed to ‘protect us’?

the german government in the 1940’s called them ‘third columinist’, today we say terrorist…the end result is the same…”your papers please. oh, excuse me i mean you national ID or passport, please”.

Everett September 1, 2007 1:30 PM

When we understand that we only have one administration. It is not Busch or Clinton, it is one world, Banker CFR. Who ever holds the title of president dosen’t matter.

sceptic September 1, 2007 3:08 PM

Are we clear? The Real ID isn’t about keeping someone from entering a federal building. It’s about keeping them – us – from accessing the ability to purchase anything (if we don’t remain citizens loyal to our keepers). When it all goes electronic. Just down the road we’re currently well on.
And with the National Guards overseas (or successfully federalized now anyway), and Posse Comitatus now put out to pasture, it is federal troops we will have patrolling our streets….or UN ‘peacekeeping’ forces…..
Somehow I think the Founding Fathers suspected that this day would come. This day. Not next year. Now.

Non-Jury Member September 2, 2007 6:09 AM

Re: Jury Mentioned and I.D.

I am aware that there are more jury convictions than ever in the U.S.A. because the judge gives direct instruction of what the law means. This disallows jury to judge law and defendant.

A summons and questionaire were sent me. I asked if I were breaking the law if not answering–told no. Next, I asked if I did not swear the oath if I were breaking the law–no answer, but told to come anyway. I stood but uttered no word nor raised my hand.

They sat me in the back of the room and never called on me–didn’t I.D. myself? Did not acknowledge myself to the summons. They made me show up every day.

santino marcello September 2, 2007 12:37 PM

this is all just one more step on the ladder to a North American Union. However, keep in mind that the State, not the federal government is the controling body that we the people have put in place to enact OUR will. State law trumps federal law, not the other way around. If the federal government insists on userping state law, then it is our right, our duty to remove them and install a new government.
God help us all if we fail to keep clinton, obama and edwards out of the white house. The marxist wing of the democratic party have even worse things in store for us if they get in office.
It is truely time for all of us that are TRUE Americans to start thinking again of exercising our constitutionaly assured right of secession.

John September 2, 2007 3:36 PM

It’s really time that we people who love this country start fighting back. Contact your Senators and Congressmen and tell them you do not want a Real ID. While your at it tell them that you don’t want Mexico & Canada to join the United States in a North American Union which is planned for 2010.

Anonymous September 5, 2007 12:48 PM

If you look at the national parks, the government is beginning to create buffer zones and bridgeways between all the national parks, especially in the west. National parks are surrounding the people. That means that federally owned land will be factionalizing the people. If you have to have a real ID to enter national parks, you will have to use one just to leave your state as your pass through their lands. It’s population control. You don’t go anywhere, without them knowing.

tim February 22, 2008 3:49 PM

there is no external threat to america, it’s a lie the government has created to make you afraid. they need you to be afraid, they need you to think there is an enemy. they aren’t forcing the real ID cards on us, people are begging for a heightened sence of security because they are afraid. the fear has been created by the government to controll you. and TO MAKE MONEY.

"Mission Accomplished" May 1, 2008 3:23 PM

The Bill of Rights?
The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

Should work in Iraq. God knows the U.S. Government plan ain’t worth crap.

frank neuman May 17, 2008 2:13 PM

people themselves that are guilty of a crime,are paranoid.bush is paranoid.now he thinks all the people in the U.S are criminals, because he is one.anyone who accepts this drivers licenses is making one more step to end our constitution and accept what may well be the mark of the beast

Midnightsghost67 May 25, 2009 1:33 PM

If this is not enough. Try being a North American Native Indian. Our rights for travel between Canada and the US unobstructed by the Jay Treaty of 1794 has taken a severe blow. Most US border crossings do not understand or are ignorant of the complex regulations governing travel of certain Native Americans that have no border. I am a US citizen (28 year US Combat Veteran) enrolled in a Mostly Canadian Native Tribal Band. A man of two countries trying to comply with the new WHTI regulations. Mandatory National Identification Cards/Passports are they necessary for safety? Or are they another way to track law abiding citizens during a time of Post 911 hysteria.

DANIEL March 29, 2010 7:42 PM

It is the first step towards the mark of the beast; and those who receive it shall burn for all eternity. This causes one to ask: “is it worth it?”

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via https://michelf.ca/projects/php-markdown/extra/

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.