The current attempt to inflict Americans with the burden of having
to carry a national ID card did not begin on 9-11 and, indeed, is
unrelated to it. The attack on the World Trade Center is just a
convenient excuse to promote this thoroughly un-American idea.
Totalitarian governments keep their subjects under constant police
surveillance by the technique of requiring everyone to carry "papers"
that must be presented to any government functionary on demand. This
is an internal passport that everyone must show to authorities for
permission to travel even short distances within the country, to move
to another city, or to apply for a new job.
This type of personal surveillance is the indicia of a police
state. It operates as an efficient watchdog to stifle any emergence of
Having to show "papers" to government functionaries was bad enough
in the era when "papers" meant merely what was on a piece of paper. In
the computer era, when the paper ID card is merely the tangible
evidence of a file on a government database that contains your life
history, it will control not only your right to board a plane, but also
your right to drive a car, get a job, enter a hospital emergency room,
start school or college, open or close a bank account, cash a check,
buy a gun, or access government benefits such as Social Security,
Medicare, or Medicaid.
With the use of a Social Security or other unique number, modern
technology can make it so easy for bureaucrats at every level to
monitor, record and track our daily actions and make them contingent on
showing the ID card. This would not only be the end of privacy as we
know it, but it would put power in the hands of Big Government that is
inconsistent with freedom.
In 1996, Congress tried to create a national ID card by requiring
state drivers' licenses and other state-issued documents to comply with
federal identification standards, including the use of Social Security
numbers as the unique numeric identifiers. Scheduled to start in
October 2000, this law, fortunately, was repealed in 1999.
It's important for Americans to understand that the 9-11
hijackings are a problem of the U.S. government allowing illegal aliens
to roam freely in our country, and promiscuously issuing visas without
proper certifications. It's also a problem of the government failing
to enforce current immigration and visa laws, and failing to deport
illegal aliens including those who overstay their visas.
At least 16 of the 19 hijackers fit in one or more of these
For more than two weeks prior to 9-11, the FBI had been trying to
find one of the hijackers whom the CIA had spotted meeting with a
suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole. But all the FBI had to go on
was his visa application, which listed his address as "Marriott, New
York City" (where there are ten Marriott hotels and he never went to
any of them).
The U.S. State Department is a big part of the problem. Some
3,700 consular officers worldwide approve 80 percent of the 8 million
visa applications every year.
The U.S. law that requires an alien's border crossing document to
include a machine-readable biometric identifier (such as a fingerprint
or handprint), and requires that the identifier match the appropriate
biometric characteristic of the alien, has never gone into effect.
We are not going to tolerate a system that treats U.S. citizens
and aliens the same; all aliens are not terrorists, but nearly all
terrorists are aliens. We do not want to live in a police state, where
every American is treated like a terrorist, drug trafficker, money
launderer, illegal alien, or common criminal.
Larry Ellison, the head of Oracle Corp., the leading database
software company, has offered to donate the tools for creating machine-
readable ID cards that contain digitized thumbprints and photographs.
Isn't that generous of him! A government ID card requirement would
allow Oracle's government and industry customers to more accurately
monitor the citizens in their privacy-invading databases.
We should have a computerized database of all aliens entering the
United States, whether they are tourists, students, or workers, and a
tracking system that flags the file when a visa time expires. Aliens
should be required to carry smart ID cards that contain biometric
identifiers, the terms of their visas, and a record of their border
crossings and travels within our country, similar to the rubber stamps
used in all passports.
Airports should be equipped with the machines to swipe the smart
card every time an alien boards a plane. Dumb questions like "Has your
luggage been under your control since you packed it?" should be
replaced with useful questions like "Are you a U.S. citizen?".
Fortunately, the Bush Administration has rejected proposals for a
national ID card and no member of Congress had introduced ID card
legislation as of September 28. Let's keep it that way.