Michael Chertoff Threatens the Governor of Montana

Updated September 5th 2008 – Comments and trackbacks have been reopened.
I think that Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana said it best.

Do you want our government to have the ability to track where you went, how you went, how you got there and when you got home? It would be naïve for someone to think this information will not be abused in the future. Virtually every decade these kinds of files have been used to violate people’s privacy.

Back in the nineties during the Clinton era a National ID was bandied around. As a matter of fact it snuck it’s way into an appropriations bill but was subsequently dumped. Most folks I know hated the idea of a national ID and the possibilities that come along with it. I am afraid of what abuses might occur should the federal government have a clearing house where all of our information was readily available to anyone to abuse. Talk about serious identity theft.
Since 9/11 the REAL ID act has been slowly rolling out and people that would have considered it unthinkable a decade ago find it quite OK. What the fuck is up with that? Wasn’t it Ben Franklin who said “Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither”?
Over the last couple of years several states have started to oppose the REAL ID. For the most part it is because of financial and planning reasons but some of it is because our state governments feel that it is not in their best interest to be the policemen for the federal government in matters of taxes and social security.
Just as in the National ID stuff of the 90s that never made it to fruition the Real ID Act of 2005 was passed by Congress not as it’s own standalone act but as part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005 PL 109-13. It was basically snuck in as a stealth measure. Because of everything else the bill entailed Congress pretty much considered it a must-pass.
It doesn’t just create a federal driver’s license, it gives the information to the Department of Homeland Security and calls for the creation of databases of information on everyone. It makes the state DMVs spies for the federal government. There is nothing in our Constitution that gives any branch of the government this kind of power. So here’s what happens when it goes into effect.
Without a Department of Homeland Security approved conversion of your driver’s license into a Real ID you can’t board an airplane, get a passport, enter federal buildings or do ANY kind of business withe the government of the United States.
What about some of our elderly folks that weren’t born in hospitals and have no birth certificate? It’s a real problem for some of them. Take James Scotts for example. He lives in New Jersey and they imposed a six point ID verification program to begin complying with the Real ID Act. He is 81 and was born at home in South Carolina. Scott, a former WWII veteran brought his photo-id issued by Passaic County and his social security card in to renew his license and since he didn’t have a recent passport or birth certificate they wouldn’t renew his driver’s license. It’s now expired and he can’t drive.
There is also the possibility of RFID chips being embedded into the Real ID cards. With those suckers you can track anything, anywhere. Fuck that noise.
Last year my state (Georgia) passed a bill allowing the state to delay implementation of the Real ID until protections can be established that guarantee the economic privacy and biological sanctity of Georgia Residents. Hopefully that will never happen and we will just keep on putting the Federal government off.

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Montana is also one of the other states that is resiting the Real ID. Here’s a bit of an article from Downsize DC that talks about it as well as Michael Chertoff’s reaction:

Brian Schweitzer, the governor of Montana, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. The letter informed Chertoff that Montana would not be complying with the REAL ID Act. Our quote of the day supplies one of the reasons for Governor Schweitzer’s rebellion. In response to the letter . . .
Secretary Chertoff called Governor Schweitzer and threatened him. Chertoff told Schweitzer that Montana residents would be banned from airplanes, or subjected to severe, time-consuming inspections at airports.
The Governor countered with his own threat, “How about we both go on 60 Minutes a few days after the DHS starts patting down Montana driver’s license-holders who are trying to get on the planes and both of us can tell our side of the story.”
Chertoff didn’t like that suggestion. He said, “I see the problem. We need to get this fixed.”
So far, the “fix” involves granting Montana and all other rebellious states an extension of the deadline for complying with the REAL ID Act. But the real fix is to repeal REAL ID.
Have you protested to your elected representatives that the Secretary of Homeland Security has been threatening the citizens of states that don’t comply with REAL ID? If not, please do so. You can mention the Chertoff-Schweitzer exchange in your personal comments. Ask Congress to repeal the REAL ID Act. You can send your message here.

Tell the government to go fuck themselves and call your representative on this.

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