Just As I Thought

Papers, please

Do you ever think to yourself that it’s all gone too far, this new emphasis on “security”? I place that word in quotes because my common sense tells me that the vast majority of the new “security” is there to make people feel safe, to make legislators feel as if they’re doing something… when in fact, they’re just wasting time or creating a pointless police state.
What’s a scarier thought is this: perhaps they know they’re making a police state, and have other intentions.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved on Thursday a sweeping set of rules aimed at forcing states to issue all adults federally approved electronic ID cards, including driver’s licenses.

Under the rules, federal employees would reject licenses or identity cards that don’t comply, which could curb Americans’ access to airplanes, trains, national parks, federal courthouses and other areas controlled by the federal government. The bill was approved by a 261-161 vote.

The measure, called the Real ID Act, says that driver’s licenses and other ID cards must include a digital photograph, anticounterfeiting features and undefined “machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements” that could include a magnetic strip or RFID tag. The Department of Homeland Security would be charged with drafting the details of the regulation.

Republican politicians argued that the new rules were necessary to thwart terrorists, saying that four of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers possessed valid state-issued driver’s licenses. “When I get on an airplane and someone shows ID, I’d like to be sure they are who they say they are,” said Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, during a floor debate that started Wednesday.

Allow me to point out that this “Real ID” would have done nothing to stop the hijackers. First off, Tom Davis, the driver’s licenses that they were issued were from — yes — Virginia. Second, as far as I can determine, they had their correct names. They were valid, real IDs. They were who they said they were.
Just issuing someone a truthful ID doesn’t prevent terrorism. If you don’t know who the terrorists are, how does having a valid ID stop them?

Another pointless security flourish that’s been pointed out lately (although I’m not sure where I read it so I’ll attribute it later): the checking of boarding passes to IDs. Last week when I flew, I checked in at home and got a boarding pass via the web. The damned thing wouldn’t print correctly in Safari, so I took a snapshot of the screen and printed that instead. Of course, I could have very easily changed the name on the boarding pass to fit whatever ID I happened to be carrying. Someone could print out two passes, one with an alias to pass through security (which is the only place they check your ID); and a correct one for boarding… although, when I boarded the attendant didn’t even look at the boarding machine where my name scrolled on a little screen. Beep! Next! No one cares. False security.

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