Thursday, April 3, 2008

Maine Gets Real ID Extension + Senators Grill Chertoff

Tomorrow I'm going to get to the story breaking today about state run "fusion centers" that have access to personal information on millions of Americans, including unlisted cellphone numbers, insurance claims, driver's license photographs and credit reports.

But before I get to that post-9/11 big brother invention I wanted to finish the Real ID "extension debate" story, as Maine, the last state in the union to get one, finally can breath a sigh of relief, as the Department of Homeland Security gave in yesterday. The other half of today's post is the "hopeful assault" on Michael Chertoff by a number of members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This kind of talk by Senators can only be a good sign...

Wired Magazine reports on Maine's extension:

Citizens of all 50 states are now free to board airplanes using their driver's licenses -- at least unitl 2010, after the final renegade anti-Real ID state -- Maine -- won a time extension Wednesday from deadlines attached to new federal identification rules.

That means that Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff can now say more secure identification is on the way, while independence-minded states can honestly say they stuck a thumb in the eye of the federal bureaucracy.

On Wednesday, Maine's governor agreed to seek legislation to tighten licensing restrictions, including restricting licenses to residents and those who can prove their legal status in the United States. He did not, however, have to promise the changes would happen.


The ACLU claimed victory, saying that DHS capitulated to state's that reject the de facto national ID.

"The Department of Homeland Security, so desperate for a victory around Real ID, has agreed to give Maine an extension based on nothing more than Governor Baldacci’s assurance that he will introduce legislation to bring Maine into compliance," said Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU Technology and Liberty Program. "All 50 states, including those that have said they cannot commit to implement the law, have now received extensions, signaling DHS’s continued determination never actually to enforce Real ID. It has nearly perfected the practice of kicking the can down the road."

The Washington Post reports on Chertoff's visit to the Juciary Committee:

Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee criticized the Department of Homeland Security yesterday for pressuring reluctant states to adopt new federally approved driver's licenses, with one accusing Secretary Michael Chertoff of "bullying" the states into compliance under a threat of blocking citizens' travel.

"We ought to engage in a fairer, more productive negotiated rule-making with the states," the committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), told Chertoff. "Maybe people want to have a national ID card in their state. In my state, they don't..."Bullying the states is not the answer, nor is threatening their citizens' rights to travel. From Maine to Montana, states have said no."


Chertoff told the committee that some federal grants may be available to offset costs and that DHS is trying to be flexible, granting extensions until June 2009. He also listened as several senators complained about a waiting list for naturalizations that stretches beyond a year and will probably mean hundreds of thousands of citizens-to-be will not be able to vote in the November elections.

The first stage of the Real ID abomination is over...I'd say its States 1, Feds 0.

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