Thursday, December 09, 2004

Show Us Your Papers

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed an intelligence reform bill that grants sweeping intelligence gathering powers to the federal government through the creation of a new cabinet position. Bad idea. Even worse, buried within the bill--which the Senate is set to pass today--is a provision for standardizing state issued driver's licenses for the purposes of information sharing. This is nothing less than the establishment of a national ID card. Members of Congress know that US citizens are wary of such a move, and so the provision seems benign. By using the language of "standardizing" driver's licenses, Congress is providing political cover for themselves. It does not take rocket science to see the ramifications of such a provision.

Authoritarian states have always controlled the movements of their citizens through the use of identification papers. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Empire were very adept at keeping their citizens in line by such means. That we have reached the technological sophistication of computer-read cards does not lessen the potential for abuse at the hands of a national government, even a government that acts with good intentions for the sake of its citizens' safety.

I can understand the fear and frustration associated with the threat of terrorism. This, however, is the price of maintaining a free society. Freedom is risky business. Government imposed security will not make us safer, and it will make us less free. I am willing to risk terrorist threats, trusting that God is in control, and that all things are in His hands. I am not willing to risk my freedom or my family's freedom for the sake of the convenience and expediency of government intelligence gathering. We must stand against such a fundamental assault on our civil liberties.


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