Fear DHS, not al Qaeda.
Times, 14 Jan 2008 (Letter).
Fear DHS, not al Qaeda
Everyone is missing the point about the Real ID Act, under which a strong central government is forcing states to meet its standards for driver's licenses ("Chertoff pushes states for air IDs," Page 1, Saturday).
The federal government says it wants nationwide driver's license standards to defeat fraud, illegal aliens and terrorism. Some state leaders argue against nationwide standards because compliance will be costly. The issue not covered in news reporting is whether Americans ought to be required to carry a photo ID at all.
Allowing the federal government to decide this makes a mockery of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves most powers to the states or to the people.
I want the standard for my driver's license to be decided in my state capital, not in Washington. I want to use the license to drive a vehicle only. In a free country, I would not be required to identify myself to a federal government official in order to enter a government building or board an airliner.
The federal government says the September 11 hijackers used false ID documents to board airliners. That isn't true. Some of the hijackers obtained driver's licenses by misrepresenting their residency. But none misrepresented his identity. Every one of the hijackers had a driver's licenses issued in his real name.
In six years of disarming innocent travelers at airports, the federal government has not rooted out a single terrorist and probably has not deterred any. It has, however, taken from me the right to travel freely in my own country. It has made me accountable to my government. It should work the other way around.
I'm not afraid of terrorists. I'm afraid of a homeland security apparatus in Washington that was once meant to be temporary, is now bloated and growing and is out of control. We would be safer if no one had a photo ID. We would be more secure if the government would focus on destroying al Qaeda instead of conducting futile screenings at airports. We will be free only when we restore the 10th Amendment and return to the states the decision as to what a driver's license should look like.
ROBERT F. DORR