Is The US an Operating Democracy Any More? (Real ID Act Updates)

Originally posted August 22

From Slashdot, (hat tip MediaGirl):

rev_media writes to tell us that CNN has a few updates to the Real ID act currently facing legislators. The Real ID acts mandates all states to begin issuing federal IDs to all citizens by 2008. Costs could be as much at $14 billion, but only 40 million are currently allocated. Several states have passed legislation expressly forbidding participation in the program, while others seem to be all for it. The IDs will be required for access to all federal areas including flights, state parks and federal buildings. People in states refusing to comply will need to show passports even for domestic flights.

So yeah. Internal passports (along with exit visas) are the very mark of the beast. At the point where you have to show internal papers you are no longer living in the land of the free.

I find this all very interesting because there are majorities for universal healthcare and for abortion on demand, and have been for ages – yet there has been no action on either of these things. There is a majority for getting out of Iraq yet every nominee who stands a chance of being the President with the exception of Richardson won’t rule out “residual forces” – just as American legislators won’t do what the majority wants, yet there seems to be this bipartisan consensus for spying on Americans (there was no public outcry for the FISA changes); for torture; for ending habeas corpus; and for internal passports and a computer system which will tell you if you can work or not and which you won’t be able to fully appeal the damages of false positives to the court system (this restriction of the courts right to try cases is becoming more and more common.)

The only conclusion one can come to anymore is that the US is no longer a functioning democracy. The elites in the country are doing what they want to do no matter what the majority opinion. If the opinion is far too far against them, well, they will use propaganda (the 70% of Americans who believed Iraq was behind 9/11) and they expect (indeed, they know from repeated experience) that the media will propagate their propaganda and not challenge it. Indeed, when 5 media conglomerates control about 80% of all media, it would be surprising if it were otherwise.

More After the Jump

The US is an oligarchy and it acts like one. Hourly wages for non supervisory employees haven’t gone up in 30 years but the proportion of national income for the top 1% has soared. The majority of all gains from the last expansion went to the rich. Bonuses on Wall Street last year were equal to the raises of 80 million ordinary Americans. When the housing bubble started crashing last year there was no bailout, but when hedge fund millionaires started hurting the Fed rushed in (might not work, but they’re at least trying).

There was a class war in the US. The rich won it and their employees in government are working for the people who pay them (when you have to raise $10,000 a week as a House Representative, who do you think gives it to you? Think they’re doing it out of the goodness of their hearts? Don’t make me puke.)

However, the forms still remain. Despite thumbs on the scale, and despite some electoral problems, it is still possible for Americans to toss the bums out. Failure to do so will reap the entirely predictable and expected result of a continuation of the trend until a Depression hits. Then… you might get FDR… or you may get someone much nastier, and with it lose even the pretense of Democracy.

About author View all posts

Ian Welsh

56 CommentsLeave a comment

  • All you state is true. This is just the continuation of the struggle between the elites and less elite, rich vs. poor, powerful against less powerful, commerce vs. religion, Kings vs. subjects. It’s just this time around the technology has sped up the transfer of wealth due to the digital manipulation of the currency, globalization lubed up with dead dinosaurs; re-rise of fundamentalism with access to nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, or actual state controlled weapons, not to mention the millions of small arms turned loose. The name of the game is economic Darwinism. If you’re not willing to thieve using the tools of government, too bad so sad for you and yours.

    If there is not major repudiation of what bushism has delivered, the U.S.A. will go into a sever state of repression/depression.

    “The president’s job is to think not only about today, but tomorrow”
    george bush delivers deep insights in a speach given on
    April 19, 2007
    Tipp City High School
    Tipp City, Ohio

  • The expiration of democracy in the US occurred on 17 Oct 06 — the date that Congress passed the Military Commissions Act. This feckless legislation terminated habeas corpus, and placed the Executive branch above any meaningful checks and balances.

  • the death was earlier with the passage of Patriot Act I and the formation of Homeland Security. It’s been downhill since then.

    But then I have seen madness grip the United States before–the McCarthy 50s. Your country snapped back somewhat from that disaster, just not positive it will survive the aftermath of 9/11.

    I do expect Americans will strongly resist a national ID card. Perhaps trying to enforce cards for everyone signals the demise of Homeland Security? I pray that Americans wake from their slumber before ‘all’ freedom is lost. Voters must not trust Diebold with the next election.

  • you take all the fun out of being a shrill polemicist, ian. your way is so much more damning, and effective.

    yup. i don’t know what date history will assign to the death of the first experiment with american democracy, but it’s close by. for those who say “we went thru this before,” i’m not so sure. the impending economic, energy and environmental crises will really test that resiliency, i think.

  • I believe the thing driving this is an attempt to restrict access to Social Security benefits and Medicare. Even today, you must have a valid ID to get benefits from Social Security and Medicare but, even now, getting a drivers license requires both a birth certificate and a Social Security card; you can substitute a passport for one of those IDs. Getting a Social Security card, a passport, or a birth certificate requires, guess what? a drivers license! It is very difficult for most elderly people to navigate this mess. Our community has some volunteers to help the elderly obtain valid ID but immigrants need not apply.

    If you have any doubts about the impact of this, go down to your local SS office say nice nice to the armed guard who runs the metal detector and listen to what goes on at the window; yes, in our local SS office the clerks sit behind bullet proof plate glass.

    Now let’s suppose you have to show a national ID. What will it take to get one of these? Here is my advice, make sure you have your SS card, birth certificate, and a valid drivers license. If you don’t have these get them. If you are a legal immigrant, then make sure you still have all those papers. Get a passport if don’t have one.

    Give me control over a nation’s currency,
    and I care not who makes its laws.

    Mayer Amschel Rothschild
    (1743 – 1812)

  • but it does have causes.

    In the immediate instance, we can set aside the metaphor of the Great American People somehow “waking up” to the abandonment of democratic government of the last few years. The causes are more fundamental than the Sleep of Reason, although Fox News has indeed contributed, along with its partners in the media circus, to that.

    No, the United States has chosen, since the end of the Cold War, to maintain its Empire. The elite foreign-policy establishment — you might look at recent posts on Glenn Greenwald’s site — has embraced a condition of permanent war, which had something of an antiCommunist rationale since the end of World War II but since 1990 has only had the purpose of keeping the empire in line.

    The masses have accepted the bread and circuses that they have been offered. Endless War is necessary for Cheap Oil, and the U.S. Man In the Street wants the former and so will settle for the latter.

    There is an ecological movement, and there is an antiwar movement, and the two have not been united by a leadership with vision. Such could happen. But it won’t, if it does happen, be a matter of some sleeping electorate waking up.

  • There is no doubt in my mind that the US is a severely broken democracy. I think this has been glaringly obvious since the stolen election in 2000.

    I would like to make the case that ID laws by themselves are no great harm in a functioning open society. The Netherlands have a law that requires all citizens to carry a valid ID at all times and present it to police upon request but I think you’d be hard pressed to call them a totalitarian regime. ID requirements only become a problem once your society is already eroded because it makes a totalitarian power grab so much easier. I think it is because of the latter that the Real ID act at this point in time is so worrisome.

  • It is a very sad time in America. Sad being a mild word with possibilities far more negative – such as “scary.” I’m reminded of something I read on a blog recently about Thomas Paine, one of the original “founders” and a champion of people’s rights, about his going to France at about the time of their revolution and then leaving when France was about to turn from building a democracy to anointing an emperor. In one of the rare lucid moments for Tommy Franks, he warned that the next terror attack on the U.S. would be the end of the constitution. But America is in the process of doing just that without a terror attack.

    Maybe Katrina was a good substitute since that was the excuse to encamp and intern thousands of Americans suspected of nothing other than possibly voting for their own interests, which obviously were not in accord with the power interests. A private mercenary army boasted of killing in New Orleans. Nothing was done about that. The 82nd Airborne threatened news people if they dared photograph the real situation or make attempts to get to the reality of the events. But they were doing what they’d been doing for years already in Iraq – threatening reporters that dared mention the truth, a threatening act. The counting of the dead was stopped. That count itself being a threat to power. I’m surprised the death count of American military personnel in Iraq hasn’t been stopped, on the basis of providing strategic information to “the enemy.” I’m not sure which is more “the enemy,” Al Qaeda in wherever or the truth, wherever.

    Democrats are probably the best example of what has become America’s completely unrepresentative democracy. The Democrat party represents wealthy interests as much as the Republican party. Charles Schumer, the supposed New York liberal, gave us proof of that recently with his attempts to prevent taxing the work of fund managers in the same way that all other American workers are taxed, claiming somehow that their work is investment in America. As if miners who die in mines or steel workers who build the roads and bridges of America aren’t investing in America. Some people are somehow more “American” than others. Purely coincidentally, those “people” are usually very wealthy. They’re more “American” even when they set up foreign bases to avoid American taxes. As some Republican politician stated, it’s the smart thing to do. Expecting those “Americans” to contribute to America is the stupid thought.

    The grass roots, currently lead for the most part by leading blogs, is still working within the political system. But that system is so tainted and corrupt that the politicians that the blogs have given us as representative of the new realities in America, are really the same as the old politicians that don’t have any concerns about average Americans. We’re given choices hand picked by a political hierarchy decades in the making, at a cost of billions of dollars. Dollars that have little interest in average people other than as a source of cheap expendable labor. Markos, et al think we should work within the Democrat party. I don’t think a free America has enough time left for that avenue of rescue. The cavalry won’t make it in time if it has to go through the mud of Schumer Democrats.

    Much is being made of the “Bush dogs” Democrats but I think the problem would be better faced if the leadership were changed. The Democrat leadership gave us the “Bush dogs” mainly because that’s in their established interests, as contrary as that may be to a free and prosperous America. Cindy Sheehan’s lost cause against Nancy Pelosi is the right approach, but a stronger candidate would be a better choice. Does anyone still believe that Harry Reid cares about average Americans and the future of America? Please, no more Jim Webbs and their phony bluster as they goose step America away from democracy.

    P.S. A minor quibble. You stated, “there was no public outcry [over] the FISA changes.” If there was how would it be heard? The public dialog doesn’t belong to the public. The public’s voice is never heard. Though blogs are a venue for public dialog, that venue is still trivial in terms of all the people. Contrary to the still general view of the press and media in America, reporters aren’t lazy. They’re doing the job they’re paid to do, and that isn’t in any way related to the concerns of average Americans.

  • I’d put an approximate death-date around the time of the founding of the CIA. State secrets may be necessary during wartime (the OSS), but a nation that keeps state secrets in peacetime develops other bad habits, like incarcerating citizens secretly, operating illegal markets secretly, excluding whole segments of citizenry from participation in the government (by way of secret activities and collusion with groups connected with hate activities), cronyism (don’t tell me Dulles worked on merit alone), and a whole host of other sundry nastiness.

    I won’t claim that transparency will be the cure for what ails the US, but I feel that whatever its downsides, they’re a lot more manageable and less dangerous to our people, treasure and future, than all the secrecy.

    -5.75,-4.05 Rule of the Great:
    When people you greatly admire appear to be thinking deep
    thoughts, they probably are thinking about lunch.

  • Michael Collins
    Washington, DC
    Part 1 of series
    “The Meaning of the Legend”


    What they did and how they did it. Very interesting viewpoints and other good reads about election rigging at the page, especially HERE

  • My mistake. My apologies. I didn’t think “for” was right because almost everything about FISA is secret. The whole recent FISA danger was staged. The supposed problems with FISA existed for months, though even that time frame is unknown since the court decisions are secret and the leaks on them didn’t specify exact dates. Even the number of related FISA court decisions was unknown. The entire “emergency” was politically staged for just before the August vacations (ironically French like in that respect). If Democrats didn’t give Bush extra powers any attack on America would be their fault. This even though the “problem” existed for months. So a public outcry on the basis of information that wasn’t known to anyone outside of the Bush inner circle seems improbable. Were you expecting rioting in the streets on Bush’s announcement that America was in great danger of a terror strike because of the meddling FISA court? Rioting that would be called “in favor of protecting terrorists.”

    Back to the Democrat party. I wonder why the Democratic grass roots don’t require “pledges” from prospective Democrat politicians just as the Republicans have for years now. Such as the “no new taxes” pledges. The Democrat party is controlled by “Democrats” with little interest democratic issues. It’s time to force those issues. Any donations should be to specific individuals that pledge to support issues that average Americans are concerned about. Giving to the party as a whole seems to me to be a big mistake.

  • What I mean is that there is no large constituency of Americans asking for increased surveillance of Americans. There are continued increases of surveillance in the US, despite the fact that there is no real strong public support for it (whatever the numbers, it’s not a priority for ordinary people). Yet somehow it seems to be a massive priority for Congress.

  • The institution of confiscation-on-suspicion for “drug barons” was a major step. If you manage your money like a “drug baron” it can be confiscated and it will be a miracle if you ever get it back. This was a gift from Saint Ronald Reagan.

    And, of course, government by assassination was not a great idea.

    Forget it, Jake – it’s AmnesiaTown

  • Reagan official warns America could be a police state within 1 year.

    repressive governments mix administrative clumsiness & inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.

  • “The only conclusion one can come to anymore is that the US is no longer a functioning democracy.”

    It only was sometimes, by fits and starts.


  • from Carpetbagger Report

    Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell has managed to develop a fairly good reputation in DC, which is why it’s all the more curious he made comments like these to the El Paso Times.

    Q: Even if it’s perception, how do you deal with that? You have to do public relations, I assume.

    A: Well, one of the things you do is you talk to reporters. And you give them the facts the best you can. Now part of this is a classified world. The fact we’re doing it this way means that some Americans are going to die, because we do this mission unknown to the bad guys because they’re using a process that we can exploit and the more we talk about it, the more they will go with an alternative means and when they go to an alternative means, remember what I said, a significant portion of what we do, this is not just threats against the United States, this is war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Q. So you’re saying that the reporting and the debate in Congress means that some Americans are going to die?

    A. That’s what I mean. Because we have made it so public. We used to do these things very differently, but for whatever reason, you know, it’s a democratic process and sunshine’s a good thing. We need to have the debate.

    It’s hard to even know where to start with comments like these. To hear McConnell tell it, the very discussion of the administration’s surveillance powers will kill an untold number of Americans — but “sunshine’s a good thing.”

    And why, pray tell, are Americans going to die as a result of a public debate about presidential power? Apparently, because the bad guys will get a vague sense of the kind of tactics we’ll use to intercept their communications. That might sound vaguely persuasive, but it doesn’t stand up well to scrutiny. Terrorists might figure out that the U.S. will tap phone lines? I think they knew that. Terrorists might figure out that we can monitor email and bank transactions? I think they knew that, too.

    Indeed, what are these “alternate means” terrorists will use? Smoke signals? They’re going to stop using phones, computers, and banks?

    McConnell went to lament cynicism.

    A: The reason that the FISA law was passed in 1978 was an arrangement was worked out between the Congress and the administration, we did not want to allow this community to conduct surveillance, electronic surveillance, of Americans for foreign intelligence unless you had a warrant, so that was required. So there was no warrant required for a foreign target in a foreign land. And so we are trying to get back to what was the intention of ‘78. Now because of the claim, counterclaim, mistrust, suspicion, the only way you could make any progress was to have this debate in an open way.

    I’m sorry, but whining about a public debate over presidential power is rather offensive. McConnell seems to prefer that Congress secretly turn over secret powers to the president, while the public simply trusts, as a matter of faith, that the government will not abuse its sweeping powers.

    More at the link.

  • No, I will not comply by a previous United States presidential candidate teaching a civics class.

    Are ID cards the last straw? They would be for me… no way would I consent to fingerprinting and/or carrying a card that has “common machine-readable technology” that Homeland Security will decide on. Fingerprinting is for criminals and a humiliation for a law-abiding citizen be subjected to. That’s my line in the sand!

  • I’m just not sure which “one year” he was referring to. It’s definitely between 2002 and 2005 though.

    As Canuck said – “fingerprinting is for criminals”. I’m only prepared to offer them one print, and I apologize in advance for any inconvenience caused by them having to grab it in passing from the back of my middle finger.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Public education teachers in the US are required to submit to whole palm prints. Some would surely say, “ya, but they work with children,” as if teachers somehow pose a significantly greater risk to them rather than, say, a doctor, counselor, or the clergy for that matter. Which will be the argument made to expand the program, of course.

    Acquiescence will be made as easy and as expected as signing the back of your credit card.

  • When we first started producing hi-tech visas, green cards etc., there were four installations capable of printing them (effectively, each was a 6 million dollar model train set). There were 5 stations capable of actually reading them (all the OCR, magnetic, and optical printing on them, some of them encrypted). Four of those were for doing spot checks of the printing process. The fifth was someplace in DC, to do demonstrations. Border crossings? Hell no.

    As far as I can tell, having the technology is all that’s important. Trying to use it would take, like, actual work.

  • and then after that it will be because you work with food. Or medicine. Or chemicals. Or mines.

    “The best-informed man is not necessarily the wisest. Indeed there is a danger that precisely in the multiplicity of his knowledge he will lose sight of what is essential.”

    – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  • Our enemies were too shrewd to demand too much at once. They always limit their extortions to the amount which, in their opinion – and that of the German leadership – would at the moment be bearable enough so that an explosion or popular feeling need not be feared. But the more of these individual dictates had been signed, the less justified it seemed, because of a single additional extortion or exacted humiliation, to do the thing that had not been done because of so many others: to offer resistance. For this is the ‘drop of poison’ of which Clausewitz speaks: the spinelessness which once begun must increase more and more and which gradually becomes the foulest heritage, burdening every future decision. It can become a terrible lead weight, a weight which a nation is not likely to shake off, but which finally drags it down into the existence of a slave race. Adolph Hitler – Mein Kampf Vol II Chap 15

  • in quoting this? Hitler is talking about his enemies there! So we should follow the path he did to counter it? The man had an unyielding spine at times, that he did.

  • because there’s no way I’m having a passport or consenting to ANYONE getting my fingerprints unless I’m arrested which very well may be the way they’ll get them. L0L

    Teachers are fools to consent to such nonsense. Yes, I would give up that career if fingerprints were a requirement.

    Fingerprints are my ‘line in the sand’ and no one on this planet is getting them from me willingly. An agent will have to follow me around and lift them off objects I handle….hmmm maybe I should stock up on my inventory of gloves.

  • My point is that while imprisoned, Hitler was putting together his own blueprint for future power grabs. He evidently determined that the most effective police state is not created all at once, but by tiny and consistent nicks and intrusions that are palatable enough that citizens aren’t unduly alarmed. So, with “Little drops of poison”, rights and liberties are eliminated one by one until so much is lost or compromised that reclamation becomes overwhemlingly difficult. It seemed to be his opinion that power acquired in this manner is all but impossible to contest, perhaps concluding that waiting for a nation to collectively correct such situation was pointless.

    Capitalizing on wide spread but benign frustration he chose to opportunistically appeal to rabid nationalism, racism and flat-out brutality, effectively speeding up the drive to a police state.

    I emphatically did not mean to advocate his approach – but only to point out that continued acceptance of “little drops of poison” have the capacity to make a country’s people extremely vulnerable, confused and lacking in judgement.

  • Bush Administration Strikes Deal With New York on Secure Driver’s Licenses for U.S. Citizens




    The Bush administration and New York cut a deal Saturday to create a new generation of super-secure driver’s licenses for U.S. citizens, but also allow illegal immigrants to get a version.

    New York is the fourth state to reach an agreement on federally approved secure licenses, after Arizona, Vermont and Washington. The issue is pressing for border states, where new and tighter rules are soon to go into effect for crossings.

    The Arizona deal announced in August does not contemplate issuing licenses to illegal immigrants, said Jeanine L’Ecuyer, a spokeswoman for Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano.

    The proposed Arizona version would not be available to anyone illegally in the country, since one of the intended uses of the 3-in-1 identity card would be to prove U.S. citizenship, L’Ecuyer said. It could be used as a license, as proof of citizenship and as a passport-like document valid for travel in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. It would be voluntary and available for a small extra fee.

    “It is something that clearly would not be available for people who are in the county illegally,” L’Ecuyer said.

    The New York deal comes about one month after Gov. Eliot Spitzer announced a plan whereby illegal immigrants with a valid foreign passport could obtain a license.

    Saturday’s agreement with the Homeland Security Department will create a three-tier license system in New York. It is the largest state to sign on so far to the government’s post-Sept. 11 effort to make identification cards more secure.

    Spitzer, who has faced much criticism on the issue, said the deal means New York “will usher in the most secure licensing system in the nation.”

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he was not happy that New York intended to issue IDs to illegal immigrants. But he said there was nothing he could do to stop it.

    “I don’t endorse giving licenses to people who are not here legally, but federal law does allow states to make that choice,” Chertoff said.

    The governor made clear he is going forward with his plan allowing licenses for illegal immigrants. But advocates on both sides of the debate said Spitzer had caved to pressure by adopting the administration’s stance on tighter security standards for most driver’s licenses.

    GOP Rep. Thomas Reynolds, who represents the Buffalo suburbs, said he was glad Washington had heeded his concerns about border identification. But he said he feared that Spitzer “is taking this state down a risky path” by giving any kind of license to illegal immigrants.

    Under the compromise, New York will produce an “enhanced driver’s license” that will be as secure as a passport. It is intended for people who soon will need to meet such ID requirements, even for a short drive to Canada.

    A second version of the license will meet new federal standards of the Real ID Act. That law is designed to make it much harder for illegal immigrants or would-be terrorists to obtain licenses.

    A third type of license will be available to undocumented immigrants. Spitzer has said this ID will make the state more secure by bringing those people “out of the shadows” and into American society, and will lower auto insurance rates.

    Those licenses will be clearly marked to show they are not valid federal ID. Officials, however, would not say whether that meant local law enforcement could use such a license as probable cause to detain someone they suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

    “Besides being a massive defeat for the governor, I can’t imagine many if any illegal immigrants coming forward to get the driver’s licenses, because they’d basically be labeled as illegal,” said New York Rep. Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee.

    New York has between 500,000 and 1 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are driving without a license and car insurance or with fake driver’s licenses, Spitzer said in September when he announced his executive order.

    On the Net:

    Homeland Security Department background on Real ID:

    N.Y. Governor’s Office:

  • Newsday


    October 28, 2007

    WASHINGTON – Top state and federal officials signed off yesterday on a three-tiered structure for drivers’ licenses in New York – including Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s controversial plan to license illegal immigrants – but Spitzer backed away from his earlier insistence that the document be virtually identical to that of other New Yorkers.

    Spitzer agreed to mark the immigrant licenses unusable to board a plane or as federal identification, and to require passports and proof of state residency of all applicants – two major changes that already are drawing fire from immigrant-rights advocates.

    He also became only the fourth governor to win a long-sought enhanced-license option for those who live near the Canadian border to enable them to go back and forth without a passport.

    In turn, Spitzer’s compromises appeared to win acquiescence from homeland security chief, Michael Chertoff, not to fight Spitzer’s plan. And while Chertoff made plain that he didn’t like Spitzer’s new immigrant licensing, he said he was powerless to stop it and even indicated he was pleased Spitzer was working so hard to improve overall driver’s license security in New York.

    “I don’t endorse giving licenses to people who are not here legally, but federal law does allow states to make that choice,” Chertoff said.

    For his part, Chertoff got a powerful governor to commit to the federal government’s post-9/11 Real ID effort to make regular state driver’s licenses harder to forge. New York becomes the largest state to do so at a time when several governors are balking at the plans as too costly and difficult to put in place.

    Yet if both sides hoped yesterday’s announcement would solve nagging political problems, it appeared to do anything but, with advocates on both sides of the illegal-immigrant licensing controversy complaining the deal was bad for their side.

    Immigrant-rights groups said the deal could make it impossible for some to apply.

    Spitzer’s move “is a lose-lose political decision that betrays his most ardent supporters and emboldens the anti-immigrant opposition,” said Chung-Wa Hong of the New York Immigration Coalition.

    “Public safety for all is not possible when we carve out a million people to be outside of the public safety rules or stigmatize them as second-class residents marked by a Scarlet Letter.”

    But Spitzer’s Republican critics said his compromises did nothing to ease their fears that he was not only undermining security but also creating another incentive for illegal immigrants to come to New York.

    “The flip by the governor today does not change the fact that he is arrogantly insisting on giving driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, licenses that could still be used as breeder documents to obtain other valid forms of identification,” said Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

    Republican leaders also reiterated the prospect of legal action against Spitzer’s plan. “The conference is still definitely planning on going ahead with the lawsuit unless the governor rescinds the proposal by Oct. 31,” said Joshua Fitzpatrick, communications director for Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco.

    However, there were some signs of compromise. A statewide police group lauded the agreement, saying that licensing illegal immigrants would improve safety by subjecting people who are already driving to driver’s tests and insurance requirements.

    “The agreement … will benefit law enforcement efforts by identifying a larger portion of the undocumented population and will also encourage a higher standard for highway safety purposes among that population in New York,” said John Grebert of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police.

    Spitzer announced in September that he would grant drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.

    New York has between 500,000 and 1 million undocumented immigrants, many of whom are driving without a license and car insurance or with fake drivers’ licenses.

    Also unknown is the cost to taxpayers and drivers and the timetable for putting the plans in place. Previous estimates put the cost of implementing Real ID in New York in the tens of millions – most of which would be borne by state taxpayers. Spitzer anticipated the plans would be put in place sometime next year.

    The three tiers

    Enhanced license

    Will allow Western and Northern New Yorkers to cross the Canadian border without a passport.

    Federal rules next year will otherwise require a passport.

    DMV will have to verify the applicant’s identification documents. Will require proof of citizenship.

    Federally approved license

    A standard license available to most New Yorkers that can be used as ID for flying on planes. Verification rules similar to those for enhanced license.

    Driver’s license

    For illegal immigrants or those who do not want to pay the extra fee for a federally approved license or who cannot provide the necessary documents.

    Will contain the phrase “not for U.S. government purposes” and cannot be used for flying.

    Will require valid passport from any country and proof of state residency.

  • October 28, 2007

    Washington Times

    Congress is divided on the issue. Some lawmakers are fighting to repeal the act, but others have proposed millions of dollars to help states adopt Real ID standards.

    By Stephen Dinan – New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer said yesterday that his state will produce driver’s licenses in compliance with the federal Real ID Act, setting up a multitiered system to accommodate legal residents and issue driver’s licenses to illegal aliens.

    Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat who announced the deal in Washington with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, said New York “will usher in the most secure licensing system in the nation.”

    The move is a significant advancement for Real ID, which several states have rejected.

    Real ID was enacted in 2005, but the Homeland Security Department is still writing final rules for the program. It will require only secure driver’s licenses or nondriver’s ID cards to be used for federal identification purposes, such as airport security.

    It is not clear whether Mr. Spitzer’s action will help him overcome political backlash after he announced that illegal aliens would be able to obtain state driver’s licenses.

    Immigrant-rights activists, who were encouraged by the governor’s earlier announcement, yesterday said they were outraged.

    “Today the governor retreated from his own policy and crossed the line to the other side,” said Chung-Wha Hong, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition.

    Yet the move is unlikely to mollify those who oppose driver’s licenses for illegal aliens. Illegal aliens will be able to use the state IDs to open accounts at banks willing to accept the document.

    The New York Senate has passed a bill to prohibit the licenses for illegal aliens, blocking an executive order announced last month in which Mr. Spitzer said illegal aliens could show passports and other documents to prove their identity and state residency.

    Legal residents can choose from two licenses: a secure license that would comply with new U.S. international travel regulations and a regular license that would comply with Real ID.

    Mr. Chertoff said, “I don’t endorse giving licenses to people who are not here legally, but federal law does allow states to make that choice. What we can do is insist the licenses that do not meet federal requirements be clearly so labeled. New York has agreed to do that.”

    Seven states have enacted laws against Real ID standards, and the American Civil Liberties Union said another 10 states have passed resolutions calling on Congress to repeal the act.

    “Eliot Spitzer is acting in isolation,” said ACLU legislative counsel Timothy D. Sparapani. “No other governor, Republican or Democratic, has been willing to impose such a huge tax increase on citizens and sell out their privacy for this failed program.”

    Congress is divided on the issue. Some lawmakers are fighting to repeal the act, but others have proposed millions of dollars to help states adopt Real ID standards.


    Sen. Chris Dodd gave a great speech to the President on the rule of law and the constitution. Fine. Why does not he address the mystery of Congressional spinelessness? Why in the world was impeachment ‘off the table’ when Pelosi came in? Why in the world have such leaders as the Clintons caved in to authoritarian actions and views when even Bill was President? Hillary shrilly complained of a ‘vast right wing conspiracy’ as the Patriot Act itself was being composed during her own husband’s watch -as likewise even then things like Depleted Uranium came into acceptable use. To many of us now, the Clintons are little different than the Bushes. Seemingly all of our leaders are mysteriously silenced and/or compromised, as if having been coerced into or bought into this dismantling of our democracy.

    Black budgets, black ops, secret governing, backroom governing; none of this is new, true. The CIA itself was never originally authorized by Congress, true, true. Eisenhower warned us of the military./industrial complex, true. Why hasn’t Dodd, or Leahy, spoken of this entire issue in overview? It is like the elephant in the middle of the room they cannot speak of.

    The electoral college, voting itself now, has ever raised doubts. The ‘Floridaization’ of the 2000 election brought that to full bloom.

    The Total Information Awareness program mindset brought us to this FISA issue’s moment of Dodd’s ‘noble’ speech. It was the time to speak of ‘blowback’ as Ron Paul had. It was time to speak of Rule Number One; doorcheck your own attitude first (or then correct the subsequent blowback). It was time to speak of this entire governmental anomaly regarding all this authoritarianism. He did not.

    I am not even sure if I trust *him*. The funny thing is, I am even beginning to wonder about Pat Leahy himself, for not speaking up about all this. It feels like his bellicose indignity is the result of chafing beneath some unpeakable constraint. I like the man, and have known his family for 35 years, and believe him a man of intrinsic integrity, yet even now wonder if he hasn’t been largely compromised somehow -to *something*… Patently, something unknown is and has been going on for a long time now. Something unmentionable. But what? And why? Fear of resultant total public outrage, anarchy, and civil disintegration?? Is the news really that bad??

    Seems like it.

    I have been speaking in my own obscure corners for quite a while now about alcohol, psychopathology, genetic predispositions to consciencelessness, military culture, dominator culture, and power and aggression done for their own sake, but I never considered intoxication doesn’t end with alcohol, or that the corruptiveness of power can be found within even the [intoxicating] lust for it. All abstractions, cultural speculative verbiage, all at play. But apparently, something actual and concrete had long been wrought here. This elephant. That no one in power will publicly acknowledge and speak of.

    Yes, there is no more American democracy and hasn’t been for a while. South American and Carribean leaders and Pravda have long spoke of us Imperialists. Yankee Go Home, etc. Pravda is now having a field day. We are that stupid. We are dumber than Winston Smith.

    So how is it we are still able here to electronically speak of these things? They are patient? It really doesn’t matter????

    RFID chips in the RealID cards will be allied with our IPs in their databases. The collusions between the gubmint and MS will reach Intel and the day will then come when a new OS will suddenly be slimmer and more effective as the hardware takes over…

    Hey, I’m a Nielsen family. How dumb is that??

    My mother was french, born in Paris. France is looking better all the time. Canada is awfully damned cold, and maybe not even much different. I speak spanish better than french anyway. I remember being in Colombia in 1969 and feeling the change of being out of the good ol USA. Maybe it’ll be the other way around now -in some other SA country. (I knew Bob Greibling and his family well.) We won’t be able to leave soon, now’s the time to consider it. (Ironically, S.A. is where my french mother went to escape Hitler and so met my father whom was working there…)

    Wait, wait, I know where I wanna go! Amsterdam! Hell yeah! And get me a tricked out houseboat! That’s the ticket, yeah!

    I got an Iranian buddy, Joe. His family just sent his young nephew Arsam off to Kuwait. His sister wants a green card to come here. She is out of her frickin’ gourd to wanna come here. There really isn’t many safe places anywhere any more and whatever there are will increasingly come at a premium.

    There’s a huge elephant in the middle of the room. And Don Quixote rode a donkey. God help us all. Sorry for the length.

  • Governmental control is hardly a new political phenomenon and the respond to it when it occurs is essentially the same: the creation of an underground society that is fully functional. We already have such societies operating quite successfully in the US while we speak, with their own cultures and shadow economies, namely, the crime underground, the drug underground, the tax-resistance movement, the back-to-the-landers, etc. When the government tries to overreach in exerting control, there is always a dialectical opposition created. One result is going to be a huge expansion of the already extant ultra-conservative “freedom-fighters,” who are the close-cousins of the NRA and Second Amendment militias. When things a tipping point is reached, active resistance grows. The US citizenry is the most well-armed nation in the world, largely because of inherent distrust in government stemming from pre-Revolutionary times. It’s in the blood.

  • there won’t be any changes in the way the american system works.
    Two parties that are now nearly the same, is simply just like the one party system in totalitarian countries.
    Democracy is more than the choice between two evils.

  • By Jason Miller
    Published on October 17, 2007

    The Homeland Security Department’s delay in releasing the standards for states to implement the Real ID Act seems to be coming to an end.

    Stewart Baker, DHS’ assistant secretary for policy, today said it was a matter of months before the agency will issue the standards for enhanced driver’s licenses. Congress passed the Real ID Act in May 2005 calling for states to develop tamper-proof driver’s licenses and keep digital images of verification documents by 2008. DHS has since extended the deadline to Dec. 31, 2009.

    DHS officials had hoped to release standards earlier this year, but Baker said they ended up making significant changes and still are figuring out how much money these changes will save states.

    Experts estimate Real ID could cost states about $11 billion to implement, and DHS is not providing much of that funding.

    “We have figured out what we want to do,” he said in a speech during an identity management event sponsored by the Information Technology Association of America in Washington. “Once we figure out how much it will save states, we will send it to the Office of Management and Budget for their approval.”

    Baker added that OMB has 90 days to review it, but he said he thinks they will not take that long to send it back to DHS to release the final rule.

    Baker, who would not offer further information on the new standard, said he would hope it would be out in the next two to three months.

    One source who is familiar with DHS’ work on the standard said the biggest changes will be affect security and time frame.

    The source, who requested anonymity, said DHS likely will leave it to the states to decide how to secure the driver’s license instead of prescribing security requirements.

    The source also said DHS likely will ask states to implement Real ID by around 2013.

    Brendan Peter, senior director of industry affairs at LexisNexis Special Services, said he didn’t think the Real ID standard would converge with the standards for Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12.

    “Each state is unique and has unique requirements,” he said.

    Dan Combs, a former director of digital government for Iowa and the director of the National Emergency Preparedness Coordinating Council, said states are looking at HSPD-12 as a model for Real ID.

    “The federal government needs to look at what it has done and reference back to it,” he said.

    Jeremy Grant, senior vice president for emerging technologies market at Stanford Research Group, added that the new standards likely will be a floor for states instead of a ceiling.

    “If DHS prescribes less stringent requirements than what states are doing to upgrade their systems now will go above and beyond that,” he said.

  • very plainly cogent. yes, yes indeed.

    i suddenly feel absurd spending so much energy on the web.
    i have already have a deep throat stapler.
    i need some ledger sized printer paper. no joke.
    there is indeed much going on unknown of, i know that in terms of even the mail art culture which carried on still after the advent of the web.
    thank you, truly.

  • A lot of this has to do with cultural traditions and expectations based on norms that provide a frame for the universe of discourse. I remember traveling in Europe in the early Sixties and being shocked that anyone could be asked for their papers at anytime. For example, a bunch of us were on the beach at Cannes one evening when the gendarmes did a sweep, asking everyone for their papers. We are on the beach in bathing suits! Of course, no one had papers so they rounded everyone up. They asked me for my papers, which I didn’t have. They then asked my nationality. I said that I was an American. They said, OK, and left me alone, but took everyone else off to the station. Oh, then when I was in Austria, I decided to spent some time in Vienna, where my family is originally from, and I rented a room in a house instead of taking a hotel. The landlady told me that I had to go and register at the police station, since was would be in town more than a week! This was a bit surprising but not all that much, since I knew from my family that this was an old requirement, and I had seen the little black book of my grandfather that was used for this purpose, since he traveled a lot on the job. But after WWII and democratization, I was surprised that this was still in force.

    The other surprising thing was how it seemed strange to me how everyone in Europe thought that begin asked for papers was OK. But when I told them about driver’s licensing and speed limits in the US, they were shocked and wondered how a free people would permit such an indignity.

    I don’t think that a national ID is necessarily the end of the world, anymore than licensing drivers, licensing guns, using SS for other ID purposes (which technically is illegal — don’t get me going on this), and requiring passports for foreign travel. But without regulation and oversight by Congress and the courts to ensure that rights are observed and freedoms protected, it could be the end of democracy. The problem isn’t so much surveillance and ID’s to maintain interior security; rather, its the fact that’s it’s a piece of the unitary executive doctrine that makes these things potentially tyrannical. For example, I’m much more concerned about the erosion of habeas corpus than the introduction of a national ID as a potential violation of fourth amendment rights to privacy. Preventing a national ID is like locking the barn door after the horse has left. Even without a national ID we are already in deep doo-doo.

  • Illegal Immigrants Will Be Allowed to Get a Version, a Move Homeland Security Secretary Criticizes

    AP, October 28

    The Bush administration and New York announced an agreement yesterday to create a generation of super-secure driver’s licenses for U.S. citizens, but also to allow illegal immigrants to get a version.

    New York is the largest state to sign on so far to the government’s post-Sept. 11 effort to make identification cards more secure. The agreement with the Department of Homeland Security will create a three-tiered license system.

    Under the compromise, New York will produce an “enhanced driver’s license” that will be as secure as a passport. It is intended for people who will soon need to meet such ID requirements, even for a short drive to Canada.

    A second version of the license will meet the new federal standards of the Real ID Act. That law was designed to make it much harder for illegal immigrants or would-be terrorists to obtain licenses.

    A third type of license will be available to undocumented immigrants. New York Gov. Eliot L. Spitzer (D) has said that this ID will make the state more secure by bringing those people “out of the shadows” and into American society, and will lower auto insurance rates.

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said he is not happy that New York intends to issue IDs to illegal immigrants. But he said there is nothing he can do to stop it.

    “Vanity, Vanity, all is Vanity.”

  • You state what has been bluntly obvious for years now. At least since the Reagan era. Paul Krugman on his new blog mentioned this fact a little while ago. That truly startling and even horrific government events and actions generate almost no “public” response leaving people with eyes and ears shaking their heads in amazement and despair.

    From my view this again goes back to the total domination of the public dialog by the extreme right. Any mention of programs to help the poor is immediately condemned as “CLASS WARFARE!” Originally it was part of the demonization of the left with phrases like “bleeding heart liberal” policy. Note that there’s no longer a need for the old and almost forgotten “bleeding heart liberal” meme. That one’s been so effective that “liberal” alone generates revulsion. A “Christian valued” approach if there ever was one. Do you think maybe these people would nail a modern day Christ to a cross?

    Just after the events of 9-11 the primary government concern seemed to be directed at protecting the airlines, who by their shoddy security may have borne some responsibility for the effectiveness of the terrorist actions. Bailouts and protections were quickly effected. In contrast, those real people (as compared to the legalized “people” of corporations) who were killed or injured by the 9-11 events could only get help or compensation from the government if they agreed to absolve the airlines of any liability – not sue. The government concern was far more for the corporations than for the people. The virtual people of corporations are the ones getting the government welfare and protections – both legal and policing, just as the virtual “intellectual” property of corporations gets the major focus of government attention.

    The compensation policy for individuals was also very much class based. The families of corporate executives killed in the World Trade Center were provided with lavish compensation supposedly based on their “value” – their earnings and wealth. The dishwashers at Windows on the World, the restaurant at the top of the WTC did not get anything like the same compensation. People have different net worths, even if they were executives of companies that lost millions of dollars under their greatly valued leadership. The lords and serfs. Compare the lack of outrage about this government policy to the outcry over the “death tax.” “Death tax” itself seems an odd meme in that personally I wish the only tax I had to pay was after I was dead.

    Corporations never seem to be held responsible for their actions, even if they’re catastrophic. Contrast that with the attitude towards the poor of New Orleans, who were condemned for not leaving prior to the hurricane, even if they had no place to go, no car to take them and no bus (there weren’t enough provided) to carry them. They were just too stupid and irresponsible to do what was good for them and so their loss should not be a concern.

    Just looking at the current Democrat (sic) party approach to the proposed FISA legislation and the recent payments made to the leadership involved in that legislation by telecoms and related parties makes any thought of American democracy seem like fairytale a fantasy.

    This is the “Christian” “family values” “pro-life” America of today. None of this would be possible if truth had even the slightest chance of getting heard.

  • October 29, 2007
    Real ID That Spitzer Now Embraces Has Been Widely Criticized

    Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s plan to provide three kinds of driver’s licenses, two that would meet new federal security regulations and a third that would be available to illegal immigrants, has put New York on pace to be among the first states to adopt the federal identification program known as Real ID.

    Mr. Spitzer seemed to be ignoring the federal mandate several weeks ago when he announced that illegal immigrants would be allowed to get the same type of license as other state residents.

    The proposal set off intense criticism — a Siena College poll of 620 registered voters found that 72 percent opposed it — even as Mr. Spitzer made clear that he would consider creating a class of driver’s licenses in the future to abide by federal regulations.

    Mr. Spitzer’s new position, announced on Saturday in Washington, places New York among a handful of states agreeing to implement a federal identification system that has faced intense opposition from civil libertarians, immigration advocates and many lawmakers. Concerns focus on privacy protection and the costs to states that implement the Real ID program.

    The program is supposed to be phased in nationally by 2013, but Mr. Spitzer wants to put his plan in place next year.

    “The costs involved in this program are by no means insignificant,” said Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, a libertarian policy group in Washington.

    The Department of Homeland Security puts the price of the program nationally at $23 billion over 10 years, while the National Governors Association estimates that the cost to states will exceed $11 billion in the first five years alone. Still, Congress appropriated just $40 million for start-up costs in 2006, leaving the burden of paying for most of the costs largely to the states.

    “There’s going to be an irreducible expense that falls on you, and that’s part of the shared responsibility,” the secretary of homeland security, Michael Chertoff, said in August at a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

    The Real ID law, which Congress passed two years ago, sets national standards for state-issued documents like driver’s licenses and other identification cards, requiring applicants to prove citizenship or legal residency to obtain them. One of the goals of the legislation was to make identification documents harder to forge.

    Under the program, an estimated 245 million drivers will have to renew their licenses in person and present a form of photo identification and documents proving date of birth, Social Security number and address.

    Proponents of the act say that it responds to recommendations of the 9/11 Commission and that its stricter and standardized rules could keep terrorists and illegal immigrants from obtaining legitimate identification.

    But 17 states have passed laws defying the mandate, while others are considering similar measures.

    One criticism that has been raised is that the personal information will be entered in databases that will be shared by every state, raising questions about how the data will be secured and how safe its storage will be.

    “That’s an identity thief’s dream,” said Christopher Calabrese, counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union’s technology and liberty program.


  • This is like the 60’s, when the USSR wanted ID’s of everyone in their country.
    You could only travel if you had the right ID.
    The US has regressed to that point.
    They fought a against these limits in the name of freedom.
    Now they are supporting these arguments in the name of freedom.
    Freedom has just become another word hidden in the governments agenda.
    The next election will just be a new agenda to keep these powers.
    We are the new Kremlin!
    “Can I see your visa?”

    repressive governments mix administrative clumsiness & inefficiency with authoritarian tendencies.

  • November 14, 2007
    Spitzer Dropping His License Plan

    ALBANY, Nov. 13 — Gov. Eliot Spitzer is abandoning his plan to issue driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants, saying that opposition is just too overwhelming to move forward with such a policy.

    The governor, who is to announce the move formally on Wednesday, said in an interview Tuesday night that he did not reach the decision easily.

    “You have perhaps seen me struggle with it because I thought we had a principled decision, and it’s not necessarily easy to back away from trying to move a debate forward,” he said.

    But he came to believe the proposal would ultimately be blocked, he said, either by legal challenges, a vote by the Legislature to deny financing for the Department of Motor Vehicles or a refusal by upstate county clerks to carry it out.

    “I am not willing to fight to the bitter end on something that will not ultimately be implemented,” the governor said, “and we also have an enormous agenda on other issues of great importance to New York State that was being stymied by the constant and almost singular focus on this issue.”

    Mr. Spitzer’s plan touched off a national debate over whether issuing licenses to illegal immigrants would make the state more secure or improperly extend a privilege to them that should be reserved for legal residents.

    Opposition to the proposal sent his poll numbers plunging and stalled his broader agenda.

    The decision is likely to be a relief to many of his fellow Democrats in Albany and in Washington, who feared the issue could haunt them into next year’s election season.

    In the interview, the governor sounded disappointed but resigned. He acknowledged that he would be criticized for changing course on the issue for the second time in three weeks. (“You think so?” he said facetiously when a reporter suggested as much.)

    “Part of leadership is listening to the public’s opposition,” he said. “Having heard that, and assessed the realities of implementing this policy, part of leadership is realizing that getting results is more important than sticking to what may be a principled position.”

    Mr. Spitzer first unveiled his initiative in September, when he announced that the Department of Motor Vehicles would begin issuing driver’s licenses without regard to immigration status and said he wanted to bring illegal immigrants “out of the shadows.”

    But the proposal, which was formulated with scant consultation with other politicians, set off a backlash far greater than the administration had anticipated.

    So late last month, the governor shifted course and said the state would offer three tiers of licenses: a limited driver’s license that illegal immigrants could obtain, which could not be used for boarding planes or crossing borders; a secure, federally recognized license known as Real ID, which would be available only to legal residents; and an even more secure identification for people who travel across the border to Canada frequently, which would comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

    But the revised plan pleased almost no one.

    On Tuesday night, the governor said the state would make the third tier of license available for frequent border crossers, and continue offering the same driver’s license it offers now, but not extend eligibility for it to illegal immigrants.

    He said the state would put on hold the plan to adopt the Real ID, which has been championed by the Bush administration. The governor said he wanted to wait until federal regulations for Real ID licenses were issued next year before deciding how to proceed.

    Mr. Spitzer’s decision to abandon his plan comes as a poll released Tuesday by Siena College found that seven in 10 New York voters who had heard about it — and more than 80 percent of the 625 registered voters polled had — opposed it. It also found that for the first time, more people viewed the governor unfavorably than favorably.

    The governor and his aides said that they were not reacting to the slumping poll numbers, but acting pragmatically. That the dispute had even tripped up Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who stumbled to answer a question about it in a presidential debate, “was symptomatic of where we were,” he said.

    “The issue was gaining traction not based on thoughtful discourse, but based on sound bites and less than careful analysis,” he added.

    Mr. Spitzer’s latest shift is likely to further complicate his relations with Hispanic lawmakers, who heartily supported his original policy but were upset when he moved to a three-tier system. Some felt that offering a lesser tier of license to illegal immigrants would stigmatize them and attract the suspicions of law enforcement.

    “I stood up on a very tough issue,” the governor said. “I may not have succeeded in implementing the policy they desired, but I didn’t hesitate to stand up when not many have done so.”

    The governor said he hoped the storm would pass and that the state would be able to begin tackling other issues.

    Even before the license plan was unveiled, he and Republican lawmakers were locked in a standoff, some of it over policy but much of it the result of a feud between the governor and Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader.

    Asked how his new position would be received, Mr. Spitzer responded: “The reaction will be what it is.”

  • November 14, 2007, 3:54 pm
    Driver’s Licenses? Real ID Is a Fork in the Road

    By Danny Hakim

    NYT blogs

    There seems to be mixed messages on the future of Real ID in New York. In an interview from London, Michael Chertoff, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said that he had spoken to Gov. Eliot Spitzer this morning and had been given no indication that New York would back off from a plan announced three weeks ago to offer new federally recognized licenses known as Real ID by next year.

    “All I can tell you is I spoke to him today,” Mr. Chertoff said of Governor Spitzer. “He has not said anything to me altering his prior agreement or prior commitment. The details are in writing and we can send them to you. Obviously, the specific details of implementation do have to wait for the regulation, but the commitment to move forward and implement this is spelled out.”

    On Tuesday night, however, the governor told The Times that, in addition to abandoning his plan to offer licenses to illegal immigrants, he would take a “wait-and-see” approach on his previously stated plan to offer Real ID licenses, which has been a priority of the Bush administration.

    In future years, only licenses that meet Real ID requirements can be used to board planes or enter federal buildings.

    “We have to wait for the regulations to come out,” the governor said.

    Today, Mr. Spitzer’s staff appeared to be moving to making a case against Real ID.

    “How can it be a nationally secure driver’s license if only 10 states are going to it? In which case, it would make the entire debate academic,” Michael A. L. Balboni, the governor’s top domestic security aide, said in Washington this morning. “The federal government has a tremendous amount of work to do to convince the nation that Real ID was truly the way to secure this nation’s air travel.”

    Mr. Chertoff and Mr. Spitzer signed a Memorandum of Agreement late last month outlining their license plan, but it has an out clause that says “either party may terminate this M.O.A. upon the giving of written notice 30 calendar days in advance of the termination.”

    “I have not heard the governor back away from the agreement and I have no reason to believe the governor is backing away from the agreement,” Mr. Chertoff said. He also said he was pleased the governor would not allow illegal immigrants to apply for licenses.

Leave a Reply