Sign Up for
Google Alerts!

content headlines
sent out every day
email us to sign up





Latest Column:
Stopping the Meltdown
What Beltway Republicans Need To Do

opinon in
Reagan country



Jon Fleischman’s
The premier source for
California political news


Michael Ramirez
editorial cartoon


Do your part to do right by our troops.
They did the right thing for you.
Donate Today




tOR Talk Radio
Contributor Sites
Laura Ingraham

Hugh Hewitt
Eric Hogue
Sharon Hughes
Frank Pastore
[Radio Home]




J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

The Driver’s License: America’s ID Card

[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 1/4/05

Like legions of other active, reserve and retired members of the armed forces and their spouses, I carry a military identification card. My wife and I have carried one for over half a century. We’ve never found it a problem or a threat to our privacy. Personally, I’m proud to show it when asked for identification. The federally issued military ID card has always been the identity document of choice as far as I’m concerned. It’s accepted everywhere. I wouldn’t leave home without it.

I may be somehow lacking in the appropriate degree of sensitivity, but I’m having big trouble understanding why so many people are opposed to a national ID card, especially given the widely assumed terrorism threat and the fact that we don’t really know how many people are in this country illegally, or where they are and how many of them are bad guys. A tamper proof, smart identity card could quickly and conveniently resolve most questions regarding the identity of the legal owner and his or her right to be in the country. Of course, I fully understand the reservations that illegal aliens and their advocates might have regarding such an idea.

Those opposed to a national ID card usually argue that the national database it would access would provide “Big Brother” with too much information on people, notwithstanding the reality that such information is already available from various sources. Many who raise such objections seem to have no problem with providing even more sensitive personal information to credit card issuers.

In this country, the driver’s license has become the de facto national ID card. It is used to establish identity when boarding commercial aircraft, making credit card purchases and many other transactions in our daily lives in addition to establishing the owner’s authority to operate motor vehicles in accordance with the laws of the issuing state. Trouble is, the driver’s license has many shortcomings as a national ID card because licenses are issued, not by the federal government, but by the individual fifty states, not to mention Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, whose standards, laws and requirements differ widely. This in itself I find remarkable since the contiguous states are closely linked by an interstate highway system and a license issued by any of them allows one to drive in all of them.

The state driver’s license could become a far more effective national ID card by having certain features standardized and through the establishment of mandatory federal guidelines for states to follow in issuing licenses. The recently enacted intelligence reform bill, in fact, directs the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Transportation to develop common standards for driver’s licenses in recognition of the fact that that they are used to establish identity. The intent, of course, is to help prevent them from being obtained fraudulently by individuals who are not in the country legally and who might just be up to no good. What a sensible idea! A number of the suicide terrorists who hijacked four commercial airliners on 9/11 used fraudulently obtained driver’s licenses to board the aircraft. Lax state requirements for issuing these licenses thus facilitated the worst terrorist attack on America in its history.

Because of its widespread acceptance as a so-called gateway document, the driver’s license is probably the most important document that American citizens carry on their persons. No wonder it is coveted by non-citizens as well, including terrorists and others who intend to commit illegal acts or who have already committed an illegal act just by sneaking into the country. Given its critical importance, then, as an identification document, it is incredible to me that some legislators in California and the illegal immigration advocacy groups they are pandering to are pushing for a bill to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. An argument used to support this wacky idea is that the illegal migrants are going to drive anyway. With licenses, they will be able to purchase insurance and we’ll all be safer. Yeah, right. Terrorists are going to drive anyway, also, so let them have licenses, too. Perhaps they’ll buy insurance.

Even more incredible is the possibility that Gov. Schwarzenegger might sign such a bill if it contained security provisions that were satisfactory to him. Presumably, these would involve some marking on the license that would identify the holder as an illegal migrant. This requirement, of course, is not favored in the illegal alien community and so the legislation isn’t given much hope for passage at this point. It is, nevertheless, insulting to voters who propelled him to the governorship largely as a reaction to former Gov. Davis’s support of such a bill, that he would consider even a revised version of it.

There is an urgent need to establish federal guidelines for state driver’s licenses that include the requirement for establishing proof of citizenship and that will permit access to a reliable database for purposes of establishing identity. The need for this is driven by security concerns identified in the intelligence reform legislation and it transcends privacy concerns that should trouble no law-abiding citizen. States that resist prompt implementation of the federal standards should be denied federal transportation funds until they do. tOR

copyright 2005 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



Blue Collar -  120x90
120x90 Jan 06 Brand
Free Trial Static 02
ActionGear 120*60
Free Trial Static 01
Applicable copyrights indicated. All other material copyright 2003-2005