Reboot the Rhetoric
Since Jim Harper at CATO continues to blatantly mischaracterize CDT's position on the PASS ID bill. Let me state it as clearly as I have to him in email: PASS ID would create a driver's license system that has no greater impact on privacy than the system that existed before REAL ID and is better than what would exist if REAL ID isn't amended; PASS ID also adds protections on the commercial use of the card. Before REAL ID, the state driver's license was being used as a default national ID card that had standards set national by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. The National Academy of Sciences made this point clear in their excellent report "Who Goes There," writing: State-issued driver's licenses are a de facto nationwide identity system." CDT agrees with this analysis (thus we are not the only ones who believe this). AAMVA's standards, under development by every state and jurisdiction, are no different than the minimum standards for issuance set forth in PASS ID. Therefore, any difference is completely semantic. This does not mean that CDT supports a National ID as Harper once suggested. CDT is opposed to a National ID. Despite the fact that there are no federal politicians, no governors and no appointed officials from any party publicly supporting repeal of REAL ID today, CDT still says that repeal is an acceptable option. However, PASS ID would get to the same outcome, or better, in practice and has the added benefit of actually being a political possibility. CDT believes that defending the privacy provisions in PASS ID is paramount for everyone that cares about privacy. Why do you think it is that Harper's biggest ally in his fight against PASS ID is the great REAL ID champion Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner? If the biggest threat to the vision of REAL ID were from states not implementing, don't you think that Sensenbrenner would be targeting those governors rather than Senator Akaka, the author of PASS ID? Instead, Sensenbrenner uses the big stick of the Washington Post Op-Ed page to make his case against PASS ID, saying: "The Pass ID Act would not fine-tune Real ID; it would neutralize" REAL ID. I realize that Harper has invested a lot of time fighting for the word "repeal," but at some point we have to look at the political reality. As CDT has said clearly in a previous post, this is not worth a battle over the word "repeal" when PASS ID would get to exactly the same, if not better place. Instead, let's start spending more time addressing the troubling proposal for a National ID from Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).