tyler butler

What Have You Done for Your Country Lately?

I hate a lot of things. There’s a lot of things that really bug me; that really get under my skin. But the one thing I am absolutely sick and tired of hearing about is Senators and Congressman tacking little provisions onto other relatively benign bills in order to get them passed. This really pisses me off, because it’s blatently dishonest!

The latest example of this is the Real ID Act, written by one Congressman F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R), of Wisconsin. This act would mandate national ID cards for all citizens that are machine readable, with a lot of personal information going into some big government controlled database. It’s being tacked onto a bill giving our troops in Iraq further governmental financial support. Now, what does a national ID card system have to do with passing funding requests for our troops in Iraq? Nothing!

This is being voted on tomorrow. Here’s an email from my good friend Patrick Wagstrom with a little more information about it.


So as part of the “emergency” funding bill for the troops, Sen Stensenbrenner of Wisconsin got the Real ID bill attached, and it passed the house. The senate votes on it this Tuesday (TOMORROW), and Bush will certainly sign the bill if nothing happens.

Here’s a brief overview of what’s going on:

Real ID basically mandates a national ID card. It requires that all state drivers licenses have a uniform set of data, including biometric data and that it be readable by a smart card and 2d barcode reader. In addition, this information will be forwarded to a federal government database of individuals.

What’s so bad about all this? After all, we don’t have any privacy left anyway. Well, the issue is that your information in this centralized database becomes a requisite for all sorts of things, bank accounts, plane tickets, social security, etc. Furthermore, it’s a centralized clearing house for the the government to spy/black list it’s citizens. This could very realistically turn into a massive new form of the no-fly list where individuals will not know why they’ve been flagged. We could have thousands of second class citizens who have no hopes of a better life because they fit a profile. What’s worse, it could happen to you (nothing like fear mongering to make a point).

The bill has lots of other nasty provisions that do things like take away habeus corpus for non-citizens and SUSPECTED terrorists (technically leeching someone’s wifi access is terrorism as it’s unauthorized computer access which is classified as computer terrorism). The fact that this was attached to a spending authorization for the troops is horrible and it MUST be stopped. Call your senators and let them know that you don’t support this sort of piggybacking and that the government needs to allow open and public debate on this issue. It’s too important to be piggybacked and rammed through in this method.


I want to reiterate that this is being voted on tomorrow! This means that if you want to speakup you need to do so now. There’s a website that you can use to contact your seantor(s). http://www.UnRealID.com. [Note: The site seems to be having problems right now. I tried to submit my fax but I got an error. If it doesn’t come back up, you might have to call your Senator.] Please take the time to speak up about this if you’re even half as irate as I am. At the very least, even if you would support the Real ID Act, at least tell your Senator(s) that they should read a bill before passing it, just to make sure shenanigans like this don’t happen.

Oh, and if you’re interested, here’s what I wrote to the Washington State Senators.

Good morning Senators Murray and Cantwell,

I am writing to voice my opposition of the Real ID Act, which is being voted on by the Senate on Tuesday, May 10. First of all, I feel that this Act is the first step leading to a national ID card system, not unlike that of Soviet Russia, communist China, and Vietnam. Frankly, if I wanted to live in China, I would move there. I would like to think that here in the US we support our citizens’ right to privacy.

Second of all, because these cards would be the same throughout all 50 states, and be machine readable, there is nothing preventing companies and individuals from the private sector from reading the data on these cards and selling citizens’ personal information to the highest bidder.

Thirdly, there is no proof that ID documents help prevent or deter terrorism. An ID document says nothing about evil intent. Forcing our citizens to document themselves is NOT a deterrant to terrorism; rather, it is a VICTORY for terrorists!

Finally, and most importantly, this Act has been tacked on to another bill, and has not been discussed or debated on the Senate floor. I believe that as Senators, it is your responsibility to read and understand all bills before you, and make an informed decision. The fact that the Real ID Act is piggybacking on another bill seems to imply that the author did not feel it could pass on its own merits. Please read and understand the Real ID Act in its entirety, and consider the ramifications of passing this bill.

Tyler W. Butler