The Battle of the States - Part 2

April 13, 2009

Editor's Note: This is a continuation of the article that appeared in last week's Conservative Truth.

The final piece of the puzzle is the third tier of legislation making rounds in several state legislatures that would prohibit state governments from collecting biometric samples/data and social security numbers of citizens who apply for driver's licenses. In direct opposition to bills such as SB 483, Oklahoma is considering such legislation which calls for the removal of existing biometric information and social security numbers from the state motor vehicle database. Such legislation is intended to protect our personal privacy.

Under the provisions of the Real ID Act of 2005, states that comply with that law are required to collect the digital facial biometric samples of all citizens who apply for a state driver's license. In layman's terms, this means you can be identified while walking down the street by a CCTV/surveillance camera. Your facial image would be scanned and the image would be converted to biometric data and compared to images stored in state or federal databases, including your motor vehicle database.

Again, in Oklahoma, some lawmakers have figured out the only way to stop the federal government and international organizations from getting their hands on citizens' personal information is to stop collecting the information and putting it in state databases.

It is important to note that the legislation does not impede Oklahoma law enforcement from collecting the information either through a search warrant or as a result of a person being charged with a crime. One lawmaker stated it should not be a "novel" idea that the presumption of innocence is protected or that privacy means something. A Pennsylvania lawmaker stated that we have been told many times since 9/11/2001 what privacy does not mean but we do not hear what it does mean.

Abuse of power by the federal government is and has always been a concern. Our forefathers addressed the potential for abuse in our Constitution. Since the 1950's we have witnessed many abuses of power including revelations about what the FBI, NSA and DHS have been doing since 9/11/2001, invading personal privacy, monitoring phone calls, home invasion without notice or warrants, etc.

The abuses have become a pattern of complete disregard for our Constitution. Russell Tice, a former NSA analyst who previously worked for Naval Intelligence and the Department of Defense came forward and stated American citizens were having their phone calls intercepted, emails read and financial transactions monitored. He came forward because he said he did not want to live in a police state.

The Inspector General of the Justice Department stated the FBI had abused National Security Letters and obtained information improperly. The Inspector further stated the FBI was not forthright in disclosing all the National Security Letters it had issued. In one three year period alone, the FBI was issuing an average of over 100 of the letters a day. National Security Letters, by their very nature, avoid the need for search warrants. Some in the U.S. Senate have accused DHS of "bullying" states to comply with the Real ID Act 2005. DHS has been asked to adhere to what is known as FIPP (Fair Information Practice Principles) and yet has failed to do so. FIPP requires, among other things, that there be transparency when information is being collected.

Our driver's licenses are the link between everything we buy and sell. You need a driver's license for just about everything these days. The vendor who produces 95% of all drivers' licenses has proposed a Real ID Solutions driver's license in which a citizens "political party affiliation" would be on the face of the driver's license. The same vendor, who happens to be the largest biometric company, made their biometric facial recognition technology available to the Red Chinese government. The Communist Chinese did exactly what one would expect from a totalitarian state. They used the technology to identify dissidents -- people who were opposed to the policies of the government. Does that sound like the Missouri situation?

Most Americans have never heard of Enhanced Driver's Licenses. These licenses contain RFID chips that can allow for the tracking of people and also for "bad" guys to obtain your personal information by stealing your unique identification number contained on the chip and linking that number to your identity. The current Secretary of Homeland Security is on record saying she believes that Enhanced Driver's Licenses should be issued by all states.

Consider DHS's pilot program that relies on a computer software program to help determine if you present a threat to our government. This pilot computer program, called "Project Hostile Intent," makes assessments about the way we walk and dress, as well as other behavioral characteristics. The computer program will make a judgment as to whether or not you present a threat. That means when you are walking down the street keep in mind that a camera lens could be pointed at you. Make sure you are dressed "right" and do not walk in a funny manner. What are the chances of you, or someone you care about, being picked out by the camera? Considering the hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars that DHS has released for CCTV/surveillance cameras, the chances are getting better everyday that you won't be left out. Cameras are going up so fast that they remind me of the postal mailboxes that used to be placed on about every block. The cameras are everywhere.

America is at a crossroads. States have finally awakened to rediscover their Constitutional powers in the Tenth Amendment, yet as they do so, they are also being pressured to surrender the liberty and privacy of every American in the name of security. Americans are concerned, listening, and are ready to take action. State lawmakers are also ready to listen. All citizens have to do is take a few minutes of their time to contact their state and national lawmakers and say enough is enough.

Terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and other groups such as Hamas have trained thousands of terrorists. Our intelligence community only knows the names of a very small percentage of these people. The fact is that terrorists do not need driver's licenses to carry out acts of terrorism. They can use passports and international driver's licenses while in our country to facilitate their goals. Criminalizing all Americans into a surveillance state is not the answer.

Legislation to protect us from the surveillance state is being considered in state legislatures across the country. Many states are rising up against implementation of Real ID. Others are passing resolutions to take a stand for state sovereignty. But others are going in the opposite direction with legislation to allow massive databanks of our most personal information to be shared internationally.

In Oklahoma there is still time. The same is true in other states. Oklahoma residents should call their elected leaders in the state's House of Representatives and say they oppose SB 483.

Every American should now call their state representatives and tell them to support Tenth Amendment legislation and any bills that would end the orgy of collecting and sharing of information, starting with citizens' biometric information and social security numbers.

These new efforts to create a surveillance society represent a threat to almost everything guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, from freedom of speech to freedom to be secure in our homes, to the freedom of being innocent until proven guilty. The time to stop it is now.

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