8. Little Known Federal Law Paves The Way for National Identification Card

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Source: WITWIGO, Title: “National ID Card is Now Federal Law and Georgia Wants to Help Lead the Way,” Date: May/June 1997, Author: Cyndee Parker; Mainstream media coverage: The New York Times, September 8, 1996, section 6; page 58, column 1; related article in The San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 1996, page A1

SSU Censored Researchers: Bryan Way, Erika Nell, and Matt Monpas
SSU Faculty Evaluator. Peter Phillips, Ph.D.

In September 1996, President Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1996. Buried on approximately page 650 was a section that creates a framework for establishing a national ID card for the American public. This legislation was slipped through without fanfare or publicity.

This law has various aspects: It establishes a “Machine Readable Document Pilot Program” requiring employers to swipe a prospective employee’s driver’s license through a special reader linked to the federal government’s Social Security Administration. The federal government would have the discretion to approve or disapprove the applicant for employment. In this case, the driver’s license becomes a “national ID card.”

According to author Cyndee Parker, “For the first time in American history, and reminiscent of Communist countries, our government would have the ability to grant approval before a private company enters into private employment contracts with private citizens. Because of the nature of the employment system alone, personal information would be accessible to local agencies and anyone who even claims to be an employer. The government would have comprehensive files on all American citizens’ names, dates and places of birth, mothers’ maiden names, Social Security numbers, gender, race, driving records, child support payments, divorce status, hair and eye color, height, weight, and anything else they may dream up in the future.”

Another part of the law provides $5 million-per-year grants to any state that wants to participate in any one of three pilot ID programs. One of these programs is the “Criminal Alien Identification Program,” which is to be used by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies to record fingerprints of aliens previously arrested. A third part of this law provides that federal agencies may only accept driver’s licenses that conform to new requirements—meaning only licenses which contain digital fingerprints.

The author of the national ID law, Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), stated in a Capitol Hill magazine that it was her intention to see Congress immediately implement a national ID system whereby every American would be required to carry a card with a “magnetic strip on it on which the bearer’s unique voice, retina pattern, or fingerprint is digitally encoded.” Congressman Dick Armey (R-TX), among others, has strongly denounced the new law, calling it “an abomination, and wholly at odds with the American tradition of individual freedom.”

Shortly before the bill was signed into law, Georgia passed its own legislation, creating something similar to the federal ID program. The Georgia law requires residents to give digital fingerprints before obtaining a driver’s license or state ID. This law was approved by the state legislature in April 1996 and received virtually no public or media attention at that time. Since passage, many Georgia lawmakers have tried repealing the law. Eight repeal bills were drafted in the Georgia Assembly and one in the Senate. However, all of the bills were blocked in the Senate and never voted on.

UPDATE BY AUTHOR WHOSE PARKER: “A handful of Georgians began to fight for the abolition of the fingerprints law in Georgia. Those few Georgians have now turned into a vast array of people from all 50 states, known as the Coalition to Repeal the Fingerprints Law. Our research has culminated with the knowledge that not only are Georgians required to give fingerprints in order to obtain a driver’s license, but also that this is, in fact, a back door approach to not only a national ID card, but a universal ID card, all being pushed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA). The AAMVA, in a recent industry article entitled ‘MOVE,’ states that they must ‘sell the public’ on the idea that ‘Biometric Authentication and Identification Technology’ (BAIT) will help prevent ‘identity fraud.’ The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in their publication The Highway Safety Desk Book, similarly describes the idea: ‘With a central image database of every driver in a state, the public safety community has a ready-made storehouse of photos to be used in criminal investigations. The uses for these images are limited only by the wants and needs of the public safety community.’

“We know that our new national ID card is being brought into existence through the use of driver’s licensing mandates being advanced in all 50 states. Throughout the last two years, we have found that Australia, Thailand, Mexico, Canada, and many other countries all introduced similar measures for biometric identification of its citizens, including digitized fingerprints. Communist China is also one of those countries that has initiated the same form of identifying its citizens. The company that provided the Chinese equipment also was under contract to provide the new equipment for the state of Alabama.

“Thanks to much hard work by everyone in the Coalition to Repeal the Fingerprints Law, we attended a press conference in Alabama in the summer of 1997 and helped the governor of that state come to the decision to remove the equipment. That was one of our biggest successes of 1997. Stopping legislation in Washington State and Utah were other successes. In Georgia, we had a major victory last session when we saw the Senate twice vote to remove the fingerprints law-in votes of 45-7 and 49-5. At the present time, this is the most significant campaign issue for the 1998 Governor and Lt. Governor’s races in Georgia.

“Though the press in the Atlanta area has given very good coverage on the driver’s license/fingerprint issue, most press in Georgia and other states refuse to reveal the national mandates brought about by Congress or the internationally documented race for a ‘Universal Biometrics Card.’ Information has been shared with the press, but has been almost totally ignored in the mainstream media.

“Unless ‘We the People’ quit acting like ‘We the Sheep,’ Americans will lose every bit of freedom our founding fathers fought and died for.”