Some States Balk At Real ID

Michael Cutler is incredulous that so many state governors are challenging the Real ID Act.

It is impossible for me to understand how anyone who is concerned about the security of our nation in this perilous age would oppose the implementation of the Real ID Act. The seven years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the three years since the passage of the Real ID Act are more than adequate time for our leaders to provide our nation with true security. The Real ID Act represents an important component of such an effort and should not be repealed.

While there’s some controversy over privacy and some question over the efficacy of the Act’s requirements in preventing would-be terrorists from obtaining identification, those are not the impetus of the opposition Cutler cites. Rather, governors of three states (out of 50!) and a few senators are saying that the Act’s requirements are too expensive and that the feds should pay for it. That, frankly, strikes me as reasonable.

The privacy argument is mostly an opportunistic figleaf:

“I think what Mainers are concerned about is their privacy. You just had the high profile incident at the State Department with people peeking into presidential candidates’ passport records. And this is what I’ve heard right down the line, is that you’re going to have the ability of some unknown official, in an unknown place for an unknown reason looking at your records,” [Maine Secretary of State Matt] Dunlap said.

It’s also pretty silly. If Maine’s Department of Motor Vehicles has managed to avoid hiring yahoos, they should definitely share their secrets.

FILED UNDER: Bureaucracy, Congress, Terrorism, , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. bob says:

    Cutler is beyond being biased on this, and most people who think they know what REAL ID is all about have never read the final rules. REAL ID permanently puts the federal government in charge of both what the card will be required for and what technology it uses. These so called final rules are not a one time thing, and the final rules point out many times how DHS reserves the right to change things in the future without going back to Congress, or the States. REAL ID hijacks the 911 report and uses it for a powergrab instead of trying to create sensible new rules. Despite what Chertoff contends, it is the architecture of a national ID card. Do we need one? Maybe. But lets have that real debate, rather than just taking over states licenses and trying to pretend that nothing funny is going on. If REAL ID is not changed in some substantial way, it will require RFID, more biometrics, and be necessary for more things in the very near future.

  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    The seven years since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the three years since the passage of the Real ID Act are more than adequate time for our leaders to provide our nation with true security.

    Would the Real ID Act have prevented Mohammed Atta et al from boarding the planes on 9-11?

  3. Jeffrey W. Baker says:

    Of course not. It’s security theater. All of the 9/11 guys had valid papers and a number of them were already on FBI watch lists. The problem was that the govt had their thumbs up their butts. Different styles of ID would have done nothing to prevent that attack.

  4. legion says:

    Your headline is misleading, James; a boatload of states are balking at Real ID. You are correct though about the reasons. Privacy, while a real concern given the Keystone Kops-emulating executive branch we’re currently cursed with, the real problem is the monumental unfunded mandate it puts to the states. For example, in South Carolina (one of the most vocally-defiant states right now), a driver’s license that currently costs citizens $10 and is good for 10 years will have to be jacked up to costing $60 and only be good for 8 years.

  5. Jackie says:

    Thankfully Washington State is one of several states resisting. If the Federal gov is going to insist on Real ID, then they can pay for it.

  6. Diane C. Russell says:

    When the moonbats take over, Real-ID will make it real easy for them to round up all of the crazy subversives who believe in liberty and think the government should serve the people rather that the people being slaves of the government.

    I just don’t understand all the so-called conservatives who want to give our government more tools of identifying and oppressing than Hitler and Stalin had.

    And why are we claiming to fight terrorism? Real-ID is just another example of how we are turning ourselves into the kind of society the terrorists want.