New Hampshire can stop the coming federal police state
THE NEW HAMPSHIRE Senate will soon vote on what might be the most important bill to protect our freedoms in many years. House Bill 1582, which the House overwhelmingly passed last month, would preclude New Hampshire from participating in the REAL ID Act, a federal law passed last year establishing a de facto national ID card.
The REAL ID Act was passed by Congress in 2005 as a part of a "must-pass" military appropriations bill, though it had nothing whatsoever to do with the military. It requires that all states comply with certain federal requirements in the creation of driver's licenses, and would likely include a microchip containing information such as a digital photo, Social Security number and digital biometric information like the fingerprint or retinal scan of the license holder. It would force the repeal of several important privacy protections currently in New Hampshire law.
If a state doesn't comply with REAL ID, its residents risk being forced to purchase passports just to drive in other states or enter federal facilities. Thus, it reveals itself to be a Soviet-style internal passport.
History has shown that national identification systems are one of the critical pieces of infrastructure needed to foist complete tyranny upon a nation. They are used as the basis for tracking movements, purchases and monitoring activities.
Most Americans have heard of the "no fly" list designed to keep terrorists off of commercial flights. However, most Americans are completely unaware of another list, the "no buy" list, similarly established to prevent terrorists from doing business with any U.S. citizen. The law effectively mandates that every individual involved in any business transaction be checked against the list, called the "Specially Designated Nationals" or SDN, which is published by the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
It applies to every purchase, from banking services and automobiles to candy bars at your local convenience store. Failure to comply with this law is a felony. Never heard of it? Most people haven't, including most business owners, and few businesses comply with it today. The federal government doesn't enforce it except on certain big-ticket purchases and on banking services, because even they realize it is impossible to enforce in most situations.
REAL ID would likely change all that. With a quick swipe of a customer's REAL ID card, merchants would be able to check the customer against the federal "no buy" list. Meanwhile, the record of the transaction could be recorded in the REAL ID database and noted by federal law enforcement. It's only a short leap from there to having the federal government record every item and service purchased by every American. Think it will only be used against terrorists? Think again. Powers granted to law enforcement under the Patriot Act, which Americans were assured would only be used against terrorists, are increasingly used to circumvent constitutional protections in common criminal investigations.
Complying with the "no buy" list or future versions of it will effectively require that every person present their REAL ID for every purchase. Conceivably, REAL ID could be used to prevent citizens from buying or selling anything without presenting their card. The tyrannical regimes of Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, and Bathist Iraq could only have dreamt of such a capability.
Harder to believe still is that this scheme is being cooked up right here in America, and the people of the "Live free or die" state have been cynically targeted as the first guinea pigs for this technology.
The New Hampshire Senate has an opportunity to stop this Orwellian law from taking effect by passing House Bill 1582. Keeping New Hampshire out of this national ID scheme would send Congress a clear message: there will be no police state in New Hampshire.
Karl Beisel of Manchester is on the board of directors of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance.