What Federal Officials Have Said About National IDs

Something like a national ID card doesn't happen in a vacuum. This idea has been around for a while. Other countries have used them (ie, Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union) and there is a big push by various bureaucratic forces to implement them more and more across the world.

The REAL ID Act itself was never debated or got any hearings prior to it finally passing by getting slipped into a military spending bill. That sort of legislative sleight of hand is not how we do things in New Hampshire, and should not be how we do things in Congress.

Homeland Security is in charge of setting the standards, rather than the Department of Transportation? Why is that the case if it is merely to make a more secure driver's license?

Even worse, Homeland Security even after 2004 was clearly never supposed to get this power, so they ignored existing legislation to do this.

When it created the Department of Homeland Security, Congress made clear in the enabling legislation that the agency could not create a national ID system. In September 2004, then-DHS Secretary Tom Ridge reiterated, "[t]he legislation that created the Department of Homeland Security was very specific on the question of a national ID card. They said there will be no national ID card."

Commissions reject SSNs, National Identifiers

Americans have rejected the idea of a national ID card. When the Social Security Number (SSN) was created in 1936, it was meant to be used only as an account number associated with the administration of the Social Security system. Though use of the SSN has expanded considerably, it is not a universal identifier and efforts to make it one have been consistently rejected.

In 1971, the Social Security Administration task force on the SSN rejected the extension of the Social Security Number to the status of an ID card.

In 1973, the Health, Education and Welfare Secretary's Advisory Committee on Automated Personal Data Systems concluded that a national identifier was not desirable.

In 1976, the Federal Advisory Committee on False Identification rejected the idea of an identifier.

In 1977, the Carter Administration reiterated that the SSN was not to become an identifier.

In 1981 the Reagan Administration stated that it was "explicitly opposed" to the creation of a national ID card.

The Clinton administration advocated a "Health Security Card" in 1993 and assured the public that the card, issued to every American, would have "full protection for privacy and confidentiality." Still, the idea was rejected and the health security card was never created.

In 1999 Congress repealed a controversial provision in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 which gave authorization to include Social Security Numbers on driver's licenses.

Post 9/11

In response to the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, there has been renewed interest in the creation of national ID cards. Soon after the attacks, Larry Ellison, head of Oracle Corporation, called for the development of a national identification system and offered to donate the technology to make this possible. (Larry failed to mention that he used to work for the CIA). He proposed ID cards with embedded digitized thumbprints and photographs of all legal residents in the U.S. There was much public debate about the issue, and Congressional hearings were held. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich testified that he "would not institute a national ID card because you do get into civil liberties issues."