Eroding Our Liberties By The Numbers
December 17, 2001
In a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, almost 3 of 4 people said they support government eavesdropping on telephone conversations between terrorist suspects and their lawyers. For the first time, there is also strong support for secret tribunals for terrorist suspects and more government wiretapping. On the specific question of a a national ID card, about 70 percent of those recently polled by the Pew Research Center said they favor a system that would require people to show a card to authorities who request it.

Logistical problems and the potentially enormous costs make it unlikely that a mandatory, national ID system could soon be adopted. In recent testimony before Congress, former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson, a supporter of more secure identification methods, warned against using the phrase "national ID" at all because of the political sensitivities. But a range of steps now underway could lead to a de facto national ID system that could accomplish many of the same goals. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, for example, a group of state officials, is devising a plan to create a national identification system that would link all driver databases to high-tech driver's license cards with computer chips, bar codes and biometric identifiers. Technology specialists at the Justice Department and General Services Administration have acknowledged they are working with motor vehicle officials and commercial vendors to develop a standard for some sort of ID system, mandatory or not. The Air Transport Association, meanwhile, has called for the creation of a voluntary travel card for passengers that would include a biometric identifier. They proposed linking the card to a system of government databases that would include criminal, intelligence and financial records. Passengers who agree to use the card would have easier access to airplanes. (Washington Post)

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