National ID card won't stop terrorists, but will infringe on Americans' liberty

The following is a Libertarian Party press release:

October 13, 2001

WASHINGTON, DC – Politicians who want to force everyone to carry a national ID card – and misguided Americans who agree with them – are making a mistake that they will regret long after the terrorist threat subsides, Libertarians say.

"Even in a time of turmoil, here are three words that no American should ever hear: ‘Your papers, please!’ " said Steve Dasbach, national director of the Libertarian Party. “Our victory over terrorism will be cheapened if we make America less of a free country in the process.”

Over the past several weeks, a number of House and Senate lawmakers have hinted that they are open to the idea of a mandatory national ID card, perhaps with “biometric identifiers” like a fingerprint.

Polls show that a significant number of Americans agree: A Pew Research Center poll released September 19 found that 70% favored a requirement that citizens carry a national ID card at all times.

“Although these poll numbers are probably inflated because of the September 11 attacks, it does appear that many Americans equate bigger government with more safety,” said Dasbach. “But there’s considerable evidence that a national ID card would do nothing to combat terrorism, while giving the government extraordinary new power.”

Here are three good reasons why all Americans should oppose a mandatory national ID card, Libertarians say:

  • It won’t work. “Of the 19 hijackers who have been identified in the September 11 attacks, all but six were in the country legally,” said Dasbach. "That means they could have shown a valid national ID card before boarding – and then proceeded to commandeer four planes and slaughter 5,000 innocent people.

"And terrorists who come into the country illegally will be able to get national ID cards as well – either by forging documents, stealing someone else’s identity, or bribing public officials.

“As a recent USA Today article on ‘Do-It-Yourself’ forgery found, teenagers using new digital technology make fake IDs that are good enough to ‘astonish authorities’ and even fool police officers. Does any sensible American believe that a terrorist organization with a $200 million budget can send dozens of people to flight school, hijack four jetliners simultaneously, and terrorize a nation – yet be unable to create fake IDs?” asked Dasbach.

“In the end, the only people who will be inconvenienced by such cards are law-abiding Americans. You’re the one who won’t be able to board a plane, write a check, or even enter a movie theater if you forget your ID card – while terrorists and other criminals blithely circumvent that law, just as they do every other law.”

  • It’s un-American. “In Nazi Germany, citizens had to produce a compulsory ID on demand, or face arrest, and the Taliban government in Afghanistan forces non-Moslems to wear an identifying mark on their clothes,” said Dasbach.

“Other countries that have mandatory ID cards include Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and many socialist European nations. Do we really want to become the kind of country where Americans are forced to produce internal passports to police officers?”

  • It will give the government more power to track, monitor, and catalog law-abiding citizens – permanently.

“One of the most basic civil rights is the right to be left alone if you’re doing nothing wrong,” said Dasbach. “Once the police have the power to compel you to produce an ID card, that right will be lost.”

Unfortunately, at a time when Americans are vulnerable to terrorists, they’re also most vulnerable to politicians who want to pass laws that we’ll all regret later, said Dasbach.

“And that’s why Americans must stand up and say no to a national ID card,” he said. “It’s time to let everyone know that we will never surrender – either to terrorists or to the misguided politicians who insist that Americans need to give up freedom in order to preserve it.”

I suppose it’s no surprise that I agree with this although, contrary to what you might think, I do not agree with everything the LP puts out. I’m curious to hear arguments that support national ID cards and refute the arguments made in the OP. What will stop a terrorist from stealing someone’s identity? What will stop forgeries of these cards? How can freedom be preserved by eliminating it?

I agree that National ID cards would not stop terrorists. ID is already required to board planes or for any number of day-to-day activities.

I don’t think it’s particularly a method of “restricting our liberties” either - you are required to show ID to obtain a job, to get a drivers’ licence, to attend University, etc., so I imagine most adults in the country already have a form of identification and are asked to show it for any number of occasions.

I just thought this was particularly amusing:

First of all, how will issuing a national ID card suddenly give police the right to compel anyone they see to produce that ID card? I own a drivers’ licence, but that does not mean that a policeman can walk up to me as I’m walking down the street minding my own business and suddenly demand to see it - why would it be any different with this card?

Secondly, any time a policeman suspects you of doing something illegal it is his duty to detain you/pull you over and then find/ask for your identification. The police already have the power to compel you to produce an ID card if you are engaged in illegal activity. This has not caused a massive uprising of police officers who patrol every city street asking every passer-by for their identification, and I see no reason that the national ID card, in contrast, would cause this.

I would almost identify with the Libertarian party if it weren’t for the paranoia…

But if a policeman asks to see your driver’s licence while you are driving, you must produce it, correct? (NB non-driver posting here). I think the idea here is that just as you must carry a driver’s licence to prove you have the right to drive, so you will have to carry a national ID card to prove you have the right to be in the country. I don’t know if the intention is to use a national ID in this manner, but if so, I agree it’s pretty scary.

And thoroughly useless as far as the bigtime terrorists go, though it might catch a few illegal Latino immigrants (and will almost certainly result in the harassment of plenty of legal Latinos…)

I keep going back to the old issue that you already carry a drivers license and have a social security number. You’ve already got an ID card. you get stopped on the street by a cop because of suspicious behavior, you’re going to the station if you don’t produce a picture ID.

I really believe only those who have something to hide have a problem with ID cards. Sure, it will make it harder to dodge out of state parking tickets and bill collectors, but last time I checked that wasn’t in the constitution. I have to weigh in on the side of those that think the only people who have to worry about ID cards are those with the potential of doing something against the law.

Like the Nazi analogy. Really helps the arguement. Someone help out with a handy cite with the industrialized nations that don’t require an ID card. I’ve seen it before on the boards.

I’ve lived in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Japan for 15 years. That whole time I have had to carry either my US passport or the local ID card. There has not been one occaision when it has infringed on my life that I can recall. Most of these countries require you to show ID when checking into a hotel, opening a bank account, flying and of course when entering and exiting the country. IIRC, the US only requires an ID when entering the US, and only the airlines require an ID when you depart the US.

ruadh - Yes, that is true. But the reason the police officer would be asking me to see my drivers’ licence is because he has pulled me over in conjunction with some perceived illegal activity. Simply driving down the road is not enough to warrant his pulling me over or his request to see my licence.

Much like I don’t believe simply walking down the street, simply sitting on a bench in the park, simply lounging around reading at home, simply shopping, or simply living live by the law of the land would be enough to warrant a policeman invading my privacy to ask for proof of ID.

Sounds a bit alarmist to me, not to mention the extreme misinformed hyperbole and the actual invocation of Godwin’s law.

At the very least, if one is going to draw Nazi parallels, it would be a good idea to illustrate in detail using factual information. Here’s on example where they are making things up:

In reality the government has recognized the possibility for abuse [not by themselves, but by criminals], and there will be no database of such information. I apologize that there is no published cite, but if you are willing to take me at my word, I’ve talked with those involved in the project and was given some background.

Should the government wish to track you, they already have the tools to do a more than passable job. The thing is, the generally don’t care. Unless you are fond of illegal activities, why would you worry if the government knew where you had lunch?

This is not to say I think the ID card would aid one bit in the struggle against terrorists. I’m not overly convinced of their utility for the average citizen either, but I don’t see the particular dangers the OP presents to be credible. All that is missing is the Notradamus ‘mark of the beast’ quatrain.

I know some black Americans who would disagree with your last sentence. And, to repeat my earlier misgiving, I’m pretty damn sure some Latino (and Arab) Americans would have the same problem if a national ID card were to be issued.

No, it’s not Nazi Germany. But I do see more potential abuses of it than potential benefits.

Okay, let’s just go ahead and give away the easy stuff: sure, there’s no reason to believe that government agents [sub]waco[/sub] would be anything but righteous [sub]ruby ridge[/sub]; and they can demand your ID anyway [sub]peter mcwilliams[/sub] anytime they feel like it [sub]random traffic stops[/sub]; and the old Nazi argument [sub]holocost[/sub] really is used to death [sub]gestapo[/sub].

Okay, fine. So what we’ve done is eliminate all the reasons such a thing is needed. Why spend all the money and invest all the resources to plan, implement, establish, and enforce yet another bureaucracy that nobody needs? Of course, I don’t know why I’m asking, since my original questions are still unaddressed. Has there ever been a new law that did not create a new crime? Don’t you imagine that organized crime is just licking its chops over the potential these cards have for them to make money?

I think you may just well have penned the survivalist national anthem. I suggest you set it to snare drum and fife and add a verse about the men in black coming to violate our 2nd amendment rights.:slight_smile:

You are correct that as I understand the program, there will be a segment of the population that thinks up new and ingenious ways to exploit it. But, I don’t see it as a violation of civil liberties. If you are going to be harassed, stopped without cause, or even tear gassed; these things can all be done without an ID card program. I look at it as nothing more than a glorified passport or standardized drivers license: a widely recognized ID.

I’m more inclined to dismiss the whole issue rather than argue its merits or misgivings, because I simply don’t see why a national ID card is needed or what good it would do anyone. I don’t see what harm it would do anyone either, except inconvenience those ID-fakers who would have to come up with a whole new template. I certainly don’t think it’d be anywhere near a step toward nazi Germany; I actually do put a little bit of faith into the government that runs this country, and I don’t think they’re all out to be Big Bad Evil Men looking to Catalogue Our Every Movement and Trap Us Into An Autonomic Society Where We Have No Liberties At All.

Libertarian, I think any government that leads a country as large and powerful as ours is going to flub up and do something wrong a few times. I’d imagine, though, that if we were all to draw up a list of all the things the government has done that have been good, and compare it to all the things the government has done that have been bad, you’d find there’s a lot more good than bad, it’s just hard to hear about because Good News Doesn’t Get Ratings.

Totally aside from that - how do you do the little text subscript stuff? The vB code page doesn’t say! :frowning:

ruadh, your point about racial profiling is noted, however living for the past 14 years in a city which, although is not rural - around 350,000 people from what I recall - is also not huge nor known for its crime rate, I have no idea how often it actually happens across the US, or if it happens whenever the police want or only if they know there’s a man fitting certain racial descriptions who’s wanted, or if there are many cases of the police having actual reasons to pull someone over but civil-rights lawyers have blown it out of proportion (I’m sure there’s at least some of that happening). I do recall hearing something, sometime, about racial profiling being illegal outside of seeing a person who fits a profile of someone wanted for a crime, but I couldn’t begin to cite it for you.

At any rate, I’m also sure that (perhaps just outside major urban/crime-infested areas, I’m not sure) the overwhelming majority of traffic stops are for speeding/reckless driving/suspected drunken driving or because the car or its licence plates came up as stolen or being involved in a crime. I don’t believe racial profiling is the “norm” or the majority of traffic stops. And I don’t think that our government would allow it to become that way, nor would our people. So I have to doubt - because I do have that aforementioned faith in the government, because they are doing a better job than I would, I’m sure :slight_smile: - that the issuing of a national ID would suddenly turn our country into a police state.

On a side note, do cops have the authority to ask for ID from anyone they see who is acting in a potentially illegal or offensive manner? Like, if the cop is walking through a mall or something, and sees a guy he thinks may have stolen something or hurt somebody or carrying drugs - do they have the right to detain that person momentarily and question them and ask for their ID? I honestly don’t know. But if they do, then I don’t see why they couldn’t be doing that already to the Latino/Arab population … yet … I haven’t heard anything about that.


Click the quote icon for this post and examine [sub]this[/sub].

Thank you :slight_smile:

I agree with Lib on this, wholeheartedly. (Not a huge surprise, o’ course :))

First: requiring a national ID will create a whole new class of crime. Being without papers. Right now, if I’m walking down the street and a cop asks for an ID, if I don’t have one, there’s nothing he can do, in the absence of other factors. Once national IDs become manditory, I’ve suddenly committed a crime if I’m sitting in a park, reading a book and I can’t produce the thing on demand.

Second: I should have the right to travel freely inside my own country without being required to show papers on demand. It presumes guilt: that I don’t have a right to be here unless I can positively prove that I can.

Third: (And I can’t justify this, I’m explaining a feeling) It seems wrong. Like it or not, there are echos of Nazis “Ve voudt like to zee your papers. Schnell!” I understand that “because the Nazis did it, it’s automatically bad” is a fallacy, but it doesn’t change the fact that that’s how I feel about it.

Fourth: When I’m required to produce an ID when driving or flying, I’m not concerned because I’ve entered into an agreement that if I’m performing those activities, I’ll carry an ID. And I can choose NOT to perform them. A national ID would, in essence, require me to have an ID simply for existing. And I can’t choose not to do that.

Fifth: What would it accomplish? Right now, if someone is engaging in suspicious behavior, a cop can find SOME way to haul him in without the “not carrying an ID” excuse.

What’s interesting, is that this issue demonstrates that the standard left-right axis doesn’t work. The four-part axis that I can’t find right now but Lib has it (and will link to it, please?!) is more accurate (even if the test isn’t very good). I’m a Republican with strong libertarian sympathies. My best friend is a stauch died-in-the-wool Repub. Lib is a Libertarian and Ruadh is (I believe) a Democrat. And we’re all on the same side.


Ex-Democrat, Fenris. Last time I re-registered (in the States) it was as an independent. But that’s because my politics are too far left for me to feel comfortable in the Democratic Party. Which I think proves your point even more.

Do you have any reason to believe that it will be a crime to simply be without ID? There are of course places and activities that already require some form of ID, and that would not change.

There already are places like that, and granted there may be a few more added, but I think the practice of checking ID at borders, government buildings, etc. is either already occurring or the checks will be initiated with or without a new form of ID.

Can’t fault a guy for his feelings, but why does everything we don’t like have lead to goose-stepping Forth Reich metaphors?

I have to agree with your next two points, I’ve already stated I don’t see the utility in the damned things as I understand the proposed program. My issue with the OP is that it is alarmist, utilizes mis-information (like the biometric identifiers quote), and relies on paranoid fear instead of solid logic (“In Nazi Germany, citizens had to produce a compulsory ID on demand”). The Nazis also had a grand time at Octoberfest, should I eschew beer and sausage? Not going to happen.

There are valid reasons to oppose the program, if we could concentrate on them instead of the ‘papers please’ fears, I think you’d find I’m also in agreement.

What would be the purpose of a national ID card without a law requiring that you carry it? I have no real problem with an national ID card that’s not manditory to carry. But if it was voluntary, what good would it do?

Suspicious looking character: Cheeze officah! I din’ doo nuthin’!

Outdated, stereotypical Irish Cop: Shar ye didn’t boyo. I saw ye loiterin with malice o’ farthought. Let’s see yer ID card.

Suspicious looking character: I don’ have it on me. It mus’ be in my udda suit what my brudda is wearin’!

Outdated, stereotypical Irish Cop: Oh, well shar an begorrah, that’s foine then. Carry on. <Walks away, twirling his baton and whistling “To-ra-lou-rah-lou-rah”

Fenris (who admits that the dialogue didn’t really add to the argument, but it was fun to write.

Im in on the camp that says “this won’t help”. and that to me is sufficient cause to not do it. New legislation to design, impliment and provide services for this National ID card would cost money that could be much better spent elsewhere.

In some locations, not being able to prove your id can be sufficient to get you a ride downtown (it was one of the highly ironic things I saw happening to my clients - they’d be arrested, have all ID etc. conficscated at the local authority, be sentenced to prison , issued a prison ID, on their release date, they were to turn back the prison ID (no, they didn’t get their own stuff back, that was or might be still at the local place, but probably not), here’s a bus ticket to bumfuxt city, buh-bye! write when you get work’; arrive at said bumfuxt city, be seen wandering downtown with large cardboard box of your worldly goods, have local constabulary stop and ask for ID, dope, don’t have any, get locked up again as a ‘vagrant’.

And, as was pointed out, if ya think an organization that has the means and desire to invest for 2 years for pilot training for 20 guys (or so), and they wouldn’t be able to get forged ID cards? feh.


You can get to it from the front page of the Libertarian Party site, about half-way down on the right.

One more vote against. It serves no useful purpose and it is one more bureaucratic hassle to deal with. A waste of time for everybody involved. Renew my ID card? I’d rather be sailing.