The Markle Foundation: Font of Evil II

by on July 13, 2006

Waaaaaay back in October 2004, I blogged about the Markle Task Force and the aid it has given to the architects of the surveillance state.

I have complained directly to the members of the Task Force that I know, but I have a persistent sense that most members are unaware, in denial, or indifferent to the role of the group in promoting such things as the U.S. national ID card.

In my opinion, the Markle Task Force dropped the ball completely on privacy and civil liberties. It angers me to hear them pay lip service to these values. They should choke on the words.

This morning, Markle issued its final report. I’ve only skimmed it so far. It’s a lot of gobbledegook, but I know some of it is meant to minimize information sharing among agencies, which is good. The report urges the national security bureaucracy to rationalize information sharing. Well and good.

I’m glad this is their final report. (No link because I don’t want to enhance its search-engine stature – you can find it.) But now it is not just likely – it is guaranteed – that they will abandon their product to the wolves. As before, Markle work will be used to justify what the surveillance-industrial complex wants to do, disregarding countervailing national interests like privacy and civil liberties. On those, we’ll get none of the good stuff and all of the bad.

This morning, I went over to the event at Brookings where members of the Markle Task Force introduced today’s report. I handed out a one-pager that documents the responsibility of the Task Force for our national ID.

I gave one to Jim Barksdale of Netscape fame, a co-chair of the Task Force. He seemed pleased to get something interesting to read. I hope he’s unpleased to read what I think of his little tea-dance with government power.

I hate it when people who are successful in business or singing or acting think they can do public policy. They come to Yosemite and they feed the bears and they think it’s real cute. Then, when the bears are ripping the tops off of cars, they wonder why. I hear Jim Barksdale is a good guy. He should be embarassed.

Annnnyway, my Markle handout (after the jump).

A Markle Task Force Success: The U.S. National ID Card System

Under the REAL ID Act (Pub. L. No. 109-13), states will begin issuing national ID cards through their Departments of Motor Vehicles starting in May 2008. In addition to issuing nationally standardized drivers’ licenses and ID cards, REAL-ID-compliant states will put driver data into nationally accessible databases.

With standard identification documents in the hands of every adult American, the use of identification will grow. Americans will increasingly present their papers in order to access goods, services, infrastructure, and employment. It’s a future that civil libertarians lament, but it represents a substantial advance for law enforcement and national security agencies, soon to be better positioned than ever to track and control the U.S. population.

The Markle Task Force has been given too little credit for giving birth to America’s national ID card. The following brief chronology charts the path of the REAL ID Act and the American national ID card system from its origins with the Markle Task Force.

  • December 2003: In its second report, Creating a Trusted Information Network for Homeland Security, the Markle Task Force “recommend[s] both near-term measures and a longer-term research agenda to increase the reliability of identification while protecting privacy.” Though false identification was not a modus operandi of the 9/11 attackers, Appendix A of the report recommends many measures to increase the reliability of identification.
  • July 2004: The Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (known as the 9/11 Commission) finds that “[t]he federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses.” Though some argue it is not, this is a recommendation to establish a national identification system. The 9/11 Commission cites the Markle Task Force report as its sole source of authority for recommending a national ID.
  • December 2004: Congress passes the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The law contains national standards for drivers’ licenses and identification cards, the national ID system recommended by the Markle Task Force.
  • May 2005: Congress passes a strengthened national ID system in the REAL ID Act. The Department of Homeland Security begins working on regulations, and states begin contemplating the estimated $9 billion cost of implementing the Markle Task Force’s national ID recommendation.
  • Though critics like Jim Harper of the libertarian Cato Institute have shown the national ID system to be both ineffectual in preventing terrorist attack and needlessly threatening to privacy and civil liberties, this should not diminish recognition of the Markle Foundation Task Force’s role in creating America’s national ID system.

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