Of course- calls for National ID systems are rarely based in good sense, and questions like yours aren't supposed to be raised. Wait, "rarely" based in good sense? Hm- I think I meant to say "never".
The fundamental flaw to most of these "knee-jerk" solutions is that they miss the point: perfect security is impossible, because any attempt simply makes the workarounds more sophisticated themselves for anyone sufficiently motivated to try (and especially for those who don't care about the consequences afterwards). This could be done either through social engineering to penetrate the authorizing agencies or through technological workarounds. For example, calls for armed sky marshalls seem doomed to failure; essentially, it's an invitation for a terrorist organization to infiltrate and place one of their own in as a sky marshall- then conveniently armed by the FAA itself- and I 'spect they'd work just as hard to infiltrate someone into the National ID Agency so fake IDs could be made. And I'm sure there's a fanatical Islamic MacGyver out there somewhere who's figuring out how to make nitroglycerin out of his own saliva, a bag of unsalted peanuts, and the glue from the binding of the in-flight magazine, or some other way of sneaking a weapon onto a plane (hm- reminds me of John Malkovich's plastic air gun from "In the Line of Fire"). With enough ingenuity, you could probably hide all the necessary elements to build a bomb or a weapon among ordinary items that you'd find in a carry-on bag, from shaving cream to disposable razors to Discmans to whatever.
Anyway, given that reality, security implementations that shatter civil liberties are a perfect example of Ben Franklin's famous maxim regarding the failure of attempting to gain security through a sacrifice of liberty. Metal detectors and secured gateways are a good idea that addresses the problem closer to its root without stomping on our rights; National ID cards won't do anything to stop terrorists but will start trampling rights unnecessarily. Hell, my thinking is that if we start racially-based or citizen profiling, a smart terrorist will take us by surprise- and try to find some of the remaining Montana militia folk willing to do their dirty work. After all, it's this passage from the neo-Nazi's "bible", The Turner Diaries, that details flying a suicide plane loaded with explosives into the Pentagon. If we think as Ann Coulter does that only the "swarthy males" would be willing to attack this country, I'm sure well-funded terrorists could dig up a few blond-haired, blue-eyed All-American zealots to make the next attempt.
Not that I'm surprised by this incomprehension among those calling for ID cards, though; if the stuffed suits at the RIAA couldn't understand this basic notion regarding security, why should the stuffed suits on Capitol Hill be any wiser?posted by hincandenza at 11:42 PM on September 22, 2001
Not explicitly, but Reps. Mary Bono and Dick Gephardt have both said that such a debate in Congress is very likely to occur at some point in the relatively near future.
I wouldn't worry about the Office of Homeland Security for a while. Ridge isn't even giving up his governor's job for another three weeks, and it'll probably take months to even find the OHS some basic office space, to say nothing of determining what it will actually be able to do.posted by aaron at 12:14 AM on September 23, 2001
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