Nadine Strossen's concerns that a national ID card would lead to racial profiling and further intrusions into the lives of Americans are a red herring [letters, Nov. 6]. A national ID card would lead to less of both.
A secure document, with an encrypted biometric identifier, that is used by all citizens and legal permanent residents to establish their identities would mitigate the need for subjective judgments based on external characteristics such as race or ethnicity. Using an electronically verifiable document to prove employment eligibility would eliminate the American Civil Liberties Union's concern about unequal scrutiny. Do ATM machines scrutinize the cards of people who "look foreign" differently from others who want to withdraw cash?
An identity document that includes biometric identifiers would also protect people's privacy. Right now all someone needs is access to your Social Security number to gain access to all sorts of private data. With a secure document, they would also need your hand or your face.
Federation for American Immigration Reform
A solution to the false ID problem, with adequate privacy protections, is long overdue and should be implemented quickly. This is not the first terrorist ID crisis.
In 1974 the U.S. Department of Justice responded to domestic terrorist ID crimes by creating the Federal Advisory Committee on False Identification. This organization took the first comprehensive look at the multibillion-dollar false ID problem and its effect on fugitives, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, welfare fraud and hundreds of other crimes.
After a two-year study, the advisory committee members from federal and state law enforcement and other agencies, the military and the private sector issued a comprehensive report with many recommendations. Members opposed the creation of a national identity card primarily on privacy grounds. However, it noted that state driver's licenses and birth certificates are "breeder documents" for all other IDs. Thus, they are de facto the primary identification documents, and many steps should be taken to increase their security.
Unfortunately, little has been done in this critical area. In most states, anyone still can obtain a false ID driver's license or birth certificate with little trouble.
The false ID loopholes should be closed now, with appropriate privacy protections, and birth certificates and driver's licenses should be made secure.
DAVID J. MUCHOW
The writer chaired the Federal Advisory Committee on False Identification from 1974 to 1976.