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National ID Card Resurfaces in Wake of Attack

Thursday, 20 September 2001 12:00 AM

At least two Members of Congress have suggested that security considerations might make a national ID card program a greater imperative, but an official with a Washington, D.C. privacy think tank disagrees.

"We think that it is a rash decision that has already been debated and rejected by the American people and to surrender our civil liberties and our constitutional rights in response to this tragedy; it is only then that the terrorists will win," said J. Bradley Jansen, deputy director of the Free Congress Foundation's Center for Technology Policy.

Jansen went so far as to say implementing a national ID card would besmirch the legacy of those who've fought for civil liberties in the U.S.

"If we do give up those civil liberties and constitutional rights," Jansen said, "we will dishonor all of those millions of Americans throughout our history who fought and sacrificed, some of them with their lives, to protect those rights and liberties we enjoy today."

Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) foresees that the issue of national identification cards may grow into an issue demanding attention from Congress.

In an interview with The Desert Sun newspaper in her home state, Bono said, "When we consider ourselves to be at war, people are going to have to recognize that some of their freedoms are going to be gone."

She said security concerns might be addressed in a variety of possible ways.

"Whether we are talking national ID cards I don't know, or fingerprinting of everybody, I don't know where we are going to go with security. I will always err on the side of caution and err on the side of safety and security for our people," Bono was quoted as saying.

Rusty Payne, press secretary for Bono, said the congresswoman wasn't endorsing the implementation of national ID cards, but only warning that such a debate could be in the near future.

"She was simply preparing people, readers and constituents for the inevitable proposals that would be thrown around," Payne said.

Bono isn't the only one in Congress talking about a national ID card program.

House Minority Leader Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) acknowledged in a Fox News interview that Congress needed to quickly debate a number of proposals, possibly including a national ID card.

Gephardt also pointed out that the American people have rejected the idea of national ID cards in the past because it was viewed as an infringement on civil liberties, and the House Democratic leader said recent events raise fresh questions.

"What kind of identity cards would we make citizens and others carry? Would they carry more information?" Gephardt asked rhetorically.

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At least two Members of Congress have suggested that security considerations might make a national ID card program a greater imperative, but an official with a Washington, D.C. privacy think tank disagrees. We think that it is a rash decision that has already been debated...
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2001-00-20
Thursday, 20 September 2001 12:00 AM
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