The nice guys behind REAL ID

The REAL ID Act of 2005 sets up a de facto national identification card for American citizens. Almost nobody actually wants a national identification card, though. For many, it brings up still-fresh memories of Nazi Germany, which used national identification to control, and later slaughter, its population. For others, the national ID is the mark of the beast, without which one won’t be able to participate in everyday commerce, and which brings closer the prophecy of the second coming.

For a very few well-connected people, the REAL ID Act is a way to make lots of money.

The organization set to profit from the REAL ID Act is the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators. According to its web site, AAMVA “is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization striving to develop model programs in motor vehicle administration, police traffic services and highway safety. The association also serves as an information clearinghouse in these areas, and acts as the international spokesman for these interests.’

AAMVA is the most likely organization to run the massive new databases which will be required for the REAL ID Act. It represents all 50 U.S. states and 10 Canadian provinces.

And now, AAMVA has hired Brian Zimmer, a well-connected House staffer who is a major proponent of REAL ID.

Zimmer worked for the past five years as senior policy adviser and investigator for the House Judiciary Committee. There he helped investigate and conduct the committee’s oversight on issues such as fraud prevention, border security and counterterrorism, among others.

Before working with the Judiciary Committee, Zimmer from 1995 to 2001 served as the automated procurement manager in the Office of Procurement and Purchasing in the House.

At AAMVA, his responsibilities include working on identity management policy, managing the identity management staff and working with outside groups that deal with identify management, among other activities. He also will work to pursue federal grants for identity management projects. — Roll Call

AAMVA has been at this for a very long time, notes Jim Harper, director of information policy studies for the Cato Institute.

AAMVA is well recognized (by those who care to follow these issues) as a proponent of driver regulation, national IDs, and even internationally uniform ID systems. Since at least the late 1930’s AAMVA has been pushing regulatory control of drivers and driving. As I note in my book, Identity Crisis, “Before September 11, 2001, AAMVA promoted a national identification card as a solution to illegal immigration. After September 11, 2001, it promoted a national identification card as a solution to terrorism. If national identification cards are a hammer, AAMVA sees every public policy problem as a nail.’

AAMVA collects about $1 per driver per year (roughly $13 million) for its part in administering the Commercial Drivers License Information System. AAMVA would make much more as the administrator of databases required by the REAL ID Act. — Jim Harper, Cato Institute

Harper further notes that “Brian is a nice guy and, as I say, dedicated to his cause.’

The people who want to control and oppress you are almost always nice guys. But they’re always dedicated to their cause, that of complete domination of your life in every conceivable aspect. That’s why, nice as they may be, they must continue to be vigorously opposed.

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