The letter from Jim Harper regarding Real ID in the April 22 edition of The Advocate was a little misleading. Real ID was passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2005 during the Bush administration. It requires that air travelers carry a form of ID that complies with the requirements of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration (both creations of the Bush administration in response to 9/11).

The purpose of all this is to create a trustworthy form of ID that can be used to ensure air travel security. The first step in securing a flight is to make sure everyone on board is who they claim to be.

The Real ID Act allows states to either adopt the Real ID or to come up with their own version of secure ID that Homeland Security can approve.

The main reason I don’t personally have a problem with all of this is that we have had a similar ID for decades. It is called a U.S. passport. My new one has a computer chip embedded in it that contains all kinds of information about me.

If you object to Real ID as an invasion of privacy or a potential national database of personal information, that horse already has left the barn.

Both the Louisiana and the federal government know all there is to know about you through existing driver’s licenses, Social Security records, tax returns, criminal records, reported banking information, etc.

Neither Homeland Security nor the TSA maintain a database of state driver’s license data. That information is and will continue to be maintained by each individual state, and each state will decide who gets access to this information. The fact that you have a Real ID will simply indicate that you went through a reliable state-level security screening and have an ID that is really, really hard to fake. You can already do the same thing by applying directly to the TSA for a Pre-Check Identification Card.

Bear in mind that Timothy McVeigh and the 9/11 terrorists all had fake state driver’s licenses and state-issued IDs from South Dakota, Florida, Maryland, California, Arizona and Virginia. The only goal of Real ID is to make this a lot more difficult.

Now, I’m not a big fan of unfunded mandates. That’s where the federal government orders the states to do something but doesn’t provide funding to pay for doing it. That part of Real ID may need to be fixed.

Otherwise, sounds like a good plan to me.

Michael Hale

IT consultant

Baton Rouge