Because knowing who is on a bus is clearly more important
Posted by aogMonday, 03 May 2010 at 20:59 TrackBack Ping URL

Senator Dick Durbin calls for a national ID card — all the GOP would have to do to spike this is require using the ID to vote. If there’s one thing the Democratic Party can’t permit it’s making sure only valid voters actually vote.

P.S. As others have noted this follows on the heels of massive outrage over requiring ID in Arizona.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
AVeryRoughRoadAhead Tuesday, 04 May 2010 at 04:39

I’ll do Durbin one better - I believe that every American citizen, resident alien, and visitor to U.S. shores should be required to submit fingerprints and a DNA sample to populate a national database.

Now, in my romantic youth, possibly as a result of reading too many Harry Harrison novels, I was very strongly ag’in such a thing. And there are many here among us, who feel that a universal ID database would somehow give the gov’t too much power for mischief. Pre-War on Drugs, pre-War on Terror, I’d agree with them.

However, over the past decades we’ve all seen the stories that made the national press: Cops in LA planting guns in a restaurant owner’s establishment; small-business owners convicted of conspiring to grow a thousand acres of marijuana for selling lamps; officers of various agencies choosing whom to target based not on the relative repulsiveness of the target’s supposed crimes, but rather on the attractiveness of the target’s soon-to-be-seized property - guilt or innocence moot; dozens of people sent to prison for drug-related crimes, based on the false testimony of an undercover agent who could produce no written notes, audio recordings, video surveillance, or even corroborating testimony from other officers or agents…

Given the nature of such things, we can safely assume that there are also hundreds of similar cases that didn’t get any exposure.

And that’s just the War on Drugs. Add in the warrentless, no-knock, no-phone-call-or-lawyer provisions of the War on Terror legislation and policies, and it quickly becomes apparent that a “national DNA database is a slippery slope to Hell” position is at best a thought that hasn’t been revisited since Farrah Fawcett was a pin-up star, and at worst is naïveté.

Having access to somebody’s fingerprints and DNA is not necessary to destroy their life, if corrupt officials decide that they need a patsy, or well-intentioned authorities make an honest mistake.

Therefore, since the downside to such a universal database is already existent, only GOOD can be realized from actually compiling the database, and using it to solve and deter crimes.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 04 May 2010 at 08:57

I find that argument very unpersuasive.

The minor problem is the idea that if things are bad, they can’t get worse. May I presume that you don’t lock your doors or use passwords, because those are broken through everyday, so only GOOD can come leaving them off. Seriously, you rant about how police abuse their current powers and conclude with “compiling the database, and using it to solve and deter crimes”. That would seem to be the opposite conclusion from your prior argument. More consistently it would be “compiling the database, and using it to abuse the citizenry more efficiently”.

The major reason though is that you seem to be presuming an accurate and well maintained database. Excuse, I have to get back in my chair, after the laughter lets me go … OK, I’m back. Do you not think that such a database would become the primary target for every hacker and social engineering criminal enterprise? Or the source of petty revenge (like the IRS databases)? Criminals won’t have fake IDs anymore, they’ll have real ones. Or look past the corruption issue and think about the damage done by simple incompetence.

AVeryRoughRoadAhead Wednesday, 05 May 2010 at 04:23

Your argument strikes me as being very similar to that used by gun-control advocates, when they claim that firearms won’t help the ordinary citizen avert crime, as they’re simply likely to be seized by the criminals and used against the former holder. But if that’s the case, then why do police officers carry firearms?

Similarly, if databases are ineffectively populated and maintained, and ripe for abuse and fraud, then you must be strongly opposed to the FBI’s existing fingerprint database, yes? And if databases aren’t worth the effort to construct and maintain, then why has Oracle grown so strongly over the past decades?

How would gaining access to a fingerprint and DNA database help criminals to acquire authentic ID more easily than they now do? Will they somehow forge fingerprints, or construct DNA out of amino acids, to spoof DMV clerks?

But why would they go to all of that trouble, when all that a common criminal needs for a new ID is access to credit records, WHICH ALREADY OCCURS.

So, again, the downsides that you’ve mentioned ARE ALREADY COMMON. Not populating a universal fingerprint and DNA databese will do NOTHING to stop that which already occurs - it merely stops society from enjoying the upside to such a system. For instance, you mention the damage done by simple incompetence - do you believe that there aren’t incompetent lab techs RIGHT NOW misanalyzing DNA, fiber, hair, voice recording, handwriting, polygraph, and forensic ballistics evidence???

Since incompetence in criminal investigations already exists, I’m puzzled as to how you believe that more people would be hurt in a world where everyone’s vital identifiers were on file.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 05 May 2010 at 08:12

Actually, I found your argument very similar to gun control advocates, in that given a society problem, your solution is to take away privileges and immunities from citizens by shifting more power and control to the State. Beyond that, I read your argument as basically “the government regularly abuses citizens, so lets give it more power and ability to do so because what could go wrong?”. Unlikely to be persuasive to the average citizen I would think.

You are also trying to set up a false dichotomy where one must either favor any and all government databases, or none. This again is a tactic remarkably similar to gun control advocates who say “well, if a citizen can own a rifle, why not a tactical nuke?”.

You are also drawing false analogies between things which empower citizens, and things which empower the State, and to me those are opposites, not similars.

So, again, the downsides that you’ve mentioned ARE ALREADY COMMON. Not populating a universal fingerprint and DNA databese will do NOTHING to stop that which already occurs - it merely stops society from enjoying the upside to such a system.

Again the false dichotomy. You have provided absolutely no evidence that the downsides will not get more common. Why not argue for police to be able to stop and search citizens at will? Clearly there’s a societal upside to that, and stops without cause ARE ALREADY COMMON, so why not? Answer that and you’ll see my point here.

P.S. I am not sure that such a database would not be of net benefit. I simply find your arguments in favor of it rather weak tea at best.

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