South Carolina Beats The Chip, Maine Has More on Wednesday
Maine Gets More Time on Real ID 3-31-07
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Maine has been given more time to sort out its differences with the government over a new federal identification law.
The deadline had been Monday. Homeland Security Secterary Michael Chertoff set a new deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday to give the state more time to show progress toward meeting Real ID guidelines.
Maine is the only state that failed to meet the original deadline for a waiver or wasn't already working toward meeting the law's requirements.
Residents of states that don't get extensions may be barred from entering federal buildings and boarding airplanes using their current driver's licenses beginning in May.
Defiant South Carolina Wins Real ID Extension 3-31-08
WIRED's Magazine's THREAT LEVEL w/Ryan Singel
Despite blasting a defiant last day letter to the Homeland Security Department over pending federal rules Monday, South Carolina Republican governor Mark Sandford secured South Carolinians the right to use their driver's licenses to board planes without being patted down, at least until 2010.
Despite telling the feds he would not comply with their rules, South Carolina's Republican governor successfully prevented the feds from punishing his states' residents as Homeland Security had promised to do. (AP/Mary Ann Chastain)
Just hours after getting Sanford's jeremiad, Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff signed the state's extension (.pdf) personally, writing that "like Montana, your letter sets forth in detail how South Carolina will in fact meet the principal security requirements of Real ID â as a matter of South Carolina's independent judgment, and not as an act of compliance."
Like other rebellious states, South Carolina rejected Real ID mandates, saying the $4-$20 billion dollar program was an unfunded mandate that invaded citizens' privacy and put them at risk of identity theft due to massive, connected databases of sensitive information.
DHS counters that having current license holders have to get certified documents and reprove their eligibility for identification will prevent terrorism and be useful for other purposes such as curtailing illegal immigration and identity theft.
Maine remains the lone state not to have been given an extension, despite having written a letter not unlike ones from Montana and New Hampshire. All of them explained how the respective state had strong license security procedures but wouldn't comply with the Real ID mandate.
Sanford's letter was extraordinary, however, since he used most of his words explaining why he thought Real ID was invasive, unfunded and dangerous.
Chertoff replied personally and substantively, writing that "thoughtful responsible and honest concerns sthat deserve equally thoughtful responses."
By contrast, Montana and New Hampshire got terse letters from Stewart Baker, a sharp-tongued assistant policy secretary who's been accusing critics of Real ID of throwing spaghetti on the walls.
It's clear the rebel states won, according to Bill Scannell, a spokesman for the Identity Project which has been fighting against Real ID.
"Montana's letter smirked," Scannell said. "New Hampshire's was down right disrespectful and you could see the scotch tape from where they cut-and-pasted pages from their DMV handbook."
"But Sanford's five-page letter was Fort Sumter-quality," Scannell said, referring to the South Carolina military installation where the Civil War started.
That leaves Maine as the only rogue left rogue, though the state is likely to get its own extension late Monday.
Once Maine gets its letter from DHS, the department can declare victory in improving the security of the nation's driver's licenses and leave the ongoing funding and privacy problems for a new administration to deal with come January 2009.