Thursday, July 9, 2009

Federal Anti-Real ID hearing may include discussion on PASS Act

PASS Act Opponents snubbed

A BTC Exclusive

WASHINGTON -The first hearing to discuss efforts to repeal the Real ID Act is scheduled next Wednesday at 10:00 AM. Murmurs from organizers behind the scenes conclude that PASS Act proponents only will be invited to join DHS Senate Committee hearing, January 15th. According to ACLU sources, S.1261's opponents are managing their expectations about the upcoming DHS Senate committee hearing and of the PASS Act in discussions.

"It’s certainly not uncommon for opponents of legislation that a committee supports to be excluded from hearings. Though usually, they’re simply put on a second, smaller panel and are subject to much harsher questioning from members. Either way, you can usually tell how a committee feels about particular legislation by the composition and order of panels during a hearing," said Mary Bonventre. As of yesterday afternoon the ACLU has not yet received an invitation to the hearing.

Other civil liberties and privacy groups continue to express skepticism about how the hearing will be handled by DHS Chair, Joe Lieberman.

"The idea that the hearing is about re-evaluation of Real ID is the propaganda Akaka, Lieberman, DHS and everyone wants people to believe," says Stop Real ID Coalition advocate, Mark Lerner. "This is why Stewart Baker is being allowed to testify."

Baker, employed by DHS, is rumored to be skeptical himself over the PASS Act's regulations to perform national security functions. While Real ID opponent, Center for Democracy & Technology is expected to extoll the virtues of compromise presented in the PASS Act.
The PASS Act doesn't yet meet the standards of longtime electronic privacy advocate, Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) or of the Senate chairman's performance on the issue.

"Put another way, congressional hearings are staged performances. Here it is being controlled by Lieberman, and he ruined PASS ID," says Tien, who found less fault with the legislation "before Lieberman got hold of it." 

The DHS Senate Committee has neither confirmed or denied whether the PASS Act will be brought up for discussion during the hearing. The hearing was scheduled to re-evaluate the effectiveness of Real ID as a legislation.

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