Monday, July 18, 2005

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Dear Ms. _____:

Thank you for contacting me regarding proposals to institute a national identification system. I appreciate the benefit of your views on this important issue. Like virtually all Americans, I believe that our government must take necessary steps to fight global terrorism and protect American lives. However, I agree with you that we must not allow terrorists to compromise or diminish the freedoms which define our great country. I firmly believe that security and libertyare not mutually exclusive, and that our new security measures must not impinge on the civil liberties and freedoms that define our great country.

As you may know, Representative James Sensenbrenner (R-WI)introduced H.R. 418, the REAL ID Act, on January 26, 2005. The REAL ID Act would require State departments of motor vehicles toverify documents used to obtain drivers licenses without specifically appropriating funds for this purpose. The NationalConference of State Legislatures estimates that this unfunded mandate will cost States between $500 million and $700 millionover five years to implement. Finally, these licencing requirements also raise privacy issues, since Departments of Motor Vehicles will gain access to private information and are required to hold such information for over ten years. During a Conference Committee with the House of Representatives, most provisions of the REAL ID bill were attached to the final version of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief of 2005 (H.R. 1268). This legislation wasapproved by the Senate by a vote of 100-0 and was signed into law by President Bush on May 11, 2005. I strongly support all funds necessary to equip and protect our troops. So long as they are in danger they need whatever resources military commanders deem necessary to get the job done. That is why, despite my reservations about aspects of the REAL ID Act, I voted in favor of the conference report on H.R. 1268.

However, I am concerned that the provisions of the REAL ID bill included in H.R. 1268 were never debated on the Senate Judiciary Committee and were never properly considered on the Senate floor. Certainly, some reform with respect to identification documents may be required, but this partisan and hasty approach was not the best way to proceed. I will continue to support measures that enhance national security while also respecting the privacy of the majority of law-abiding Americans. Similarly, I will continue to oppose any information gathering system that is too large to be effective or that unnecessarily gathers information on every American.

Thank you again for contacting me. If you would liketo stay in touch with me on this and other issues of importance, please visit my website at and subscribe to my online newsletter, the Dodd Digest. Please do not hesitateto contact me again if I can help you in any way.


United States Senator

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