Ron Paul's Texas Straight Talk - A weekly Column

The 9-11 Intelligence Bill is More of the Same


October  11, 2004

Last week the House of Representative passed the “9-11 Recommendations Implementation Act,” a bill that ostensibly puts in place the ideas endorsed by the 9-11 Commission.  As I related to you back in August, however, the commission amounted to nothing more than current government officials meeting with former government officials, many of whom now lobby government officials, and agreeing that we need more government!  Most of the reforms contained in this bill will not make America safer, but they definitely will make us less free.  The Act also wastes American taxpayer money on unconstitutional and ineffective foreign aid programs, designed to prove that money can buy us friends. Instead of expanding the federal police state, Congress should make America safer by expanding liberty and refocusing our foreign policy on defending this nation's vital interests, rather than wasting American blood and treasure on quixotic crusades to “democratize” the world.

Disturbingly, the bill creates a de facto national ID card by mandating new federal requirements that standardize state-issued drivers’ licenses and birth certificates, even requiring biometric identifiers. State drivers’ license information will be stored in a national database, which will include information about an individual's driving record that has nothing to do with terrorism.

Nationalizing standards for drivers’ licenses and birth certificates, and linking them together via a national database, creates a national ID system pure and simple.  Proponents of the national ID understand that the public remains wary of the scheme, so they attempt to claim they’re merely creating new standards for existing state IDs.  Nonsense!  This legislation imposes federal standards in a federal bill, and it creates a federal ID regardless of whether the ID itself is still stamped with the name of your state.  It’s just a matter of time until those who refuse to carry the new licenses will be denied the ability to drive or board an airplane.  Domestic travel restrictions are the hallmark of authoritarian states, not free republics.  Nothing in our Constitution can reasonably be construed to allow government officials to demand identification from individuals who are not suspected of any crime.

This legislation’s foreign policy provisions are similarly objectionable and should be strongly opposed.  I find it incredible that in the 500-plus page report, there is not one mention of how our interventionist foreign policy creates enemies abroad who then seek to harm us. Until we consider the root causes of terrorism, beyond the jingoistic explanations offered thus far, we will not defeat terrorism and we will not be safer.

Finally, I am skeptical about the reorganization of the intelligence community in this legislation. In creating an entire new office-- the National Intelligence Director-- we are adding yet another layer of bureaucracy to our already bloated federal government. Yet we are supposed to believe that even more of the same kind of government that failed us on September 11, 2001 will make us safer. At best, this is wishful thinking. The constitutional function of our intelligence community is to protect the United States from foreign attack. Yet ever since the National Security Act of 1947, the agencies created have been meddling in affairs that have nothing to do with the security of the United States. When considering the CIA’s overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammed Mossadeq in the 1950s, or CIA training of the Muhajadin jihadists in Afghanistan in the 1980s, it is entirely possible the actions of the CIA abroad have actually made us less safe and more vulnerable to foreign attack. It would be best to confine our intelligence community to the defense of our territory from foreign attack. This may well mean eliminating the CIA altogether and turning intelligence functions over to the Department of Defense, where they belong.