Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

This man could get away with murder 

Meet new Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff. He may be a competent and very nice fellow, I don't know much about him. But if the Real ID Act passes in the Senate as it did in the House last week, he could literally get away with murder.

First, what the Real ID Act isn't: it is not a law requiring all Americans to get a "national ID card".

What it is: a law requiring state IDs to conform to national standards so they can be used with all interactions with the federal government. I say sure, great idea - not that it will, but this has the potential to make government more efficient. On a personal level, I'd rather keep track of just my driver's license than a driver's license and Social Security card. If you don't want one, get rid of your driver's license. Problem solved.

But here's what else it is: a get out of jail free card for the Secretary of DHS.

 Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and
 Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103
 note) is amended to read as follows:
  '(c) Waiver-
   '(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision
of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the
authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary,
in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to
ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads
under this section.
   '(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other
provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall
have jurisdiction--
     '(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action
undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of
Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or
    ' (B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive,
equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise
from any such action or decision.'.

Breaking the legalese down,

The Secretary of Homeland Security shall ignore all laws which, in his sole judgment may slow up the construction of barriers and roads at the border. No one can challenge his judgments in court in any way whatsoever. He can do anything he wants to get those barriers and roads up and you have no rights. He is completely and legally above the law.

Said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) in the floor debate over the bill,

"If this provision, the waiver of all laws necessary for quote improvements of barriers at the border was to become law, the Secretary of Homeland Security could give a contract to his political cronies that had no safety standards, using 12-year-old illegal immigrants to do the labor, run it through the site of a Native American burial ground, kill bald eagles in the process, and pollute the drinking water of neighboring communities. And under the provisions of this act, no member of Congress, no citizen could do anything about it because you waive all judicial review."

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