Monday, December 19, 2005


Deborah Davis, a 50-year-old mother of four, is in an
all ordinary woman, although she does have a son
serving in Iraq. To save money, she rides the bus to
work in Denver, Colorado. Every morning, her bus goes
through the Denver Federal Center, a collection of
government offices in an area with increased security.
Every morning, officers from the Department of
Homeland Security board the bus and check the IDs of
all passengers, whether or not they are exiting the
bus at the Federal Center. The officers glance at it,
but don’t check it against any list. There appears to
be no earthly reason to ask for ID, except a sort of
vague sense that it’s helpful in an age of terror.

In September, they had the following conversation:

Officer: "Do you have your ID?"
Davis: "Yes."
Officer: "May I see it?"
Davis: "No."

Officers would later said she was "argumentative." In
any case they handcuffed her and arrested her.

I’ve had this experience myself – not of being
arrested, but being asked to show ID without it being
checked against a database or recorded in any way. I
also work in this field of identification and the law,
and understand the temptation to believe that an ID
has some magic function that deters terrorists.

Well, it doesn’t, and all the 9/11 hijackers had valid
ID, and few were on any watch lists. Aside from being
unconstitutional, (the charges against her have been
dropped) the exercise on the bus was a colossal waste
of time, and probably detrimental to any effort to
prevent real terrorism.

But that's the world we live in now. Unthinking,
painfully useless attempts to deal with our fear.
Which is all the terrorists wanted in the first place.


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