XXXXX DRUDGE REPORT XXXXX SUNDAY SEPT 23 2001 20:02:37 ET XXXXX
BUSH CONTEMPLATES NATIONAL ID CARD FOR ALL CITIZENS
A highly controversial option has emerged for use in fighting terrorism in the United States: A national ID card which would be issued to every citizen.
A proposal for the creation of a national ID card was presented to President Bush in recent days, top government sources tell the DRUDGE REPORT.
The ID card plan was included in a classified briefing outlining steps the nation can take to limit exposure to terror attacks.
Bush briefly discussed the ID card option with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, according to insiders.
"I can tell you this, the president is very reluctant [to issue a national ID card]," a top White House source said on Sunday. "But we must look at all options."
Just as House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt [D-MO] says Congress should quickly move to open debate on security measures such as a national ID card.
"We are in a new world," Gephardt said. "This event will change the balance between freedom and security."
SAFETY FROM A CHIP
ORACLE Chairman and CEO Larry Ellison this weekend called for the United States to create a national identification system -- and offering to donate the software to make it possible -- free-of-charge.
"We need a national ID card with our photograph and thumbprint digitized and embedded in the ID card," Ellison said in an interview Friday night on the evening news of KPIX-TV in San Francisco.
Blair has tentatively approved identity cards which will be introduced for the first time in Britain.
The universal identity card leads major papers in London on Monday:
'ID CARDS FOR ALL' fronts the TIMES.
'IDENTITY CARDS ON THE WAY IN FIGHT ON TERROR' headlines the MAIL.
'WE'RE ALL GOING TO HAVE ID CARDS' splashes the SUN.
Blair has opted for a voluntary scheme in issuing the card, rejecting a compulsory "on demand" card because of connotations with Nazi Germany, where lack of proper identity cards could result in instant arrest, according to reports.
However, it will be virtually impossible for anyone to live a normal life without the new ID card in England - possession of a valid card will be necessary for boarding an aircraft, buying gas, opening a bank account, starting a job or claiming government benefits.
UK. Home Secretary David Blunkett on Sunday questioned the idea of a "voluntary card".
"It would not be a great deal of help" in the fight against terrorism, Blunkett said on BBC1's On the Record.
Blunkett stressed the need to balance the fight against terrorism with the freedoms of a liberal society.
But he said that his "instincts" were that beating terror must take priority and that politicians' ability to act must not be hamstrung by an excessively legalistic approach to human rights.
New laws are expected to be rushed through the U.K.'s Parliament in coming weeks to allow for the legality of a mandatory ID card.
In a nationwide poll released Sunday, a stunning 85% of Brits would welcome a national ID card system in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the United States, with an overwhelming majority calling for the cards to be packed with information to clearly identify the holder: These include photograph (97%), date of birth (96%) eye color (92%), a finger print (85%), DNA details (75%), criminal records (74%) and religion (67%).
Stateside, U.S. Rep. George Gekas [R-PA], chairman of the House immigration subcommittee, told reporters last week that Congress could no longer reject out of hand a national ID card system for citizens.
In a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, seven of 10 Americans favored a requirement that citizens carry a national identity card at all times. The proposal had particularly strong support from women.
ORACLE's Ellison said in the electronic age, little privacy is left anyway.
"Well, this privacy you're concerned about is largely an illusion,'' he told PIX's anchorman Hank Plante. "All you have to give up is your illusions, not any of your privacy. Right now, you can go onto the Internet and get a credit report about your neighbor and find out where your neighbor works, how much they earn and if they had a late mortgage payment and tons of other information."