Ten Years After 9/11 - New York and D.C. Remain at Risk Warns Driver's License Research Organization CSDL

Sep 13, 2011, 09:00 ET from Coalition for a Secure Driver's License

WASHINGTON and NEW YORK, Sept. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The President of the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License (www.secure-license.org) said today that "a  decade after the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., foreign terrorists can still easily get IDs through fraud in this country. Let's be clear, these are NOT fake IDs, but valid driver's licenses issued by the states through fraud prone processes."

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Brian Zimmer explains: "The 9/11 investigation revealed that the terrorists had fraudulently obtained over 30 valid IDs and driver's licenses. These identity documents allowed them to bring down the twin towers and attack the Pentagon. The 9/11 Commission report stated: For terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons. And the 9/11 Commission recommended that: The federal government should set standards for the issuance of ... sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. Congress passed the REAL ID Act in 2005, yet a majority of states, including New York State, remain vulnerable."

Mr. Zimmer notes there has been progress: "Since the REAL ID Act regulations were issued in 2008, more than half of the states have upgraded the security of their driver's licenses from the card security to issuance processes to fraud mitigation efforts. For example, New Jersey DMV has made remarkable progress in moving toward meeting national standards over the past two years, despite the state's budget constraints."

He said: "Although twenty states have met eighteen or more of the REAL ID benchmarks, the driver's licenses issued in most states remain vulnerable to fraud and the same loopholes exploited by the 9/11 terrorists. Terrorists are smart. With today's heightened airport security, they know they need acceptable IDs to get by the check points at airports. They will seek valid IDs from the states with the most security loopholes. This country is only as safe as the weakest link."

Formed in October, 2001, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License (CSDL) is a 501 (c)(3) non-partisan, not for profit, crime prevention educational public charity, supported by donor contributions from across the United States. CSDL is currently chaired by Cynthia Whitehead.

The slogan, "Working to protect the identity of every American," embodies CSDL's commitment to higher standards for both government and private entities that issue identity credentials, especially state agencies that issue driver's licenses and ID cards. CSDL undertakes research addressing best practices for DMVs, compliance with federal laws, identity fraud prevention and related identity management topics. CSDL continuously collects data from each state and territory motor vehicle agency on their current identity verification and anti-counterfeit measures.

Background on REAL ID Act of 2005
In 2004, the 9/11 Commission report stated: "Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as driver's licenses. Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists" (Cite) National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, p 390 July 26, 2004.

On May 11, 2005, the REAL ID Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. Title Two of the REAL ID Act required the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to set minimum standards for state issued driver's licenses and identification cards use for "official purposes," such as boarding a commercial airplane. The regulations were issued in final form by DHS on May 11, 2008, after then DHS Secretary Chertoff extended the deadline to coincide with the three year lapse before the law was enacted.

The REAL ID Act was quite specific and proscriptive, because Congressional analysis had identified the areas in which the states' rules were absent or weak with regard to preventing imposters, including foreign terrorists, from exploiting those vulnerabilities. The law is binding on the federal government and states that documents which do not meet the standards cannot be accepted by the federal agencies after certain deadlines.  The deadline for state compliance was extended by current DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to January 15, 2013.

SOURCE Coalition for a Secure Driver's License