MCLU Blasts Sen. Susan Collins for Pandering to the Bush Administration and Selling Mainers’ Privacy Down the River

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
February 29, 2008 12:00 am

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Portland, ME – The Maine Civil Liberties Union condemned a letter sent by Senator Susan Collins today that attempts to pressure Governor John Baldacci into complying with the federal Real ID Act against the will of the people and legislature of Maine.

“Maine was right to reject Real ID,” said MCLU Executive Director Shenna Bellows. “For Senator Collins to ask the Governor to defy our state law is an insult to Maine’s elected officials – and to ordinary Mainers, whose privacy will be sacrificed to this costly, misguided program.”

Last year Maine passed a law against participating in the federal program, citing its enormous cost and concern about the impact on Mainers’ privacy and civil liberties. The Real ID Act would turn Maine’s driver’s license into a national ID card, facilitate the collection of vast amount of personal information about Maine residents, and expose them to government snooping and identity theft.

Maine was the first state to openly reject the Real ID Act, and 16 other states followed its example in 2007. The Department of Homeland Security has sought to cajole states to comply with the law by offering them an extension of its deadline if they ask for a waiver. Although, as Senator Collins points out in her letter, seeking such a waiver does not necessarily commit a state to complying with Real ID, the Department of Homeland Security has portrayed other states that have requested an extension as submitting to the program.

“It is clear from this letter that Senator Collins is more interested in carrying water for the Department of Homeland Security than protecting the privacy of her constituents,” said Bellows. “Maine’s action last year inspired many other states to reject Real ID. Now is the time for those states to stand together and hold firm, not cave in to bullying from the Bush Administration.”

A copy of the letter is available upon request.

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