TWIC - A Backdoor Real ID Card
TWIC: Transportation Worker Identification Credential

Lowell Rogers has been an engineer on a brownwater tugboat for 23 years. He loves his work, and his employer likes the way Lowell does his job. But starting April 2009, thanks to the Maritime Safety Act, Lowell's employer will have to assume he's a potential terrorist, unless he has a Transportation Worker Identification Credential -- a TWIC card. The TWIC card will require a criminal background check, and will include Smart Card biometric identifiers. It will place sensitive information about Lowell into a centralized government database. Lowell, as an act of patriotism, will refuse to take what he calls "the Mark of the Beast," and his 23-year career will come to an end.

Here's why this matters to you . . .

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants you to have a Real ID card that's very similar to the TWIC card. But DHS is failing to implement the Real ID because state governments are resisting. Twenty one states are refusing to comply with the REAL ID. It's probably the biggest rebellion against the federal government since the Civil War. So what can the DHS do to overcome this rebellion?

They can "pick off the herd" -- hit one industry at a time until so many people have Smart Cards no one is left to resist. Those with the Smart Cards may even begin to think it would be "just" if everyone had one. It's a classic totalitarian strategy, summed up by the German Pastor Martin Niemoller . . .

"...first (they came) for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . .
and by that time there was no one left to speak up."

Lowell Rogers may be among the first that they're "coming for," but he won't be the last. The President has issued a presidential directive, HSD12, aiming to force all federal employees AND CONTRACTORS to carry a Smart Card. This means government employees and contractors will be the first part of the herd they pick-off. There are 1.8 million federal employees, excluding elected officials, the military, and employees of the Postal Service. But it won't end there.

DHS is also attempting to impose Smart Cards on truckers and railroad workers, covering another 3.5 million workers. And the maritime/TWIC portion of the strategy will apply to about 700,000 workers.

If DHS can "come for" these 6 million people, how long before you think they're going to get you too? Preventing this from happening starts with defending Lowell Rogers. He's willing to stand up and resist, at the potential loss of his career. How about you? Please send Congress a message asking them to repeal and defund the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC card).

Part II
TWIC - A Backdoor Real ID Card Congress, through the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), has directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue a biometric transportation security credential to . . . * Any individual with unescorted access to secure areas of facilities and vessels, * Mariners holding Coast Guard issued credentials or qualification documents.
Occupations covered will include longshoreman, truckers, port employees, and employees on ships involved in transporting passengers or Hazardous Materials, or intending to use ports registered with the system. This effectively covers the entire maritime industry, and part of the trucking industry too.

Allegedly, this program was passed to provide greater port security. You've heard the theoretical fables of sneaking a dirty bomb into the country via a trans-Atlantic shipping container. But it's important to understand that that is NOT what this is about. Here's why . . .

Ocean port shipping is called blue-water. But the law is being applied to the brown-water shipping industry -- the inland, domestic waterways (lakes, rivers, and streams). The breadth and reach of TWIC exposes the true nature of the program... It's a backdoor scheme to rope every American into the totalitarian Real ID national ID card. After all, there's never been a terrorist incident in the brown-water portion of the maritime industry, and little reason to believe there ever would be sufficient risk to justify the damage this program will do to the industry.

The TWIC program will deliver a severe blow to the brownwater industry and its employees. As Joel Milton, who works on towing vessels, wrote:

"Many of today's major towing companies had humble origins, getting their start with a single small vessel. Today, an enterprising mariner with his or her own boat has almost no chance."

Ships will need to have their own, compliant "card readers." The American Waterways Operators estimate the cost at $12,000 a piece. And just the brownwater, tugboat industry alone is expected to cough up $40 million for the readers. Somebody is about to make lots of money off this new government mandate.

TWIC is also likely to have a negative effect on an industry that's already having a hard time finding reliable workers. That's because the new law, as enhanced by the bureaucrats at the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) (who shouldn't be writing laws anyway), re-punishes people who've made mistakes in the past and who have already paid their debt to society. Here's how the New York Times put it . . .

"...bad-check writers might reasonably be excluded from working in banks. But this offense should not be disqualifying for port laborers who have gone on to live crime-free lives."

But that's not all. According to section 1572.103 of the TSA's final rule, it appears that fireworks offenses could be permanently disqualifying. And drug-related offenses (surprise, surprise) carry a seven year "unemployment sentence" (or five years following release from prison for felony drug possession). A misleading statement on the TWIC application carries the same seven year penalty. And Lord help the maritime worker who is under warrant or indictment: He or she is disqualified until the charges are dismissed (Innocent until proved guilty? Not in a post-9/11 America.)

Even teenagers are feeling the pinch. A 16-year old girl in Juneau, Alaska, who works a summer job on a small passenger cruise boat, was told by her boss that his margin is too thin -- if he has to install and enforce TWIC, he'll close the business. You can read her desperate note at the Washington Watch blog.

But this bill is also bad news for the bluewater maritime industry. Why? Because it solves nothing. TWIC suffers from the same flaws as all registration schemes...


First, it invades the privacy of law-abiding citizens and greatly increases the odds of identity-theft.

Second, it will also tax them with a new registration fee, and require them to endure government red tape. Here's an example: Industry magazine "Workboat" reported that Hurricane Katrina damaged a Coast Guard regional exam center (REC). 60,000 historical files were damaged and 1,000 applications were lost. The inconvenience and stress of the hurricane and levy failure were bad enough for New Orleans, but now mariners working the Mississippi River had to suffer sleepless nights and repeat the application process, wondering if they would pass a second time.

Third, we can't say ID card schemes do nothing, but they do next to nothing to prevent a terrorist attack. Credentialing is the weakest thing you can do to prevent terrorism, because it fails to deal with the most important issue in preventing crime -- the criminal's motivation. If a terrorist needs a credential to commit their crime, they can obtain it fraudulently, or they can go somewhere else to commit their crime. And once we all have Real IDs, haven't we lost the War on Terror? ...haven't the terrorists changed our unique, American way of life?

Fourth, it adds yet another priority to a priority-laden bureaucracy. Focus is valuable in preventing acts of terror. This government has promoted showy technological "fixes" that might be good for the contractors involved, but that fail to address the underlying problem. When everything is your focus, nothing is your focus. What is the government going to do with the files of 6 million more citizens?

Fifth, it's a reaction based on unnecessary fear. As we point out at our "I Am NOT Afraid" campaign , you have a better chance of drowning in your bathtub or your neighbor's pool, than you do of dying due to the actions of a foreign terrorist attack in the United States. You have about the same odds of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightening, that you do of being killed by a terrorist, here in "the homeland." When will this overreaction -- this willingness to be terrorized -- stop?


Finally, just in case you wonder if they already have maritime credentials, the answer is yes. You don't think the government would leave an industry unregulated, do you? Our government has an opinion or best policy on everything. And the maritime trade is no different. The Merchant Mariner's Document (MMD) has worked fine for a very long time. And the Coast Guard recently revised the program to make the MMD tamper-resistant. Oh, and it also requires a fingerprint, and a background check, and it has a machine readable stripe on the back. So why, exactly, do these workers need TWIC cards? (Qui bono)

The way things stand now mariners are going to have another form to fill out and a new $159 fee to pay -- just to keep a job. Hard working Americans are going to spend their hard earned dollars to prove they're not terrorists. It's a new tax on the working man. A new tax on industry. And an increase in the cost you will pay for the goods and services that are shipped to you. And for what?

You can learn more about TWIC here: Downsize DC

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