National ID may be the answer

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 19, 2006

Cries for the creation of some form of national ID for Americans reached a fever pitch in the days following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Supporters argued that a strict system would help us determine the &8220;good guys&8221; from the &8220;bad guys.&8221;

Critics argued that all of the 19 hijackers had Social Security Numbers &8212; some legal and some not &8212; they used to obtain drivers licenses. Those licenses helped them board airplanes that morning. Apparently, none of the licenses looked suspicious &8212; or not enough to raise a red flag.

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But perhaps the real need for such an ID system is to protect us from ourselves, not from terrorists.

Consider the massive amount of confusion in the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts.

Even now, more than half a year after the water subsided, the Federal Emergency Management Administration is only now beginning to find the errors it made. Millions of dollars were issued to people who did not deserve to receive it.

In February audits from the General Accounting Office and the Department of Homeland Security found more than one third of those who received aid under FEMA&8217;s emergency cash assistance program did so using either duplicate or invalid Social Security Numbers or false addresses and names.

Similar issues arise almost without fail during each election cycle.

Although such a system is not foolproof, perhaps it is something we should consider, even if it&8217;s not for the reason of avoiding terrorists.