Anyone still naively thinking this nation is not headed towards becoming a police state needs to rethink their position.
Here is the latest example. The United States State Department is proposing changes in required data that must be provided to apply for and receive an United States Passport.
Here is a link to an Acrobat PDF file of the proposed questionnaire posted by the folks at Papers, Please!, who have written about this biographical sweep of a passport application and many other issues related to intrusiveness of government and violations of privacy and civil liberties.
You should open it and read it. And weep for this nation’s decent into tyranny.
Updated paragraph: This replaces paragraph assuming this would be required of everyone, which was in first published version of this diary. When I first posted this, I, and just about every source I read about this, was under the impression that the form as proposed will be a requirement for everyone applying for a passport, not just those without a birth certificate or who must explain what is called a ‘non-institutional birth’ in Section C.
UPDATE 1: It is really not clear on the Federal Register web site whether this is intended for a subset or all applicants. In fact, I have read the following link twice, and find it a perfect example of confusing bureaucratic language: 60-Day Notice of Proposed Information Collection: DS-5513, Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport, 1405-XXXX
Update 2: I did some more research, and managed to find this:
1. The Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport, form DS-5513, is used to supplement an application for a U.S. passport when the applicant submits citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity. Passport Specialists and Consular Officers will use this form to collect additional information to further establish the identity and/or citizenship of a passport applicant who has not submitted adequate evidence with his/her passport application.
By definition, a passport is a travel document issued under the authority of the Secretary of State attesting to the identity and nationality of the bearer (22 C.F.R. 51.1 [e]). An applicant bears the burden of establishing his/her identity and citizenship, and the Department may require an applicant to submit such additional evidence of identity and/or citizenship as it deems to be necessary. 22 C.F.R. §§ 51.23, 51.40, 51.45. The procedures for establishing an applicant’s identity and citizenship are outlined in 22 C.F.R. part 50, subparts B and C.
This is the kind of vague language a bureaucrat loves, and can use to any end desired, if not satisfied with the proof provided. I don’t see anything here specifically referencing the lack of a birth certificate. This is wide open language that can be used and abused at will.
Even as a supplementary request, I still consider it outrageous.
And frankly, give the current trends in our society, this is just a gateway form to test the waters, I suspect, and if you read the reason in the justification document, it is wide open to interpretation, misuse, and abuse.
The end goal for the past decade or more has been to build a surveillance state. The military has actively pursued this again and again. Go and read up on the reference to ‘Total Information Awareness’.
After kicking off with the obligatory request for your name, address, and social security number, the form starts it’s downward spiral with Section B: Information about Your Family (living and deceased).
You are asked to provide the following data: Relationship, Full Name, Place of Birth (City, State, Country), Date of Birth, Is This Person a U.S. Citizen?; for the following list of relatives: Father, Stepfather, Mother, Stepmother, one spouse, six siblings, and two children.
I am disturbed, of course, that this form does not address the 50% divorce rate in America. It should obviously be amended to include room for at least one former spouse, and for many, that will not provide enough space. Frankly, after having reviewed the entire form and its demand for detail from birth to present in all areas, I am shocked, simply shocked I tell you, at this oversight by the designers of this form. I fully expect this to be corrected in the final version.
The next section addresses information required from those who cannot provide a standard birth certificate.
I can understand the heightened concern with verifying someone’s birth if they do not have a standard birth certificate of some sort, but I still have to marvel at questions in Section C: Information for Non-Institutional Births or Delayed Birth Filings, and wonder if the mother’s address before, during, and after the birth isn’t a little bit of overkill. I also have to wonder who would be able to answer detailed questions about the mother’s place of employment, and the names of the doctors attending the birth, and for religious records whether there was a circumcision involved. Seriously, for someone who might be an adult at the time of filing for a passport, I have to wonder if and how much of the fine detail asked for could ever be determined.
Like I said, I can understand the caution with which someone must be handled if they do not have a standard birth certificate of some sort proving their place and time of birth as a qualification for citizenship. After all, we have an insane 25% or so of current citizens who just can’t accept our current President is a natural born citizen, despite the clear existence of a Hawaiian birth certificate, newspaper announcements, etc. Who knows, maybe the impetus for this form is coming from a group of “Birthers” in the State Department.
But let’s move on to the rest of the questionnaire. It just gets worse. This is not an application. This is an inquisition.
Please list all of your residences inside and outside of the United States starting with your birth until the present.
This page requires information including Street City State Zip Code Country Time of Residence for each residence.
Good luck with that. After six decades of life, I am not sure I could answer this question.
Next, your total, complete employment record. Since birth.
Please list all of your current and former places of employment in the United States and abroad.
And include the following: Company Name Address Country Time Employed Supervisor Telephone.
Next up, your school attendance history.
Please list all schools that you attended inside and outside of the United States.
And include the following: Name of School Address City State Country Dates of School Attendence.
You have to just love the Paperwork Reduction Act statement at the end of the document.
Public reporting burden for this collection of information is estimated to average 45 minutes per response, including the time required for searching
existing data sources, gathering the necessary data, providing the information and/or documents required, and reviewing the final collection.
Raise your hand if you think you could come up with all of the information above and complete this form in just 45 minutes.
But that is not the issue.
Is this nation ready to deny a passport to its nation’s citizens if they are not ready to share the address and name of supervisor(s) for every job in a fast food joint or a grocery store they had when they were teenagers?
These requirements are intrusive, unnecessary, and just one more example of the stripping away of privacy and rights of citizens in this nation, for the sake of Total Information Awareness, and the building and mining of databases on citizens and all their actions.
The issue is just how far down the road to a police state this nation is headed. At what point are the American people going to wake up and realize that we are becoming the caricature of 20th Century totalitarian states like those Germany and Russia, and our lives have become scenes out of old movies from the period, in which sinister police and government secret police demand of us: “Show me your papers, please.”