EDITORIAL: Seeking safety

19 years after 9/11 attacks, are new measures needed?

America’s airports have asked for a delay in the implementation of new identification documents that comply with anti-terrorism legislation. They warn of mass chaos and flight delays if the full use of Real ID-compliant identification is required beginning Oct. 1, as scheduled.

By then, 19 years — nearly two full decades — will have passed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and another target that was spared when the airliner that was intended to hit it crashed in a Pennsylvania field. With no significant terrorist attacks in this country since then, some might ask if additional measures are still needed.

We’d expect, however, that those who ask such questions are far outnumbered by those who take solace in the idea that our government is at least doing something to keep us safe.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. The act requires that all new forms of government identification —driver’s licenses, passports, personal and military IDs, etc. — must provide specific information such as full legal name, address, photograph and other information. In order to issue the IDs, offices had to review supporting documents such as birth certificates, proof of legal residency, proof of address, Social Security number and other information. All that information is placed in a database that is connected to all other state and federal identification banks.

On Oct. 1, 2020, inspectors for the Transportation Security Administration — which already has been the target

of widespread complaints regarding mistreatment and delays — must also ensure that all documents presented to them comply with Real ID mandates.

People who fly or sail to or from other countries must have compliant passports. Trusted Traveler Program cards issued to frequent border crossers, such as SENTRI, FAST and NEXUS, should comply as well.

Most states, including Texas, already are issuing compliant documents as old card expire, but not all of the old cards have expired yet. The Airports Council International-North America says just 34% of all ID cards being used to day are Real ID compliant, meaning up to two-thirds of travelers risk being delayed or denied passage because they haven’t received the revised cards or passports.

This far removed from the attacks, one would hope that the initial panic that led to many of these impositions on our freedoms and mobility might have subsided, especially since no new terrorism has occurred in the past 18 years. However, many Americans have become conditioned to accept such impositions as a simple nuisance, rather than a curtailment of our freedoms. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t see the star on an ID card or who has any doubts if their documents are Real ID compliant should check with the agency that issued the document, and ask for a renewal if necessary.

That might not speed up the process at airports where TSA inspectors must screen the documents more closely, but it will help ensure that a person eventually will be cleared to board a plane or enter the country.

America’s airports have asked for a delay in the implementation of new identification documents that comply with anti-terrorism legislation. They warn of mass chaos and flight delays if the full use of Real ID-compliant identification is required beginning Oct. 1, as scheduled.

By then, 19 years — nearly two full decades — will have passed since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, the Pentagon, and another target that was spared when the airliner that was intended to hit it crashed in a Pennsylvania field. With no significant terrorist attacks in this country since then, some might ask if additional measures are still needed.

We’d expect, however, that those who ask such questions are far outnumbered by those who take solace in the idea that our government is at least doing something to keep us safe.

Congress passed the Real ID Act in 2005, in reaction to the 9/11 attacks. The act requires that all new forms of government identification —driver’s licenses, passports, personal and military IDs, etc. — must provide specific information such as full legal name, address, photograph and other information. In order to issue the IDs, offices had to review supporting documents such as birth certificates, proof of legal residency, proof of address, Social Security number and other information. All that information is placed in a database that is connected to all other state and federal identification banks.

On Oct. 1, 2020, inspectors for the Transportation Security Administration — which already has been the target of widespread complaints regarding mistreatment and delays — must also ensure that all documents presented to them comply with Real ID mandates.

People who fly or sail to or from other countries must have compliant passports. Trusted Traveler Program cards issued to frequent border crossers, such as SENTRI, FAST and NEXUS, should comply as well.

Most states, including Texas, already are issuing compliant documents as old card expire, but not all of the old cards have expired yet. The Airports Council International-North America says just 34% of all ID cards being used to day are Real ID compliant, meaning up to two-thirds of travelers risk being delayed or denied passage because they haven’t received the revised cards or passports.

This far removed from the attacks, one would hope that the initial panic that led to many of these impositions on our freedoms and mobility might have subsided, especially since no new terrorism has occurred in the past 18 years. However, many Americans have become conditioned to accept such impositions as a simple nuisance, rather than a curtailment of our freedoms. Therefore, anyone who doesn’t see the star on an ID card or who has any doubts if their documents are Real ID compliant should check with the agency that issued the document, and ask for a renewal if necessary.

That might not speed up the process at airports where TSA inspectors must screen the documents more closely, but it will help ensure that a person eventually will be cleared to board a plane or enter the country.