The State under siege or is it the people? By William Bowles

27 June 2005

Clause 1 and Schedule 1 of the proposed National Identity Bill sets out more than fifty categories of information required for the register (subject to change by regulation):

  • Name
  • Other previous names or aliases;
  • Date and place of birth and, if the person has died, the date of death;
  • Address
  • Previous addresses in the United Kingdom and elsewhere;
  • Times of residency at different places in the United Kingdom or elsewhere;
  • Current residential status;
  • Residential statuses previously held;
  • Information about numbers allocated to the applicant for identification purposes and about the documents to which they relate;
  • Information about occasions on which recorded information in the Register has been provided to any person;
  • Information recorded in the Register on request.
  • Photograph
  • Fingerprints
  • “Other” biometrics (iris recognition);
  • Signature
  • Nationality;
  • Entitlement to remain in the United Kingdom; and
  • Where entitlement derives from a grant of leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom, the terms and conditions of that leave.
  • National Identity Registration Number;
  • The number of any ID card that has been issued;
  • National Insurance number;
  • The number of any relevant immigration document;
  • The number of any United Kingdom passport (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971 (c. 77)) that has been issued;
  • The number of any passport issued by or on behalf of the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom or by or on behalf of an international organisation;
  • The number of any document that can be used (in some or all circumstances) instead of a passport;
  • The number of any identity card issued by the authorities of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom;
  • Any reference number allocated by the Secretary of State in connection with an application made for permission to enter or to remain in the United Kingdom;
  • The number of any work permit (within the meaning of the Immigration Act 1971);
  • Any driver number connected to a driving licence;
  • The number of any designated document which is held by the applicant that is a document the number of which does not fall within any of the preceding sub-paragraphs;
  • The date of expiry or period of validity of a document the number of which is recorded by virtue of this paragraph.
  • The date of every application for registration;
  • The date of every application for a modification of the contents of his entry;
  • The date of every application confirming the contents of his entry (with or without changes);
  • The reason for any omission from the information recorded in his entry;
  • Particulars (in addition to its number) of every ID card issued;
  • Whether each such card is in force and, if not, why not;
  • Particulars of every person who has countersigned an application for an ID card or a designated document;
  • Particulars of every notification given by the applicant for the purposes of regulations under section 13(1) (lost, stolen and damaged ID cards etc.);
  • Particulars of every requirement by the Secretary of State for the individual to surrender an ID card issued to the applicant.
  • The information provided in connection with every application to be entered in the Register, for a modification of the contents of entry in the Register or for the issue of an ID card;
  • Information provided in connection with every application confirming entry in the Register (with or without change;
  • Particulars of the steps taken, in connection with an application mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b) or otherwise, for identifying the applicant or for verifying the information provided in connection with the application;
  • Particulars of any other steps taken or information obtained (otherwise than in connection with an application mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b)) for ensuring that there is a complete, up-to-date and accurate entry about that individual in the Register;
  • Particulars of every notification given by that individual for the purposes of section 12.
  • A personal identification number to be used for facilitating the making of applications for information recorded in his entry, and for facilitating the provision of the information;
  • A password or other code to be used for that purpose or particulars of a method of generating such a password or code;
  • Questions and answers to be used for identifying a person seeking to make such an application or to apply for or to make a modification of that entry.
  • Particulars of every occasion on which information contained in the individual’s entry has been provided to a person;
  • Particulars of every person to whom such information has been provided on such an occasion;Other particulars, in relation to each such occasion, of the provision of the information.

The Security State
Not since the 1920s has the capitalist state been so threatened but ironically not by revolution but by its own complete lack of creditability. On every front its actions are being questioned as never before, whether its actions in far-off lands or its domestic policies.

Yet those who formulate the propaganda that maintains the increasingly fragile legitimacy of the State’s right to rule continue as if it’s ‘business as usual’.

Here in the UK for example, the government’s plan to create a national database on its citizens, the proposed (and misnamed) National ID card legislation now in its third iteration, is in serious trouble as it comes up for its second reading in Parliament this week.

Every reason used to justify the creation of an ID Card and even the construction of a national database on citizens have been shown to be false:

Benefit Fraud
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions, Chris Pond MP, confirmed that false identity represented a tiny fraction of the benefit fraud problem. He said his Department advised that of the estimated £2 billion total annual benefit fraud, £50 million came from people not being who they said they were when making a claim.

It is likely that the cost to government of establishing a new ID infrastructure for benefits would amount to many times the annual loss through false identity.

Prevention of Terrorism
In 2004 Privacy International published the findings of the only research ever conducted on the relationship between identity cards and terrorism. It found that there was no evidence to support the claim that identity cards can combat terrorist threats.

The report stated: “The presence of an identity card is not recognised by analysts as a meaningful or significant component in anti-terrorism strategies.”

Identity Theft
There is…a substantial body of evidence to show that the establishment of centralised identity can increase the incidence of identity theft.The clearest example of this relationship exists in the United States, where the Social Security Number has become an identity hub and a central reference point to index and link identity. Obtaining a person’s SSN provides a single interface with that person’s dealings with a vast number of private and public bodies. Hence the level of identity theft in the US is extremely high.

I can personally attest to this as my identity was stolen by a certain Mrs Gonzales in the Bronx when I lived in the US who used my Social Security Number.

Can an ID card be forged?
Yes.

The crying shame of the situation however, is that it’s not being challenged on questions of principle but on the question of its cost, now in all likelihood to run to as much as £18 billion according to a study just released by the London School of Economics! Each ‘card’ could set back every British citizen over the age of 16 as much as £300, and a compulsorary charge no less! I for one, have pledged not to get one even if means being tossed in jail. I challenge every right thinking person to join me.

WTI

With the Tories and Liberal Democrats set to vote against it this Wednesday (again, not on principle but on cost and ‘practicality’), it will be the first real test of the alleged left-wing of the Labour government, for together their votes could defeat the bill. Or will the ‘left’ consider that citizens’ rights are less important than the creation of the corporate, security state (and their own, miserable jobs)? Don’t hold your breath on this one…

Ultimately, the ‘ID Card’ is about building the security state and has absolutely nothing to do with terrorism, crime, benefit fraud, or the other alleged reasons for forcing every British citizen to have one. In reality it’s an acknowledgement by the State that it cannot trust its own citizens to support an illegitimate state.

Some valuable resources on the Big Lie that is the ID Card

The Identity Card Frequently Asked Questions

and Background and analysis provided by Privacy International

The government’s own ‘Regulatory Impact Statement’ is worth reading.

A State of War Criminals
So too, the ‘debate’ around the illegal invasion of Iraq, itself clearly a war crime of horrendous dimensions, comparable in its ferocity to Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939 (worse in fact because the invasion was preceded by months of secret bombing of the country on a daily basis, most of it being carried out by the British government), sees the corporate press still maintaining the state’s fictional accounts (when it’s not simply ignoring the facts).

Even as the occupation unravels at a rate of knots, we see the ‘liberal’ Independent still peddling the same state-sponsored lies. For example, the Independent had a ‘news’ item (25/6/05, p.2) on ‘insurgency’ in Iraq headed “One year after sovereignty restored, nation is in crisis” which goes on to tell us that

the government’s most determined enemies [are] Islamic extremists.

How a country under occupation can be assumed to be “sovereign” is not explained. Those who resist occupation are, it is assumed “Islamic extremists”, yet there is not a shred of evidence to authenticate this assumption. The piece goes on to tell us that “insurgents have killed at least 1,245 … Iraqi civilians” without informing us that many of those killed are in fact puppet troops or police. The allegation is not merely an assumption but a lie. And of course as per usual, the number of Iraqis murdered by the occupation gets not a mention.

Wholesale destruction of Iraqi towns and their inhabitants is described as “counter-insurgency sweeps” and so on and so forth. At every stage, the reality of imperial power is sanitised by the media.

The BBC has simply halted any kind of meaningful coverage of the occupation entirely, limiting its ‘news’ to ‘suicide’ bombers and the odd interview with the usual suspects from right-wing ‘think tanks’.

As to the so-called Downing Street Memos, the media here is still just ignoring it as if in so doing, somehow it will go away. The scale of the deception by the media is breathtaking in its scope yet it’s not merely the complicity by the media in the deception taking place but the self-deception that is so revealing of the media’s central role in maintaining the state’s power. Power that exists only because people believe that it cannot be fundamentally challenged.

As those who follow the coverage here of the BBC’s cover-up of the Downing Street Cabinet Minutes, the latest MediaLens piece is very illuminating on this issue detailing the nature of the language used to justify the slaughter being carried out in the name of our alleged civilisation. In spite of the innumerable statements made by various government ministers and other employees of the state eg:

“What’s important for people to understand is that war is not inevitable.” (‘War with Iraq not inevitable – Straw,’ January 6, 2003, 12:19 GMT; news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2630155.stm)

Responding to comments made by an unnamed government source suggesting that the prospect of conflict had receded from a 60:40 likelihood of conflict to a 60:40 likelihood of peace, Straw commented: “I think that’s a reasonably accurate description.” (ibid)

“We backed regime change, but the plan had to be clever and failure was not an option. It would be a tough sell for us domestically.”Sir Christopher Meyer, the British ambassador to the United States, March 18, 2002 memo

The BBC continues to operate as if none of these statements have been made. Indeed, last week on BBC’s Radio 4 ‘Today’ programme, in a rare piece on the Cabinet Minutes we heard the state’s propagandists reiterating the line that ‘isn’t it time to move on?’. In other words, ‘okay, so what if it was all done on the basis of a gigantic lie, it’s a done deal, and anyway, what are you going to do about it?’. The sheer arrogance of these apologists for the imperium is absolutely staggering.

The fact is that what we have witnessed these past three years is but a continuation of the endless line of Big Lies constructed by the state and its partners in crime, the media. And although the advent of the Web has forced some sections of the media to acknowledge that all is not as it seems, until such time as we can not only reach significant sections of the population but more importantly offer a real alternative, it matters little that their lies are exposed for they can simply ignore what are still cries in the wilderness of the Web. Exposing the media’s complicity is merely the first step.

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