hey, thanks for visiting, here’s your spinal tap

I awoke this morning to the soothing sounds of Tom Ridge. He was introducing our nations new procedures to track visiting foreign nationals. Starting this morning, weve begun fingerprinting and photographing everyone that visits the US, unless theyre from one of the 27 countries we still deem to be relatively safe. (Details concerning this program, called US Visit, can be found on this Department of Homeland Security page.)

Surprisingly, Im not that upset by this. (Im much more upset by the fact that Bush is out on the road trumpeting the progress of his No Child Left Behind initiative, between fundraising events.) Frankly, I think that I probably would have done it a hell of a lot earlier. Maybe my tolerance has just been worn down over the past few years, but I dont really see a problem with biometrics being used to identify people who choose to visit this country. What does concern me, however, is whats coming next.

Ridge mentioned in his address this morning that hed like to see all the nations of the world agree to a standard travel/identification document format that contains some type of biometric identifier, like a fingerprint, and is computer-readable. I suppose its inevitable, but Im afraid thats what were moving toward Im still of the opinion that a person in this country is innocent until proven guilty and giving my fingerprints to anyone just rubs me the wrong way. Its not that I worry about getting caught for something, its just that I think it runs contrary to everything that makes this country of ours great.

Its a tough issue, one that I certainly dont have any solutions for. My hope is that after a vigorous debate, well come to some middle ground thats acceptable to most of us. Perhaps thats too much to ask in todays world, where there seems to be less and less in the way of vigorous debate (unless its debate over whether or not Britney Spears was drunk the other night when she got married in Las Vegas).

If you arent yet, now might be a good time to consider joining the ACLU. After thinking about it for the past two years, I finally gave them my credit card number a few minutes ago.

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