Your Papers, Please

Jim Harper is the Director of Information Policy Studies at the Cato Institute; he's also a member of the Department of Homeland Security's Data Privacy and Integrity Advisory Committee. At a meeting of that committee last Wednesday, he accepted a challenge from John Gilmore (issued to the entire committee) to fly home without showing official government identification to airport security screeners.

The story of his epic battle to return home is here at the Wired website. Spoiler: in a massive anticlimax, Jim gave himself over two hours to clear security; he wound up getting through without much hassle and with two hours to kill waiting for his plane, no doubt making Gilmore's head spin at yet another inexplicable failure of American Fascism to display itself.

Jim Harper has a book on the issue of increased demands for identification in America post-9/11. His general point is well-taken: over-reliance on demands for "official" ID is odious in a free society and probably a misallocation of scarce security resources that makes us less safe. However, guys like Gilmore often seem more worried about the government than the actual bad guys. I find that misguided and tedious.