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Transportation Worker Identification Credential Is Step Toward Implementing Real ID Act

Monday, September 29, 2008 by: Barbara L. Minton
Tags: Real ID Act, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) The Department of Homeland Security has recently announced that the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) compliance and enforcement date for the Coast Guard's Lower Mississippi River Captain of the Port Zone will be Dec. 30, 2008. If you don't know what TWIC is, it's not surprising, since efforts have been made to keep you in the dark unless you need access to port facilities. This is because TWIC is the baby step that if successful will eventually lead to full implementation if the Real ID national indentification card.

TWIC is a biometric transportation security credential developed in accordance with the legislative provisions of the Maritime Transportation Security Act and the SAFE Port Act. Any individual with unescorted access to secure areas or facilities and vessels, and mariners holding Coast Guard issued credentials or qualification documents is being required to get this card.

Occupations covered will include longshoreman, truckers, port employees, and employees on ships involved in transporting passengers or hazardous materials, or intending to use ports registered with the system. This Congressionally supported initiative effectively covers the entire maritime industry and part of the trucking industry.

TWIC was sold under the guise of providing greater port security in a time when some Americans are prone to suspect a bomb in every shipping container. But this is not what TWIC is about.

Jim Babka, president of Downsize DC explains that, "Ocean port shipping is called blue-water. But the law is being equally applied to the brown-water shipping industry -- the inland, domestic waterways (lakes, rivers, and streams)." He points out that there has never been a terrorist incident in the brown-water portion of the shipping industry, and there is no reason to believe there would be sufficient risk to justify the damage done to the maritime industry by the program.

And the damage to the industry will be severe, predicts those who work on towing vessels. A mariner with his or her own boat has almost no chance to survive because the boat will need to be equipped with its own card reader which has an estimated cost of $12,000 each. Compliance in the brown water tugboat industry alone is expected to be $40 million for the readers alone.

The program which will ultimately have millions of port, airline, truck and transport workers carrying the TWIC card has lingered in development since 2003. It was fast tracked by Secretary Michael Chertoff in early 2006 with the date for final compliance is now set for April 15, 2009.

There are worries that TWIC smart cards, using a personal identification number and requiring insertion into the readers, won't properly work in the harsh, salty air of marine environments.

Technical problems have slowed enrollments in the program, particularly the inability of the biometric scanners to accurately record and process enrollee fingerprint templates. In some ports, as many as 8 percent of enrollees cannot complete enrollment due to fingerprinting issues. Incorrect information of the cards, darkened photos, expiration date errors, and failure of the security features to print have added to the frustration.

Some applicants wait for several hours at enrollment centers, and others report having to visit centers repeatedly for up to six visits. About 490,000 workers have pre-enrolled for the TWIC, 460,000 are fully enrolled and 283,000 cards have been issued.

Lockheed Martin Corporation was awarded a 70 million dollar contract to provide the cards.

The TWIC program appears to be a test case in a program that has striking similarities to the National Animal Identification System, the attempt to register and tag all livestock species and premises. Compliance to this program is cost prohibitive for small farmers and riddled with problems. Both programs make inroads in the establishment of the invasive surveillance state, characterized by the Read ID and are an affront to the Constitution by the curtailment of freedom and privacy.

Sources:

"DHS announces TWIC compliance information" Coast Guard News

Alice Lipowicz "More Woes for TWIC", Washington Technology

"TWIC - A Backdoor Real ID Card, Downsize DC

Alice Lipowicz "Panel Finds TWIC Riddled with Problems, FCW.Com

About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.

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