About half of all American states essentially refused to comply with the federal government’s so-called REAL ID scheme, a deeply controversial plot to create national identification cards through the back door. Florida was not one of the states to nullify the power grab. Now, though, Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor, has entered the next phase in his plan to bring down what he calls an unconstitutional and dangerous federal plan that must be stopped.
“It is absolutely Orwellian,” he says, adding that the national ID plot is all about control. “Unless we fight this, we will never know privacy or freedom of travel in America again.” Aside from the constitutional problems — the federal government has no authority under the U.S. Constitution to meddle with drivers’ licenses or issue mandates about them to states — the Big Brother component is deeply troubling, Wyllie explains.
“The federal government wants control over all aspects of our daily lives, and is using the several states as their foot soldiers to accomplish it,” he tells The New American. “We already know that they collect staggering amounts of information on every American, every day. They monitor our phone calls, our emails, and our internet activity.”
REAL ID, though, will make the surveillance regime even more Orwellian, giving the feds “additional tools to monitor and restrict our travels as well,” says the insurgent gubernatorial contender. “The facial recognition biometric data collected from the new drivers’ license ‘photos’ are being integrated with government surveillance and street-level cameras throughout Florida, and likely in other states as well.”
The potential for abuse is massive. “These computer systems have the capability of identifying your face automatically through the windshield of your vehicle in a fraction of a second as you pass by them at highway speed,” he says, echoing widespread concerns among privacy and civil-liberties activists.
For Wyllie, enough is enough. After battling the national ID scheme for almost three years, the father and small-business owner was arrested earlier this month for driving without a license. It was all part of the plan, however.
When he realized what was going on with REAL ID — a federal mandate passed in 2005 purporting to set national “standards” for state drivers’ licenses, and much more — Wyllie knew he had to do something. So, he proudly surrendered his license in May of 2011, and then called various law enforcement agencies to inform them of his actions.
The next month, he received a ticket, and was eventually fined $116 for driving without a valid license. He took it to court — media and supporters in tow — but was unsuccessful the first time around. Apparently a simple traffic ticket would not be enough to stop REAL ID. He decided to keep driving anyway, hoping to eventually be caught and brought before a court, where his effort might be more successful in front of a jury of his peers.
The idea behind getting arrested, Wyllie said about his one-man campaign to stop REAL ID, is to have the judicial branch strike down the federal scheme entirely. “My civil disobedience provided the potential opportunity to have the law ruled unconstitutional in court,” he says, adding that he could not in good conscience ask others to fight the federal ID scheme if he was not willing to put himself at risk to do it as well. “Because I was finally arrested in early May for driving with no valid license, I now have the legal standing to mount that court challenge.”
At his upcoming arraignment hearing, scheduled for June 4 in Pinellas County, Florida, Wyllie plans to plead “Not Guilty” on constitutional grounds, he explains. He will also be demanding a jury trial to ensure that his case is heard by fellow citizens with the power to judge the law. If all goes as planned, the hope is that REAL ID will be dead — at least in Florida, which would then join the wide array of states all across the country that have nullified the scheme or refused to implement it thus far.
“We want to set a legal precedent that REAL ID is unconstitutional, which would force the state legislature's hand to repeal it,” he says. “We can then return to the way Florida issued drivers’ licenses prior to 2010, without requiring the unnecessary personal documentation, without the massive Homeland Security data collection, and without biometric scanning and tracking of all Floridians.”
Of course, getting arrested to have standing in court was not his first bid to stop the scheme. “I have been fighting this battle on many fronts,” he says. “I've lobbied for state legislation to repeal REAL ID in the 2011, 2012, and 2013 legislative sessions.”
Groups such as Floridians Against REAL ID “have been instrumental in getting legislation introduced,” he says. “But, despite making progress, we couldn't get a repeal bill passed through the state legislature.” Wyllie has also worked hard to educate his fellow Floridians on the dangers and privacy implications through the media and as chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida.
The Army/Florida National Guard veteran’s mission all started with a phone call from his mother in 2011. She told Wyllie about her trip to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV), where she had tried unsuccessfully to renew her license.
Because of the federal REAL ID mandates, more documents and information would be needed, she was told. The bureaucrat even warned her that without a REAL ID-compliant license, she would not be able to board an airplane.
That call inspired Wyllie to start investigating the federal scheme for 1787 Radio Network, and he began an investigative series of reports for the five stations that carried the show. “I was extremely concerned about what I found,” he says. “I reported on the additional source documentation we are now required to submit, the national database into which those documents are scanned, the use of the biometric facial recognition database and surveillance systems, and the fact that all of this is being managed by the Department of Homeland Security.”
It became clear that “this was absolutely a national ID card, and was even more egregious than I had anticipated,” Wyllie says. “Somewhere during the course of my investigation, I decided I could not willingly comply, and that I had to do more than simply report on it.”
Eventually, those efforts culminated with his arrest this month, which he hopes will bring the whole scheme crashing down in the Sunshine State. As a side benefit, the plan has earned him a decent amount of media coverage in Florida, too, helping to educate Floridians about the threat while boosting his name recognition ahead of the election.
Obviously, though, being arrested and forced to fight against REAL ID in court was not the preferred option — even if it may be one of the few potential remaining avenues to fight it in Florida. “Ideally, Congress would repeal it,” he says, adding that state nullification and citizens ignoring it could also be viable options.
The prospect of repeal by lawmakers in Washington, D.C., however, appears remote — especially because it was passed by a Republican Congress (buried in an unrelated bill), and the establishment wing of both parties seems to love Big Brother. “President Obama and Democrats in Congress also fully embrace the surveillance state, and they have worked to force states to implement Real ID mandates,” Wyllie says.
In Florida, the unconstitutional federal ID scheme was foisted upon citizens by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, a former Big Government-RINO Republican who is now running as a Democrat after losing his bid for the Senate. “It is typical of the rampant corruption and malfeasance in both the Republican and Democrat political establishment in Florida,” Wyllie says.
“Our elected officials rarely — if ever — uphold their Oath of Office,” he adds. “As soon as the federal government comes to bribe state governments with some federal funding, our leaders will unflinchingly sell Floridians' unalienable rights to them. Both [Gov. Rick] Scott and Crist have unclean hands in this regard.”
Nullification, though, is still a good option in many areas of the country, where politicians may still have the fortitude to reject unconstitutional usurpations of power and taxpayer-funded bribes from the Beltway establishment. “Despite the federal government pressure, many states have already rejected it,” Wyllie says.
“If the majority of the states repeal or refuse to implement Real ID, it will eventually die on the vine and essentially be nullified,” the libertarian continues. He also encourages citizens in REAL ID-compliant states to battle the federal scheme as well, pointing out how much the Founding Fathers sacrificed for liberty.
The controversial mandates and national ID scheme has attracted fury from across the political spectrum, with libertarian, conservative, and liberal groups all united in opposition. About 25 states officially oppose it. From the Cato Institute to the ACLU, meanwhile, criticism of the plot remains fierce. However, thanks to unconstitutional federal bribes, even some of the states that originally nullified or rejected REAL ID have been quietly moving forward with the plot.
“If the United States is to avoid having a national ID, all states should cease implementation of REAL ID, the federal government should stop funding REAL ID efforts, and Congress should repeal this unwanted national ID law,” explained Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute and author of the book Identity Crisis: How Identification Is Overused and Misunderstood.
REAL ID was not the only reason Wyllie, who describes himself as “just a middle-class American who is fed up with politicians destroying our Republic,” decided to put life on hold and run for governor. It is, however, a “a good example of why we must clean house in our state government, and break up the two-party duopoly in order to restore liberty.”
If elected, he says he would do “absolutely everything in my power to block all usurpations by the federal government, and all violations of Floridians' constitutional rights.” If that means “arresting and charging federal agents that overstep their lawful authority, so be it,” he adds.
While he initially put his odds of ending up in the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee at 100 to one, Wyllie is more hopeful now, citing polls that show him as high as 17 percent and the more than 1,000 dedicated campaign volunteers from both the Right and Left. “Today, this is a true three-way race, and it will only take 34% of the vote to win,” he says, adding that he will participate in a major upcoming debate.
Wyllie’s trial date is expected to be set early next month at the arraignment hearing. He says he is “happy” to have the opportunity to fight REAL ID in court on behalf of all Floridians — and many Sunshine State residents are delighted by his efforts.
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at
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