The disturbing little note greets you on the brief page of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's Driver and Vehicle Services Web site: http://www.dmv.state.pa.us/idSecurityCenter/realID.shtml.

It says to watch the site for updates because of new rules you'll be required to meet for driver's licenses and identification cards that will be acceptable to the federal Department of Homeland Security.

You now get to watch until Dec. 31 of 2009 to see whether Pennsylvania goes along with possibly the most intrusive federal mandate ever regarding the free movement of United States citizens.

Intrusive -- and obnoxious. Originally the state had until May 11 of this year to implement the Real ID -- without which, Homeland Security warns, you wouldn't be allowed, among other things, into a federal building or on an airplane.

But Pennsylvania along with 26 other states screamed bloody murder over the unfunded mandate -- expected to cost up to $100 million in this state alone -- and raised the hackles of officials from Gov. Ed Rendell to both sides of the aisle in the Legislature.

The growing opposition played no little role in the postponement of the Real ID deadline -- the issue is too hot of a potato in an election year and it's to be hoped a new Congress will see the folly of Homeland Security's zeal and rein in this very real threat to freedom.

In attempting to counter the threat of international terrorism, the government's mandate would create a national identification card holding a wealth of personal information -- also kept in a national database -- that could be used by a myriad of state and federal bureaucrats and private business.


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But smile, because you're also being told to pay for it.

The national ID initiative as it exists codifies a mob reaction to terror -- "security is all" -- reminiscent of that used by dictatorial and other repressive regimes for political and population control since the mid 19th century.

It has no place in a nation where the ideals of expanding individual freedom are held to be paramount. The battle has to be joined in Washington to repeal this curb on our liberties.

It is a fight none of us can afford to lose.