It’s Not Just a Driver’s License Anymore

The National Association of Court Security Officers, Vol. 1, No. 1 (July 2004), pp. 16-19

Posted: 5 Oct 2012

See all articles by Amitai Etzioni

Amitai Etzioni

The George Washington University

Date Written: July 1, 2004


Every time a Transportation Security Administration, (TSA) agent closely examines my driver’s license, I have a hard time not making one of those wisecracks that gets you into trouble. The reason? I know that driver’s licenses as a means of identification are a joke. Fake ones can still be ordered on the Internet or purchased for about $60 in many cities, and real ones can be obtained fraudulently.

The joke becomes a lot less funny when one recalls that several of the 9/11 hijackers used phony documents to acquire driver‘s licenses, which they used to obtain credit cards, enroll in flight school and purchase airplane tickets. Yet little has been done since then to make driver’s licenses more reliable, despite the fact that they are by far the most commonly used means of identification in the United States -- not just for travel, but also for entering most public building and numerous private ones. As a result, the “no fly” and “selectee” watch lists (used by the TSA to identify passengers who pose threats to airline safety), as well as other security-related databases, are at least partially blinded.

Suggested Citation

Etzioni, Amitai, It’s Not Just a Driver’s License Anymore (July 1, 2004). The National Association of Court Security Officers, Vol. 1, No. 1 (July 2004), pp. 16-19. Available at SSRN:

Amitai Etzioni (Contact Author)

The George Washington University ( email )

2100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Suite 4058
Washington, DC 20037
United States

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