Papiere, bitte!

Sebastian at Snowflakes in Hell points us to a disturbing proposal by the Dept of State.

The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for some passport applicants: The proposed new  Form DS-5513 asks for all addresses since birth; lifetime employment history including employers’ and supervisors names, addresses, and telephone numbers; personal details of all siblings; mother’s address one year prior to your birth; any “religious ceremony” around the time of birth; and a variety of other information.  According to the proposed form, “failure to provide the information requested may result in … the denial of your U.S. passport application.”

As Tam notes in her comment: “I couldn’t even tell you how many jobs or addresses I’ve had since I graduated high school, let alone give details about them…”

That’s not even counting some of the other stuff. Unless I ask her or Dad, I wouldn’t even know where to start finding out my mother’s address one year prior to my birth. Finding my supervisors’ names and contact information is a major PITA even just over a 5 year span, never mind every one for every employer I’ve ever had – some of which have been out of business for nearly two decades. I’d have to hire a private investigator to find some of that information!

As another commenter there notes:

As I recall from doing both, that’s more information than you are required to provide to get a Secret clearance in the military or apply to join the FBI.

Or to be President 😉

He adds the last in a tongue-in-cheek manner, but I honestly think that it’s completely correct. The State Department wants to require more information from you to let you leave the country than is required to be elected to the highest position in the federal government.

Think about how wrong that is.


Update: There’s an interesting comment at the Consumer Traveler article that adds a new dimension to this issue:

I plead the 5th on answering any more of the question, because it is illegal for me to know the answer, and therefore I would be incriminating myself.

If only I were joking. Prior to this, many adoptees who hadn’t gotten their passports prior to 9/11 have been unable to get one (and sometimes even a driver’s license, depending on the state). Now, every single adopted or fostered person will be in the same boat.

[The same person, in a separate comment]

But I’m just an adoptee, […] It’s actually illegal for me to know the information being requested. So if I answer the questions, I’m incriminating myself. If I don’t, I can’t get a passport. [emphasis mine]

Will there be an exemption for someone who is adopted, and is legally barred from obtaining the required information?

You know, I always try to apply Hanlon’s Razor to things like this, but I find myself more and more often reminded of Grey’s Law: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.”

We have passed the point where I honestly can’t tell the difference anymore.

[Source: Consumer Traveler article online, retrieved 4/25/11]

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