Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary terrorism and homeland security subcommittee has introduced new legislation designed to end the vulnerabilities in the passport issuance process.
The bill, titled "The Passport Identity Verification Act (S. 3666)," would give the Department of State greater legal authority to "access information contained in federal, state and other databases that can be used to verify the identity of every passport applicant, and to detect passport fraud, without extending the time that the State Department takes to approve passports." Cardin’s legislation is cosponsored by senators Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.).
“Because United States passports issued under a false identity enable individuals to conceal their movements and activities, passport fraud could facilitat acts of terrorism, espionage; and other crimes, such as illegal immigration, money laundering, drug trafficking, tax evasion, and alien smuggling,” the draft of the bill states. “Since malicious individuals may seek to exploit potential vulnerabilities in the passport issuance process, it is important that personnel who are involved in the granting, refusal, revocation, or adjudication of United States passport applications have access to certain information contained in Federal, State, and other databases for the purpose of- verifying the identity of a passport applicant; or detecting passport fraud.”
The bill directs The Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, after consultation with the Secretary of State, to implement a system empowering Department of State personnel to have “real-time access to the criminal history information contained in the National Crime Information Center's Interstate Identification Index (NCIC-III), including the corresponding automated criminal history records, Wanted Person Files, and other files maintained by the National Crime Information Center.”