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State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaireâ€￾

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State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaireâ€￾

Postby Mr S » April 30th, 2011, 7:01 pm

If this succeeds to pass as law and sets the standard for new requirements when applying for a passport, it will fully expose the ruse that America is a "free" country. The government is increasingly making it more and more difficult for American citizens to leave the country without government approval. I suggest anyone on this board who is thinking of leaving better get out within the next few years or I think your gonna get stuck...

If they pass this law and I start reading people are having difficulty obtaining passports I'm gonna find another country to get second citizenship in. IT will have to happen because I'm not going to be forced to have to return back to the USA because the government refuses to renew my passport because I can't find my f***ing address where I lived at 1 year old. (BTW, f**k you all you fascist, commie American government Bureaucrats) At least I have until 2017 to see what happens, but it's getting scary guys; the government has something planned for average Americans in the coming years... ... pplicants/

State Dept. proposes “Biographical Questionnaireâ€￾ for passport applicants

The U.S. Department of State is proposing a new Biographical Questionnaire for 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 ceremonyâ€￾ 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.â€￾

The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form.

The proposed “Biographical Questionnaireâ€￾ follows the introduction in December 2010 of a new Form DS-11 for all passport applicants. It seems likely that only some, not all, applicants will be required to fill out the new questionnaire, but no criteria have been made public for determining who will be subjected to these additional new written interrogatories.

It’s not clear from the supporting statement, statement of legal authorities, or regulatory assessment submitted by the State Department to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) why declining to discuss one’s siblings or to provide the phone number of your first supervisor when you were a teenager working at McDonalds would be a legitimate basis for denial of a passport to a U.S. citizen.

The State Department is accepting comments for OMB on this proposal on this proposal for 60 days, which began February 24, 2010, and thus should run through April 25, 2011. (Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, OMB must approve and assign an OMB control number before any new form can be used.) Details and instructions for submitting comments are in the Federal Register notice (also available here as a PDF):

You may submit comments by any of the following methods:

Mail (paper, disk, or CD-ROM submissions): Alexys Garcia, U.S. Department of State, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Room 3031, Washington, DC 20037
Fax: 202-736-9202
Hand Delivery or Courier: Alexys Garcia, U.S. Department of State, 2100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Room 3031, Washington, DC 20037

You must include the DS form number [DS-5513], information collection title [Biographical Questionnaire for U.S. Passport], and OMB control number [none yet assigned; 1405-XXXX requested by Dept. of State] in any correspondence.

Alternatively, you can submit comments online at until midnight EDT on Monday, April 25, 2011. Go here, then click the “Submit a Commentâ€￾ button at the upper right of the page.

(Note that the proposed form itself was not published in the Federal Register. We were eventually provided with a copy after requesting it from the Department of State, and have posted it here.)

We’ve submitted comments, and we encourage others to do so as well.

Our comments (PDF) were co-signed by the Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights (CFPHR), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), Privacy Activism, Consumer Travel Alliance (CTA), Robert Ellis Smith, and John Gilmore. If you would like to use these for ideas for comments of your own, here’s a version in OpenOffice format for easier editing.

You can view the comments docketed to date here. (There’s sometimes a delay of up to several days before comments are docketed, so don’t panic if you don’t see yours immediately.)

Extra points to the person who gives the best answer in the comments to the question, “â€￾Please describe the circumstances of your birth including the names (as well as address and phone number, if available) of persons present or in attendance at your birth.â€￾

[P.S. - To those who have been wondering if this is a hoax: We understand that it may seem fishy that the State Department chose to publish a notice in the Federal Register that it was proposing a new form, but didn't publish the proposed form itself in the Federal Register. But that was their choice of how to proceed, not ours. We were sent the proposed Form DS-5513 in March, in response to our request, by the person identified in the Federal Register notice as the point of contact from whom it could be obtained: Alexys Garcia,, 212-736-9216. We immediately published the form we received from the State Department here on our website. There's more at the links in the sidebar on who we are and how to contact us, as well as links to press reports on our previous work and current projects. You can also check out the other co-signers of the comments we submitted to the State Department. We're for real, and so is this proposal from the State Department. We wish this were a hoax, but it's not.] ... tionnaire/

State Dept. already using illegal passport questionnaire

The most frequently asked question in the ongoing discussion about the State Department’s proposed new “Biographical Questionnaireâ€￾ for (some) passport applicants has been, “Is this a hoax?â€￾

We wish this were a joke, but it’s for real. The proposed Form DS-5513 that we published is the one we and others who requested it received from the State Department’s designated contact for the proposal.

The second most frequently asked question about this proposal is, “Why is the State Department doing this?â€￾

We think we’ve found the answer: The State Department is already using a version of this form, illegally, without OMB approval, and has probably been doing so for several years. The point of the current proposal is to try to regularize and give legal cover to an ongoing and clearly illegal practice — and, while they are at it, to make the current form even worse.

We’ve been reading through more than 3000 comments submitted by the public to the State Department on the last day before the deadline to object, as well as those other commenters have posted on their own websites. The docket clerks are still processing the backlog of last-minute submissions, so we don’t know the total count yet. Only those submitted through the website show up in the online docket; others were submitted by email.

The key evidence was in the attachments to the comments submitted by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, whose members include directors of (outbound) academic study-abroad programs in the US as well as advisors to (inbound) foreign students at US institutions. You can read more about NAFSA and their comments on the passport questionnaire on their own website here.

According to NAFSA, some passport applicants have already been sent a five-page “Supplemental Worksheetâ€￾ (it’s also included as the last five pages of the NAFSA comments and attachments) that includes many of the exact same questions, in the exact same format, as the proposed five-page Form DS-5513. Like the proposed Form DS-5513, the Supplemental Worksheet says that it must be completed “in its entiretyâ€￾ under penalty of perjury.

A Web search for â€￾passportâ€￾ and “Supplemental Worksheetâ€￾ turns up numerous other copies of this form, together with stories — some of them going back several years — of people who have been required to completed this form and, in some cases, had their passport applications denied because they were unable to do so.

Aside from the general problem of denying these people passports and the right to travel, the particular problem is that the current Supplemental Worksheet, despite already being in use and having been in use for years, has no OMB (Office of Management and Budget) “control numberâ€￾.

The absence of an OMB control number is conclusive evidence that the Supplemental Worksheet hasn’t gone through the process of public comment, submission to OMB, and OMB approval now being undertaken for its proposed successor, Form DS-5513.

So what? Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 (44 U.S.C. 3501 et seq.), any “answers to identical questions posed to … ten or more personsâ€￾ by any Federal agency must be approved in advance by OMB, and any form used for such an information collection must include a valid OMB control number showing that it has been so approved.

And if it doesn’t have an OMB control number? According to 44 U.S.C. 3512:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no person shall be subject to any penalty for failing to comply with a collection of information that is subject to this subchapter if–

(1) the collection of information does not display a valid control number assigned by the Director [of OMB] in accordance with this subchapter; or

(2) the agency fails to inform the person who is to respond to the collection of information that such person is not required to respond to the collection of information unless it displays a valid control number.

(b) The protection provided by this section may be raised in the form of a complete defense, bar, or otherwise at any time during the agency administrative process or judicial action applicable thereto.

That means that:

All use of the current Supplemental Worksheet is in violation of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Anyone who is given, or who has been given, the Supplemental Worksheet (or any other form without an OMB control number) has an absolute right to decline to provide any answers. They could also report the officer who gives them to form to the State Department Office of the Inspector General for violation of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Absolutely no penalty (including denial of a passport, denial of permission to travel, or interference with the right to travel) can legally be imposed on anyone for declining to provide any information requested on the Supplemental Worksheet.
Presumably, what’s happening is that someone at the State Department noticed — years after the Supplemental Worksheet came into use — that it had never been properly approved by OMB, and was being used illegally. Rather than stop using it, they decided to try to cover themselves by submitting it for approval. And while they were at it, they decided to add even more impossible questions.

The State Department’s request now for OMB approval, even though an unapproved version of the form is already in use, may also be a response to the lawsuit brought against the State Department in 2008 by U.S. citizens whose births in Texas and other Mexican border states were attended by midwives (a common practice, as their complaint explains), and who were presumed by the Passport Agency to have been of Mexican ancestry. The plaintiffs challenged the demands made by the State Department for additional evidence about their personal and family histories, and the failure to approve their passport applications. In a June 2009 settlement (see p. 19) of that lawsuit, the State Department reserved the â€￾rightâ€￾ to require answers to an “OMB biographical questionnaireâ€￾, something that doesn’t appear to have existed at that time.

This is almost exactly the same thing that has happened before with Federal demands for evidence of identity. Lacking any statutory or regulatory authority to demand such evidence of innocent people not suspected of a crime, as a condition of exercising their rights, Federal agencies have bypassed the OMB approval process that would have required them to justify their authority and the necessity for demanding this information. Instead, they have simply presented some arbitrarily selected subset of the citizenry with illegal, non-OMB-approved forms demanding evidence of identity, under penalty of perjury and under threat of denial of the right to travel.

Case in point: the “Certification of Identityâ€￾ form introduced by the TSA in 2008. Presented with a copy of this form at Phil Mocek’s trial in January of this year, the TSA’s witness said that the layout and typography of the form had changed from this version. But so far as we can tell, essentially this form, still without an OMB control number, remains in use. As with the State Department’s Supplemental Worksheet or the proposed Form DS-5513, there are no published substantive of procedural standards for determining who will be told they have to fill out this form if they want to fly.

The TSA has failed to respond to our request under the Freedom of Information Act for (1) the current version of this Certification of Identity and (2) any communication within TSA or between TSA and other agencies including OMB regarding the content of or approval for use of this form, including in particular any records related to requests for or approvals of this form by OMB, any OMB control number for any version of this form, or the potential need for such approval. Our appeal of the TSA’s (typical) failure to comply with FOIA and produce these records is pending.

We’ve made a similar FOIA request today to the State Department for any records related to use of the current Supplemental Worksheet for passport applicants, or its submission to OMB.

Members of Congress have begun asking similar questions: Today Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana made public a letter he has sent to Sec. of State Clinton, requesting information about (1) why the State Dept. believes it is “necessaryâ€￾ to collect this information, (2) the legal authority for requiring it, (3) the State Department’s analysis of the public comments and the percentages supporting and opposing the proposal (all of the comments we’ve reviewed oppose the proposal), and (4) what the State Department plans to do now and whether it has yet consulted OMB.

But with both the TSA and the State Department, the real problem — as we pointed out in our latest comments — is that they take for granted that travel is not a right, but a privilege for which the government can grant or deny “permissionâ€￾ at whim. That’s the assumption that underlies their decision simply to impose such “permissionâ€￾ requirements without thinking they needed to even go through the motions of getting Congress to pass laws, promulgating regulations, or obtaining the necessary approvals for their forms and demands for, “Your papers, please.â€￾
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and stoic philosopher, 121-180 A.D.
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Postby ErikHeaven » April 30th, 2011, 7:48 pm

I am glad i got mine 2 years ago. The nightmare is coming.
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Postby The_Hero_of_Men » April 30th, 2011, 9:01 pm

ErikHeaven wrote:I am glad i got mine 2 years ago. The nightmare is coming.

How much does it cost now to get a passport? I need to get one.
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Postby ErikHeaven » May 1st, 2011, 1:39 am

100.00 or 150 for expedited i think its 5 days for 150.00. Real cheap get it now!
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Postby The_Hero_of_Men » May 1st, 2011, 2:22 am

ErikHeaven wrote:100.00 or 150 for expedited i think its 5 days for 150.00. Real cheap get it now!

I looked on the site and It costs a little more than just 100 bucks.

Where did the $100 figure come from?
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Postby ErikHeaven » May 1st, 2011, 2:40 am

Cost 100 at the post office
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Postby ErikHeaven » May 1st, 2011, 2:42 am

Adult Passport Book
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Postby adam917 » May 21st, 2011, 7:42 pm

I got mine in 2005. I have one of the last non-RFID passports. Sadly I may be kinda messed up when it comes time to renew my passport (end of 2014?) if this gets rolled out.
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Postby Think Different » May 21st, 2011, 8:36 pm

My visa is in my passport and I'm leaving in 10 days. Goodbye America. The virtual "Berlin Wall" is rising around the US, and only the few that are awake have the wherewithal to get out. Everyone else seems to be lulled to sleep by endless reality TV shows and junk food.
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