Godwin Overnight Express | MetaFilter
So we have a national identity card now -- at least for people over 16. We have done it in an ingeniously American way -- by the back door and roundabouts and not all at once. For all that it will happen entirely; eventually it will be common for early teenagers to get a version of the 'drivers license' that is purely an identity card. Perhaps the "driver's license number" will move to a national standard, rather than being assigned by a state, and lastly it will be assigned at birth and serve as both email address and phone number.
Or there will be some other typically messy American solution that will achieve much the same end in a less direct fashion.
This was inevitable, even before 9/11. It will also be inevitably abused. We are the kind of nation that does these things covertly, so be necessity we do not put essential legal protections in place.