In recent years, the state of Washington has issued nearly 300 fictitious driver licenses to the CIA. That’s according to public records initially disclosed, but now withheld, by state officials. The state’s cooperation with the nation’s premier spy agency has been a secret for years — unknown to lawmakers and even the governor.
Inside Washington’s Department of Licensing is a special office called the License Integrity Unit. This is where police officers who are going undercover can come to get a fake identity. It’s a valid Washington driver license, but with a fictitious name, birthdate and address. It’s known as the confidential driver license program. It’s operated for decades, but without legislative approval.
“It’s not really been a formal program,” says Agency spokesman Brad Benfield. “But the practice of issuing law enforcement officers these types of licenses appears to go back to the 80s.”
This year the Department of Licensing is asked the legislature to give it formal permission to continue the program. The agency introduced legislation that’s moving through the process. Last month, reporter Josh Farley of The Kitsap Sun and I asked for a list of the agencies that have received these fictitious driver licenses.
Benfield showed us the list, but he said he couldn’t give it to us just yet.
Immediately, one agency jumped off the page. The CIA. I asked Benfield if I was seeing it right.
“That is CIA,” he replied.
Not only that, the CIA had obtained by far the greatest number of confidential driver licenses of any agency – local, state or federal: 288 since 2007.
Research Credit: ottilie
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