Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Inslee Would Apply 'Broad' Definition Of Law Enforcement For False IDs

Washington Governor Jay Inslee says he would apply a "broad" interpretation to the term “law enforcement” when issuing fictitious driver licenses to undercover agents. The governor’s comment follows our report that the CIA has obtained nearly 300 so-called confidential Washington driver licenses since 2007.

For years, Washington’s Department of Licensing has issued false IDs to undercover officers without the approval or even the knowledge of state lawmakers. Now a measure moving through the legislature would establish the confidential license program in law. The bill’s language says the licenses would only be for state and local police and federal agencies engaged in covert law enforcement.

Senate Transportation Co-Chair Tracy Eide is the prime sponsor of the measure. She says there’s nothing in the proposed bill that would specifically preclude a CIA employee from getting a false license from the state. “Just as long as that individual is involved in a law enforcement activity they are able to be given one of these undercover licenses.”

By definition, the CIA is not a law enforcement agency. But its website says the CIA does collect and provide intelligence related to international organized crime, narcotics trafficking and terrorism.

Eide says she would defer to the governor and state attorney general on who should qualify for a fictitious identity from the state.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."