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Criminal Resource Manual

1506. Governmental Issuers -- 18 U.S.C. 1028

Although 18 U.S.C. § 1028 does not use the term "government entity," this term is an aid to understanding the scope of section 1028. It is clear that the Congressional intent was to cover all governmental identification documents regardless of which governmental body in the world issued them. And it is clear that 18 U.S.C. § 1028 does not cover identification documents issued by private parties such as private and parochial schools, non-governmental employers, etc. Thus, it does not cover credit cards, bank cards, insurance coverage cards issued by a private insurer, membership cards of private associations, private clubs, or private citizen's groups, personal name cards, retail business check cashing cards, etc. It would, however, cover the identification documents of the employees of government contractors if such documents were issued by or under the authority of a government agency.

The concept of "governmental entity" is set forth in the definition of "identification document" in 18 U.S.C. § 1028(d)(1) and includes:

the United States Government, a State, political subdivision of a State, a foreign government, political subdivision of a foreign government, an international governmental or an international quasi-governmental organization . . . .

This expansive definition should be read to include multi-state governmental bodies established pursuant to interstate compacts. Although these entities are not explicitly mentioned, they are certainly intended to be covered and are implicitly incorporated within the concepts of "State" or "political subdivision of a State. The legislative history makes it clear that the Committee desired to protect all government issued documents directly. Thus, interstate compact entities often operate certain facilities, such as those for water storage or public transportation, which may be prime targets of terrorist endeavors are included within the definition. A brief summary of the governmental entities covered by section 1028 is set forth below. Because of the jurisdictional circumstance requirement, it is convenient to divide the issuers into two groups: (A) the United States Government and (B) other governments.

  1. "United States Government" is not defined in section 1028 and, hence, it should be construed as broadly as is possible under title 18. It includes all three branches of the Federal government (executive, judicial, and legislative) and all federal departments, agencies, offices, commissions, administrations, institutions, corporations, services, boards, etc., and any component thereof. See 18 U.S.C. § 6; United States v. Bramblett, 348 U.S. 503 (1955). It does not, however, include the governments of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, or other territories or possessions of the United States as these entities are to be considered as "States."
  2. Other Governments: For the sake of convenience, the expression "non-federal" will often be used to refer to governments other than the United States Government.
    1. "State" is defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1028(d)(5) to include: any State of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and any other possession or territory of the United States. As noted above, multi-state governmental bodies are covered.
    2. "Political Subdivision of a State" is not specifically defined. It is intended to cover all cities, towns, counties, water districts, school districts, etc., and all agencies and departments of such governmental bodies, including public schools, public universities, public libraries, public museums (i.e., owned by a government agency), voting districts, etc.
    3. "Foreign Government" is not defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1028 and, hence, its definition is that found in 18 U.S.C. § 11: "[t]he term `foreign government,' as used in this title except in §§ 112, 878, 970, 1116, and 1201, includes any government, faction, or body or insurgents within a country with which the United States is at peace, irrespective of recognition by the United States."
    4. "Political Subdivision of a Foreign Government" is not defined in section 1028, but is clearly intended to cover all the subordinate governmental bodies in foreign countries regardless of nomenclature. It therefore covers provinces, cities, districts, states, towns, villages, counties, departments, or whatever structure is used in the foreign country to divide governmental responsibility, however labelled. It also covers the agencies and departments of such governmental bodies.
    5. "International Governmental or Quasi-Governmental Organization" is not defined in section 1028 but includes such bodies as the United Nations (UN), North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), European Economic Community (EEC), Organization of American States (OAS), the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, etc., and other public international organizations designated as such pursuant to Section 1 of the International Organizations Immunities Act (22 U.S.C. §  288).

    [cited in USAM 9-64.400]