Colin Powell

May 15, 2004

as Secretary of State of the United States of America hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit Matthew Belcher (Citizen on the United States) to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give all lawful aid and protection.

I just got my passport in the mail. The above sentence, modified to include my name and that of the current Secretary of State, is included on the inside front cover. It isn't clear to me, the way the sentence is written, whether I'm supposed to be permitted to give lawful aid and protection, or whether the foreign party is supposed to give me lawful aid and protection. The subject of the verb is quite ambiguous. I'm sure it means the latter, given the lack of ambiguity in the French and Spanish translations accompanying it, however its lack of clarity is startling.

Also, despite the claims of the County Clerk, you can get a passport with just an old, expired one. You don't need your birth certificate.

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