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20 November 2006

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haves kunk

What if I want to drive over to Canada for the day? Or Mexico? More boneheaded nonsense. There is, no doubt, some private firm all lined up to get a fat contract to manage the administrative end of this legislation, under the aegis of the homeland security money pit. The firm is probably Texas-based. Follow the money...

zanzibar

The inexorable march to an authoritarian state. And not enough people are bothered sufficiently to make much noise.

Richard Dreyfuss on Bill Maher's show this past Fri made a strong argument that republican democracy is not the natural state and that unless the sovereign - that is the people - keep their government in check and took that responsibility seriously - they would succumb to their natural state which is "tell us what to do". He urged more intense civics education.

Michael

Somewhere, someplace George Orwell is shaking his head.

Wombat

Where is Ruth Shipley, now that DHS needs her?

semper fubar

Is that REALLY the emblem for the Department of Homeland Security? My my my, how.... authoritarian. Completely creepy.

And appropriate, I guess, now that their plan is to watch our every move like hawks. Or eagles, I guess I should say.

A large percentage of our population would say "The only people who are concerned about this must have something to hide." The same group, by the way, who are not at all afraid to give up their freedoms, but who cower under their beds every night, " 'cause I'm skeered them terrists are gonna GIT me!"

walrus

As a result of this Homeland security rule change, I will never visit the U.S. again, nor even transit U.S. territory.

Your freedom to travel was once assured. You now have no freedom of International travel, you have to be "allowed" to travel.

Your freedoms are being carefully whittled away, one little step at a time.

Antiquated Tory

Looking through this bill however, the definition of "high-risk" passenger is not changed by it, so the "arbitrariness" of CBP authority is not altered a whit.
Their argument that stopping a "high-risk" passenger before plane/ship departure rather than after departure, when he/she may already pose a security threat, makes a certain amount of sense. It also makes sense to allow the vetting system to be integrated with check-in as an alternative to having the airline submit a passenger manifest from the gate.
Does anyone know what a "high-risk passenger" is? My wife got extra security when we flew to the US to get married last year, because she was a UK citizen flying to the US and back from a 3rd country. There was a lovely bit at Charles de Gaulle where the security lady banged my wife's boot on the ground to see if it contained explosives. This year though we flew via Budapest instead of Paris and had no extra security at all. Neither did any of the 50 or so Moldavian and Albanian passport holders on the plane with us.

Cloned Poster

Just you wait until Mexicans embrace Nascar.

Cancer is a terrible disease. Eats from within.

Nancy Kimberlin

Oh Walrus, get a grip. If we only traveled to countries with perfect democracies would any of us travel at all. Americans need to be aware of what is happening and to stand up againt tyranny. Didn't someone recently say sometimes we are stuck with the democracy we have not the democracy we want, only kidding.

Charles

So, by just passing through, if they refuse to permit you to leave, you're stuck. Just like if you're a citizen or not, if you're within their grasp, you can be disappeared and subjected to whatever bush dreams up as legal, no questions asked, no remedy, no habeus corpus. I've asked my government to issue a travel advisory, but then my Minister of Foreign Affairs, is one Peter McKay, fellow traveller, ready aye ready. You may have seen him on tv last year, when he appeared to cream himself whilst burbling over Condi - "I've been a fan of yours for a long time" - on international tv. It seems incredulous, but I think the land of the free can be completely and irrevocably given to Power and Money and Israel by the brave, somnolent, lobster-in-the-pot method. Dems or GOP, won't make a difference in the end now they have these wars started and bungled.

confusedponderer

Nancy,
Custom and immigration folks are special everywhere in the world. Friends of mine traveled to the US by plane after 911. Their impression was that the harassment in New York at the hands of immigration surpassed that of East Berlin's 'Grenzpolizei'.

They were subjected to the usual procedures, starting with the very sensible form you got to fill out on the plane: 'Are you a terrorist?' 'Are you a member of Al Quaeda?' 'Do you intent to commit crimes in the US?' "YES!" -- That's how Mohammed Atta and his gang got caught. It should be reassuring that the DHS somewhere collects, processes and stores these vital bits and pieces. Not only that, it gives a prosecutor the opportunity to charge an accused with lying, on top of, say, murder in 4000 cases.

That said, I still look forward to visit the US, but I also know that, since introduced in 2004, I will be fingerprinted and photographed, and maybe interrogated. Give the wrong answer to a grumpy buereaucrat, and you got yourself a couple of extra hours waiting.
A friend from Sweden couldn't help laughing when asked if she intended to exploit US welfare by an immigration official. She thought he must have been kidding. Sweden is about as much a welfare state as it can get, it certainly gives more welfare to its citizens than the US. The immigration officer didn't get that joke and got very stern and angry and called a colleague for more thorough questioning. Four or so extra hours.
Another friend of mine gets stopped and searched and questioned at every US airport. After the tenth time or so he discounted accident and concluded he was on some sort of list - possible reasons include (a) having ordered the book 'The Turner Diaries' in a US online bookstore or (b) being a ranking member of Amnesty International's German chapter.

Bill H.

Reuters has an article discussing a survey that lists the US as the most "unfriendly" country to visit, mostly from visa hassles and rude customs/immigration personnel at points of entry. The economic impact of people saying to hell with visiting the US is also estimated. Now, if even innocent US citizens have to be "approved" to go overseas, what effect will that have on travel abroad?

http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=domesticNews&storyid=2006-11-20T221513Z_01_N20294102_RTRUKOC_0_US-USA-IMAGE.xml&src=rss&rpc=22

J. Meyer

The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts.--Edmund Burke (1729-97), Irish philosopher, statesman, Letter, April 3, 1777, to the Sheriffs of Bristol

confusedponderer

PS: I do understand that questionaires as the one I mentioned can make sense when they are compared to those filled out on previous flights, to tag a traveller for questioning on the contradictions. Indeed, it might help spot the occasional fake identity.

But then there are the questions themselves. In the above mentioned potentially useful application I would ask questions about living circumstances, personal things, not about political views or intentions. Unlike living circumstances, views and intentions cannot easily be fact checked. As a result, a good deal of the answers have to be taken at face value. Clearly, after 911 the US have entered a period of 'heightened scrutiny'. Priceless.

Les Izmore

I'm almost afraid to post this because I fly in and out of the USA regularly. I am a US citizen and I work in China with a company based in Shanghai. Our Chinese partners have to jump through hoops to get a visa, if they can get one at all. When a visa is denied you are not told anything other than you can reapply. No reasons for denial, no appeal nothing. Meanwhile the fees are non-refundable. The US officials are consistently rude martinets who routinely humiliate the applicants. We've talked about this to our congressman back home and he is told consular matters are not reviewable. These folks have no trouble traveling anywhere else in the world. Geez, it's almost like our govt. doesn't want our citizens exposed to any non American media influenced folks at all. Nah, they wouldn't do that would they? The sad thing is the long term damage to our country is going to be economic rather than political. The nations of the world can now choose who to do business with. Is it really in our national interest to systematically antagonize them? When we've walled ourselves off from the rest of the world watch the dollar slide. The folks in power are greasing the skids for the demise of our great nation.

Paul

Should not something of this magnitude have to be passed in a law by the Congress? It seems absurd that an un-elected body of the executive branch could enforce such a "law", and if it is a "rule" and not a "law" then how is it to be enforced and what are the penalties if it is not followed?

It is a rotten "rule" in any event.

confusedponderer

Having thought about it for a while, my informed guess on the mentioned rule: It would constitute an unconstitutional infringement of personal freedom. Freedom of travel, the right to determine where you want to go to, is a fundamental civil right, I would expect that it is required for elected representatives to enact such a critical law, ane even then it might be unconstitutional*. In any case it certainly lacks the essential transparency required for legal protection. I think this is by default.

My prognosis is that it will take at least decade to roll back Bush's executive overreach. It will take so long because so much of it is happening in secret.

So, dear conservatives - if you value your civil libverties: Join forces with the ACLU today! You might find, to your surprise, that you have much more in common with them than you ever thought, at least on critical issues. And politics, to be sensible, should be about issues, right?

* In my country it would be unconstitutional, because creating rules infringing basic individual rights cannot be deleged down to the ministerial level. The lack of transparency would violate basic procedural principles of reviewability of executive action in court.
Looking at such a rule illustrates that procedures in executive actions are primarily a reflex of civil liberties, and not a buereaucratic excess, or expression of liberal sissyness. That it takes longer than just dictating them is just in the nature of it.

ked

the degree of damage we are doing to ourselves; in economy, natural rights, the blood of our warriors, the capacity to influence the progress of civilization... it is beyond anything our adversaries could ever hope to achieve. and we are doing this willingly, from top to bottom of governance, end to end across the country. Happy Thanksgiving indeed.

DrS

Well, talking about infringment of human rights, here’s my experience with US customs at NY.
I am a Canadian citizen, originally from Netherlands. On a sunny august afternoon, I drive to Lewiston border, NY to attend a conference. I show my passport as usual. The officer asks me to park my car and come inside for further questioning. Once inside, the lady immigration officer, queries “so, you thought you could get away..did you?” I am speechless. I reply “may I know what this is about?”. She replies sarcastically “you will find out in a minute”. I am immediately surrounded by another male officer, led away to a cell. Once inside, I am pushed to the wall. The male officer does a body search and confined in the cell for a good 3 hrs. Finally, I am released. The lady officer (her name tag says “Mary p everingham”) curtly says that she is not satisfied with my documentation (??) returns my passport and asked to drive back to Canada.
How’s that for a short traumatic business trip? Since then, I have never gone back to US and nor do I ever..even intend to flyover US airspace. I think the officer was trying to “break me” and see how far she could go.
I tell my experience to anyone I come across in the hope of warning them. I have enjoyed listening to all your comments.
Stay safe.
“Dr. S”.

W. Patrick Lang

DrS

Sorry. pl

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