10 February 2008

Guardian: "Bush orders clampdown on flights to US"


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Originally uploaded by raypride
"Bush orders clampdown on flights to US; EU officials furious as Washington says it wants extra data on all air passengers." Writes Ian Traynor: "The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines. The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the Bush administration that officials in Brussels described as "blackmail" and "troublesome", and could see US visas being introduced for west Europeans and Britons travelling to the US if their governments balk at the American requirements... EU states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America... [W]ithin months the US department of homeland security is to impose a new permit system for Europeans flying to the US, compelling all travellers to apply online for permission to enter the country before booking or buying a ticket, a procedure that will take several days... Washington is also asking European airlines to provide personal data on non-travellers - for example family members - who are allowed beyond departure barriers to help elderly, young or ill passengers to board aircraft flying to America, a demand the airlines reject as "absurd"... To European ears, the US demands sound draconian. "This would oblige the European countries to allow US air marshals on US flights. It's controversial and difficult," an EU official said. At the moment the use of air marshals is discretionary for European states and airlines... European governments, however, would probably veto such action, one official said, not least for fear of the "massive disruption given the huge volume of transatlantic traffic".