Homeland Security Tightens Grip on International Travel
11/04/06 “SFTS” — -A radical change in international travel rules has been lost in these tumultuous last few months that have seen the demise of habeas corpus, the legalization of torture and the expansion of the President’s martial law powers.
The Department of Homeland Security proposed new rules back in July that would fundamentally undermine the right of American citizens to travel abroad. Public carriers–airlines, cruise lines, even fishing boats–will be required to submit the names of all passengers to Homeland Security prior to departure and to obtain permission from Homeland Security to board those passengers. These new rules will take effect January 14, 2007.
Current practices already represent a severe restriction on the right to travel. The “no-fly list” dates back to 1990, but Patriot Act I created a new agency, the Transportation Security Administration, that was charged with creating and maintaining a list of people who were not allowed to board airplanes. The list was reported to have contained around 1,000 names by the end of 2001 of people strictly forbidden to fly plus a second longer list of “selectees” who were to be called out of line and subjected to closer searches and intense questioning before they were allowed to board. Many American political activists reported that they were on the “selectee” list. These lists of names were provided to airlines who were charged with the task of separating out listed passengers and notifying authorities. In December, 2005, a Swedish airline leaked that the list had grown from 1,000 to over 80,000.
The new procedure will completely eliminate the opportunity for the public to find out how many people are on the list. No airline or cruise company will ever receive a “no-fly” or “selectee” list. Instead of providing a passenger manifest after departure as now required by the Customs and Border Patrol, airlines, cruise lines and other public carriers will have to provide a provisional pasenger list prior to departure. This list will be checked against a Homeland Security list of citizens approved for international travel, and the carrier will be ordered not to board those who are not approved. This is from the proposed rule itself:
Therefore, CBP [Customas and Border Patrol] has concluded that the prevention of a high-risk passenger from boarding an aircraft is the appropriate level of security in the commercial air travel environment. Manifest data received and vetted prior to passenger boarding will enable CBP to attain this level of security. Further, this vetting of passengers on international flights should eliminate the need for passenger carriers to conduct watch list screening of these passengers, upon publication and implementation of a final rule. Accordingly, with this proposed rule,CBP is proposing two transmission options for air carriers to select from at their discretion: (i) the submission of complete manifests no later than 60minutes prior to departure or (ii)transmitting passenger data asindividual, real-time transactions, i.e.,as each passenger checks in, up to but no later than 15 minutes prior todeparture. Under both options, the carrier will not permit the boarding of a passenger unless the passenger has been cleared by CBP.
Seagoing vessels are required to submit their list 60 minutes prior to departure under the rule.
Read it here.