Wednesday, May 31, 2006

US government wants credit card details of Europeans.

The United States, using 9/11 as an excuse, is pushing for the European Union to arrange a new deal to provide US authorities with reams of material on all passangers on planes headed for the United States.

A previous deal gave the US government 34 different pieces of information, including credit card details, on all passangers. But the European Court of Justice struck down the agreement as illegal.

Liberal Democrat member of the European Parliament, Graham Watson, said ""The response to 9/11 has been costly, both to the taxpayer and to individual freedom. It has made us little, if any, safer." Another MEP, Claud Moraes, said "Giving out people's personal financial information is a big deal, you need good assurances and we didn't believe the standard of assurances we were getting from the Department of Homeland Security and the US authorities." I don't see why there is such skepticism about the efficiency of the Homoland Security gestoap after all they did such a bang up job with the Katrina disaster.

But the airlines are concerned since the US government is threatening them with punishment for not following the requirements while the EU is telling them it is illegal to comply with those same requirements. An official of the British Air Transport Association said that if airlines "don't supply the information to the US border authorities, they are liable to fines of up to $6,000 per passenger, and loss of landing rights. If we do supply the information, potentially we are breaking the law."

Not long ago the United States got a rash of bad publicity in New Zealand when it Kiwis learned that all air passengers flying via American airports to other destinations, such as London, had to disembark the flight, pass through customs even though they had no intention of visiting the States, and were routinely finger printed. A Kiwi member of parliament said it was disgusting that the US treated him like a common criminal, forced him to provide fingerprints, and all he was trying to do was change planes for London. It is now adviseable for flyers to avoid the United States entirely unless they enjoy being treated like criminals by rude, arrogant, petty bureaucrats who seem to enjoy making people miserable --- I speak from experience watching them at work.

(It is also the reason that I have intentionally booked flights that avoid US territory instead of flying via the US. And when required to be in the US I have taken other forms of transport. However I can attest that the gestapo mentality that rules the airpors is not apparent on other forms of transport as well. I took a bus in the US only to find that federal agents stopped the bus, boarded it and demanded ID from every passanger. When I arrived at the final destination uniformed agents were walking around randomly demanding ID from people waiting for buses.)

It is apparent that the rising police state in the US is intent on forcing similar policies on the rest of the world and will use the might and power of the US government to do so. It is already difficult, if not impossible, for American citizens to open bank accounts in Europe. Banks are told that they can all their US assets confiscated if they open an account for a US citizen, whether they reside in the US or not, if the US government decides that citizen has broken any law. The only way banks can escape this is to have no assets in the US or to refuse accounts to US citizens and that is what they are doing. The best advice I can give is avoid the United States and if you are a US citizen get citizenship someplace else the first chance you can.