portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts united states

9.11 investigation

Millions More Travelers to U.S. to Face Fingerprints and Photos

The Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it planned to require travelers from 27 industrialized nations, including longtime allies like Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Australia, to be photographed and electronically fingerprinted when they arrive in the United States.
Millions More Travelers to U.S. to Face Fingerprints and Photos


Published: April 3, 2004

WASHINGTON, April 2 The Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday that it planned to require travelers from 27 industrialized nations, including longtime allies like Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Japan and Australia, to be photographed and electronically fingerprinted when they arrive in the United States.

Officials described the move as a critical security measure intended to protect the country from future terrorist attacks. Once the program goes into effect, by Sept. 30, at 115 airports and 14 seaports around the nation, only diplomats, Canadians and Mexicans carrying border cards, which are typically used for 72-hour visits to the United States, will be exempt from the new rules.

Under an existing program, airport inspectors began photographing and fingerprinting travelers who need visas to visit the United States in January.

The new decision would extend that requirement to tourists from 22 European countries and Brunei, Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, who can currently travel to the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Because they are required to carry visas, students and other visitors from those nations who stay for more than three months have already been subjected to the new security measures.

Asa Hutchinson, an undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said intelligence reports indicated that terrorists might take advantage of the loophole that allows travelers from Europe and other industrialized nations to travel to the United States with little scrutiny.

Zacarias Moussaoui, the only suspect charged in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, traveled to the United States on a French passport, and at least two of the people arrested in last month's bombings in Madrid carried Spanish passports.

Mr. Hutchinson said the Bush administration had already discussed these concerns with officials in the 27 nations and said the new requirements would not come as "any particular surprise."

He said he did not believe the move would deter tourists from visiting the United States, but acknowledged that some countries might retaliate by instituting tough new requirements for Americans traveling abroad. He went on to say the Bush administration would applaud such decisions from foreign leaders.

"We welcome other countries moving to this kind of system," Mr. Hutchinson said at a news conference on Friday. "We fully expect that other countries will adopt similar procedures. We recognize that it's a two-way street."

Homeland security officials said that 2.5 million visa-carrying travelers have been screened since the new program began on Jan. 5 and emphasized that the program has run smoothly so far. But airport and travel executives warned that the decision could overwhelm inspectors and result in a slump in the number of international travelers, which plunged after the Sept. 11 attacks and has only begun to recover.

"We're very concerned about the potential for negative reaction from those markets," said Rick Webster, director of government affairs at the Travel Industry Association of America, which represents the nation's largest airlines, hotels, cruise lines and car rental companies.

In 2002, almost 13 million of the 19 million overseas visitors to the United States came from the 27 countries affected by Friday's decision. Tourists from just four of those nations, Britain, France, Germany and Japan, spent $22.2 billion in the United States that year, accounting for one-third of all spending by overseas visitors, according to Mr. Webster's group.

Several countries whose citizens are required to have visas to travel to the United States have already retaliated. This week, China announced that it was barring Americans from applying for last-minute visas at Chinese airports and was requiring some Americans to be interviewed before receiving tourist visas. In January, Brazil announced that it would fingerprint and photograph American visitors.

Friday's announcement came in the evening in most European capitals, so few officials were offering responses. A British Foreign Office spokesman said that the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair had known for some time that the Bush administration would probably begin fingerprinting and photographing all visitors to the United States.

"It is something we have been discussing, post-Madrid," the official said, referring to the March 11 terrorist attacks in Spain.

Martine de Haan, a spokeswoman for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, "If they want to do it, it's O.K. with us."

Ms. de Haan said the Dutch government viewed the new regulations as a temporary measure because the Netherlands and other European countries were working on creating new passports with facial-recognition technology that may eliminate the need for American officials to take the fingerprints of European visitors.

She acknowledged, however, that Europeans had objected to some American security provisions in the past and said she was unsure as to whether the new policy would anger some Dutch citizens.

"Maybe," Ms. de Haan said. "We'll have to see about that."

The announcement came two weeks after the State Department and Homeland Security officials urged Congress to postpone by two years a deadline that required the 27 countries to start issuing passports that employ facial-recognition technology by Oct. 26. Nearly all of the countries are expected to miss the deadline, forcing millions of visitors with old-fashioned passports to apply for visas to travel to the United States. The officials argued that many of those travelers might choose to avoid the United States, which could threaten the American tourism industry.

Some lawmakers and administration officials said the new regulations may persuade members of Congress who remain anxious about security loopholes to approve the extension. They argue that tourists will be willing to undergo the screening once they learn that the digital fingerprinting and photographing typically takes 15 seconds and does not leave visitors with ink-stained fingers.

Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, hailed the new rules on Friday and said they could be put into effect with little inconvenience and would "help ensure that the visa waiver program is not exploited by terrorists."

Mr. Hutchinson said he believed that airports could handle the screening of an additional 13 million people without delays, but airport officials remained skeptical.

"We have some concerns about making sure that we match the resources necessary to make sure that this doesn't cause additional queuing as people are coming in through the facilities," said Todd Hauptli, vice president of the American Association of Airport Executives.

homepage: homepage: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/04/03/politics/03TRAV.html?th

Welcome to the One World Order 03.Apr.2004 17:22

Meria meria@meria.net

Big Brother isn't coming, it's here.
Under the guise of terrorism (that's been happening since Abel & Cain) the whole world has gone insane with their diabolical plot to enslave all humanity for the corporate Gods of the IMF, World Banks, WTO, and soon to be American Union.
If everyone just said NO, and stopped flying, buying, shopping, working for ONE DAY, the whole system of evil would crash.
Check out what's next in store for the North American countries & Latin American Countries in my latest chapbook at www.wingtv.net under chapbooks.
We can and must stop the one world order corporate whores from ruining the entire planet and the lives of 6 billion people (less the 13,000 that OWN everything including the courts).