Bush administration wants Europeans' family details, the right to put armed officials on European planes, and a pre-approval for European visitors

The Bush Administration has put forth new rules demanding that visitors to the US from Europe need to apply for "approval" to land, days in advance of purchasing their tickets. Airlines will also be required to provide information on travellers' families, and to allow US Air Marshals to fly on any flight that will pass over or land on US soil.
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 west Europeans and Britons required to have US visas if their governments balk at Washington's requirements.

According to a US document being circulated for signature in European capitals, 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, senior EU officials said.

And within 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.

I think this is a great idea. While we're at it, lets give Mexico the right to put its Sky Marshals on any American flight that's bound for South America, and Canada could put Mounties on all US flights headed over to Alaska from the mainland. Also: if you're on a US flight headed to, say, Germany, your flight could have gun-toting cops from Canada, Ireland, the UK, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Switzerland on it. Link


  1. I think this is pretty ridiculous and can only hope the EU can convince the Eastern states not to go along with the visa waiver program and stay firm in rejecting this proposal. I’m an American, but I’d much rather us lose this fight.

  2. This is 2 parts arrogance/insanity (armed US air marshals, PNR+ data for overflights) and 1 part common sense (online pre-approval).

    If the latter’s done sensibly (a word which, of course, is frequently oxymoronic when linked with US government policy), it would expedite processing on arrival and flag any potentially undesirables in a timely manner.

    They could probably even adopt the Australian government’s on-line visa application algorithms – middle-aged airline executives on vacation tend to pose minimal threat levels to the well-being of a country’s citizens, something the Aussies have determined in my case every time.

    As does US Immigration at Logan airport when I turn up on their doorstep unannounced…..

  3. Eventually, on each flight, the passengers will be 50% civilians and 50% law enforcement. Wont you feel safe? Oh, ticket prices will rise of course…. and you’ll have to fly with TSA approved clothing, and clear luggage… but it’s worth it right?

  4. Need to get a visa and supply personal data, apply for a per-boarding permit and share the flight with armed guards?

    Does the American government really not want money from tourists over here, or are there EU terrorist cells we’re not aware of? Recent experiences with the TSA have made me think twice about coming over there again, this would stop me altogether. There’s absolutely no reason why I would want to go through all of that for a 2 week holiday while I can go virtually anywhere else in the world with less hassle.

    Enjoy your weakening dollar, America.

  5. Don’t worry. It’s not too long now before your ridiculous president is out of a job and hopefully some sanity will be restored. What a delightful legacy he is going to leave behind, at least 18 months of international recession (it’s just BEGINNING! believe me!)

  6. Good. Whenever I tell people how ridiculous the new regulations are, I think they often fail to fully empathize because the discrimination in how these policies are enforced.

    There’s a weird class system where travelers from some areas India, Africa, Latin America have been forced to accept these regulations for some time, but the EU’s diplomatic and economic pull has allowed to get exemptions until now. Only when EU passengers have to deal with the crap and nice blonde Nordic Nokia executives get the Orwell treatment will there be a significant outcry at the stupidity of these regulations. That Icelandic girl furthered the debate more than the travails of hundreds of Mexicans.

    It’s like the airport passengers who are shocked at the inconvenience of getting searched, when my 89 year old Indian grandfather has had to deal with getting romanced by the metal detector for a long time.

  7. And not just overflight. If the plane were hijacked then it could threaten anywhere it could reach, so every country should have the right to put armed air marshals on any plane that can reach them.

    Now the A380’s 853-passenger capacity looks like a good idea!

    On the plus side, the more trouble air travel becomes, the less carbon emitted, so maybe it’ll all be for the best.

    I think we have to draw the line at transparent TSA-approved clothing without pockets, though.

  8. If the whole point of grasping with both hands as much as you can temporarily grab is to see what sticks to your fingers – what then are they really trying to do? Anyone with any sense knows by now they aren’t hunting terrorists. What do they plan to do with all this personal data? They can’t blackmail foreigners in their home countries, it hopefully isn’t for lists to sell to spammers, what are they going to do with this data? Even after Bush is flushed, this machine they have built will continue to provide graft and jobs. The data will accumulate.

  9. Dear leaders of the United States,

    Stop pretending that you are rulers of the Earth.

    yours sincerely,
    a European

  10. @Jaybee,
    Pre-approval is common sense?
    Then I want European countries to do the same to the US-ians, because there are a lot of undesirables in the US as well.
    The current US president comes to mind. (He is most certainly NOT welcome in my house)

    BTW, the US already receives lists of people that are on board the flights to the US, what more could they want?

  11. When will these rules go in to effect? I was planning to visit the US (hello cheap $$$) but this could definitely be a deal breaker.

  12. The Bush Administration has put forth new rules demanding that visitors to the US from Europe need to apply for “approval” to land, days in advance of purchasing their tickets.

    Some of us already (still) have to do that. Poland was promised a revision of the visa laws after entering the EU, but so far we’re still too suspicious to be allowed into the US without the visa hassle. My first visa was for six months- the one I have now is valid for ten years, but I can still get turned away upon arrival and be forced to make the 16-hour flight back home without even getting out of the airport. A visa’s just a very expensive permit to ASK for permission for entry. You gotta love that.

    Meanwhile, the US wants our soldiers in their war, our land for their secret prisons, our airspace for their rocket shields, and all we get in return is McDonalds. Ew. I know we’re not the most important country out there, but do me a favour!

  13. @madjo

    That’s exactly what the EU is planning to do, with digital facial and fingerprint image capture on entry into the EU and monitoring on departure for all non-EU citizens.

    [quote]The US already receives lists of people that are on board the flights to the US, what more could they want[/quote].

    This in ineffective for 2 reasons:

    1. It’s too late to prevent a potential undesirable from boarding and results in diversion of the aircraft to a remote airport with inconvenience and costs for airline and passengers alike.

    2. You’re only comparing names and limited data with a database that has been proven to be dodgy, regularly flagging 4 year-olds (and Ted Kennedy) as potential terrorists.

    With pre-clearance, you’re effectively moving the initial immigration process into a non-critical timeframe.

    I’d have no problems with it if it gets me out of the airport quickly on arrival

  14. Sky Marshalls.

    What a load of balls.

    It has been nigh on impossible to get a gn onto an international flight since the 1970s,now in one fell swoop planes will come equipped with them.

    How difficult will it be for terrorists to find out who the “sky marshall” is?

    walk past armed passenger, stab armed passenger in the eye/jugular with a ball point pen, take gun.

    And we’re all back to Entebe.

  15. That’s OK, we’ll just stop coming over and buying things with your comical little dol-lar. You know, things like oil, gold, diamonds…

  16. No point on commenting on the ridiculousness of the whole thing any further, but does anybody know what “Airlines will also be required to provide information on travellers’ families” actually means?

    Is this about Airlines disclosing their already existing information about families, which would sum up to the traveller’s last name, I’d hope?

    Or does a traveller have to write a biography on how they met their life partner and had offspring?

    Nah…bullshit…that would never happen…

  17. When i was a young boy from germany, we had this picture in our minds about the US being a free country, a wide and open country, where you could go to lead your life like you want it to.

    Whenever someone would have asked that young boy what came into his mind when he thinks of the US, the answer would have been:
    freedom, adventure, endless possibilities.

    Today this has changed to:
    war, surveillance, christian fundamentalism.

    Dabya really did his best in flushing your reputation down the drain.

  18. Anything to keep out more Eurotrash. You know, like all those Irish that have flooded New York to go shopping! I can’t abide all this money being spent here.

    Keeping people out of the US, curtailing their spending of money and supporting the US economy with billions of dollars on goods and services is not in the best interest of the country. We need that money and should encourage travel into the States. Geez oh Pete, the republicans should be a lot better at fiscal management than this.

  19. Wow! Just picture old MarlboroTestMonkey7 as a Vatican Swiss Guard / Sky Marshall dressed in his medieval regalia and traveling first class!
    Life is good.

  20. It’s all about Money.
    It’s only a benefit measure to give cash to all the Airlines. Here’s the deal.

    All security agents from all over the world (Sky Marshall, Sky Deputy, Sky SWAT, etc) will travel with a full paid First Class ticket – no discounts please! – since they will have to be “undercover”. So, every country will give a huge amount of money to the Airline Companies. All tickets sold in every trip! Hurray!

    It’s only a conspiracy theory, of course, but wouldn’t it be nice? No need for passengers, all planes full of officers… And any traveler who insists to fly in that case, is clear that he (or she) is a terrorist. Otherwise, why bother to fly?

  21. “US flights headed over to Alaska from the mainland.”

    Last time I checked, Alaska was the mainland. Perhaps you were thinking of Hawaii, the 50th state, not the 49th.

  22. I could almost, ALMOST understand if the air marshalls were flying IN on international flights. Of course, like a chicken, they’d have to get to the other side first. But honestly, once that plane reaches international airspace, it’s no longer the U.S.’s responsibility, nor is it our right, to patrol that craft. If this were 2002 and we still had the world’s sympathies, I might see why developed nations would let us pull this crap; as it is, we’ve squandered that. I’m guessing it’s merely the symbiosis (mutual parasitism?) of our economies and looming military endowments that compel anyone to want to do any fool thing we ask.

  23. #9 Takuan
    What do they plan to do with all this personal data? They can’t blackmail foreigners in their home countries, it hopefully isn’t for lists to sell to spammers, what are they going to do with this data? Even after Bush is flushed, this machine they have built will continue to provide graft and jobs. The data will accumulate.

    The Bush’s rule like a Mafia crime family so yes, his job is to get as many of “our people” into high government office. The other thing is I’m coming to believe that Alex Jones has a piece of the truth. I think there is a desire to turn this plant into one big gulag.

    The third option is that it plays well at home. So who gives a f*ck about Europe? The GOP base hates you all with a passion anyway and the rest of the US electorate, the sheep, can’t even find you on a map. The GOP has been pushing the FEAR button for a long time and it has worked out fairly well for them so they are going to keep pushing that button.

    As of now the whole wingnutosphere is going absolutely apeshit over Michelle Obama’s statement that “For the first time in my adult lifetime I am really proud of my country.” The crazy is just beginning and there is no reason to believe the Dems have this sewn up. John McCain could win and trust me, he is far more insane than Bush.

  24. #15 posted by tapemonkeyadmin
    Dear world:
    On behalf of my batshit crazy government, I apologize.
    An American.

    Seconded. =_=;

    I’m surprised security hasn’t started doing routine anal probing.

  25. How about one air trip per passenger, with the remaining seats taken up by gun-toting law enforcement from every country in the world? That would be so fucking secure.

  26. Said it before, I’ll say it again – they’re not gonna stop until the pre-flight process involves every passenger being rendered unconscious, stripped naked, and strapped into their seats.

    But look on the bright side, at least there won’t be any more complaints about lousy airline food.

  27. So… how will doing this prevent 9/11 from happening?
    Oh wait. it already did. And there’s been no significant incidents since. So OF COURSE security must go up.

  28. Wow. This is just awesome. “If you don’t do this, we’ll have to start requiring visas for you to enter our country” – except, wait, isn’t pre-approval before buying your ticket exactly the same thing??

  29. This is the crap that is so important to do RIGHT NOW, but that whole issue of securing chemical manufacturing plants, nuclear sites, etc.- “that’s too expensive! Let the market figure it out…”

  30. It is contemptible for the government to be trying to guard the people in this way.

    Clearly, the right way to approach this is to follow Constitutional intent, ie, arm the people.

    All airline passengers on international flights should be required to carry firearms in cabin baggage. If they are pussy Europeans who don’t own guns, they can be issued one at departure (after clearing security so there are no hassles with limpdick Europansy gun control laws).

  31. This is the dumbest thing I’ve heard of, we are quickly turning this country into the last place that people will want to visit.

  32. *sigh* Logic and reason have never been one of the Bush administrations strong points, but this is just so misguided on so many levels. Sometimes the “war on terror” reminds me of one of those sci-fi movies/stories where somebody goes back in time to stop something from happening, but instead acts as the catalyst for CAUSING it to happen in the first place; they enact these kinds of regulations to make life safer/better (I assume, maybe I’m wrong on that point), but are just making like more difficult for both tourists and Americans.

  33. #34 andythebrit

    “If they are pussy Europeans who don’t own guns, they can be issued one at departure (after clearing security so there are no hassles with limpdick Europansy gun control laws).”

    Ah dear god please tell me this is a joke, or a troll at least.

    If not,christ on a bike what kind of tard are you?

  34. I’m joking of course, but it is the logical endpoint of NRA “guns prevent crime” reasoning.

    And in fact, it seems to me there would be a problem say with a plane arriving from the US with armed marshalls on board into say the UK where guns are basically illegal. I guess there is a protocol to cover eg security for visiting VIPs, military personnel etc, but it might have to be modified/extended.

  35. Dear George W. Bush,

    Go fuck yourself, asshole. When you’re done, stop pissing off the rest of the world and acting like you run the whole goddamn planet.


    An American who is sick and tired of being ashamed of his country.


    Dear Europe,

    So sorry about this. We tried to send this joker back to Texas a few years ago, but . . . well, you know what happened.


    An American who is hoping you’ll give us another chance.

  36. I believe the best solution comes from The Kid From Brooklyn, a clip of the full video is available here- http://www.thekidfrombrooklyn.com/video_disp_preview.asp?videoid=17

    I wish her still had it up for free, or if anyone knows of a source for it. It is about the cops searching for weapons on bat day at Yankee Stadium. He figures that if you just issue a Louisville Slugger to each passenger as they board then security will be no problem.
    I guess folks need to accept that giving up freedom to protect freedom is the fastest way to loose your freedom. I may not have to be willing to face the British on the local town square but I do have to be willing to accept some level of risk if I want to have a reasonable wait time at the airport. Or just have someone w/some brains that are not corned beef w/delusions of grandeur handle security. Every time I hear a report about the TSA/HS doing something stupid or killing some innocent person I here the mother from the Adam Sandler bit screeching “they’ll laugh at you!!”. Please other citizens of the world, if you come to visit & actually make it out onto the street, get to know some of us. We’re not all that silly.

  37. @ #24 posted by Papermache , February 20, 2008 8:22 AM

    “US flights headed over to Alaska from the mainland.”

    Last time I checked, Alaska was the mainland. Perhaps you were thinking of Hawaii, the 50th state, not the 49th.

    Ah yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s a little thing called Canada between your mainland and Alaska.
    So no, Alaska is not part of the US mainland.

  38. # 40, Haroun

    I know some US citizens from chatting with them on the internet, and i once had a visitor from PA staying for some months.
    As in every country, there are the cool guys and the insane dipshits.

    Too bad those insane dipshits always and everywhere get politicians, because they’re either too dumb or too lazy to find a real job.

    (Sorry about my polemic bitching, i just can’t stand the bullshit politicians and so-called security experts are doing to us each and every day.)

  39. I don’t know if anyone will see this, since it’s been a while, but I just got this. I sent an email to my congressman when I saw this link asking what he was doing about it and gave him the link. This is what I got back:

    Thank you for contacting me about airline safety.

    The U.S. State Department is currently seeking bilateral agreements with certain European countries regarding international air travel. It has been reported that the State Department in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security is seeking revisions to current international travel policies that would require passengers to provide more information than they are currently providing before they fly to the United States from certain countries. When considering whether to revise these policies, I believe it would be most prudent to weigh the civil liberties of those passengers, possible effects such a policy would have on the U.S. tourism industry, and most importantly the security of the United States.

    Thank you again for contacting me about this matter. I appreciate hearing from you and assure you that I will always do my best to represent the views of my constituents in Congress. In the future, please do not hesitate to call at (202) 225-4476 or contact me through my website at http://www.chrismurphy.house.gov, where you can sign up to receive updates through MurphMail, my electronic newsletter.

    Every Best Wish,

    Christopher S. Murphy
    Member of Congress

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot? Way to say nothing!

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