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U.S. Begins Digital Fingerprinting In Airports 1174

Posted by timothy
from the fingers-bitte dept.
lemist writes "Cross Match has rolled out digital fingerprinting at major airports in the United States according to MSNBC. It's designed to increase border security. They appear to be using Cross Match's Verifier 300 LC. Note that the actual capture of the fingerprint requires no interaction with the device. It determines when the image quality is excellent and grabs it."
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U.S. Begins Digital Fingerprinting In Airports

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  • by Brahmastra (685988) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:07PM (#7898779)
    28 countries are exempt from this testing including a lot of western european countries where the Sept 11th terrorists moved around with impunity. This fingerprinting scheme aint going to fix anything.
    • by 1029 (571223) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:11PM (#7898815) Homepage Journal
      What I really like is Brazil's answer to this: they are now stopping and fingerprinting and photographing all US visitors. Tit-for-tat, the way it should be. And it wouldn't at all stop me from visting Brazil, just as it probably won't stop many Brazilians from coming here.
      • by jorlando (145683) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:37PM (#7899079)
        It's being used here just to pressure the Brazilian Foreign Relationships Dept to act on behalf of Brazilians travelling to US, so they can be included in the list of citizens that don't need previous identification.

        That law will probably be overruled in the next few days, since it wasn't issued by the Brazilian Supreme Court (don't ask... regional courts can issue directives that are valid for all country, and that can be overruled in superior courts... you don't want to understand the Brazilian legal system, believe me...)

        The federal government is moving against it and also the State of Rio de Janeiro, since it can have an impact in the tourists flow, since the fingerprinting here is being done manually (cardboards were you put your fingerprint)

        The relationship with foreign citizens here is based on reciprocity: i.e., the treatment applied is the same that a given country apply to Brazilian citizens. Eg. frenchs, englishes, portugueses don't need visas to come here, since their countries don't ask for visas from us. Americans need visas since they require visas from us.

        That's why the only citizens asked for fingerprinting are the americans: is the only country asking that kind of identification from us.

        I agree with this, since is the only way to pressure both governments (US and Brazil) to find some alternative.

        I also agree that the law was passed hastily, without giving time to the Brazilian federal Police to acquire a more modern equipment (digital fingerprinting is available here) and allocate more personal to do the job, so american tourists are waiting loooooong time to be identified. It is nasty, but is not personal...

        • by John Harrison (223649) <johnharrisonNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:22PM (#7899456) Homepage Journal
          This is reciprocity for reciprocity's sake and nothing more. Even if a digital fingerprint system was deployed (at huge cost) what would they be comparing the fingerprints against? Who will pay for a big fat AFIS system? Even a small one is expensive.

          Which actually raises a good question. What is the US comparing fingerprints against? Do we have terrorist fingerprints on file? I would guess that we don't have too many.

          While I love Brazil (lived there for two years) I think this policy of knee-jerk reciprocity is a bit immature. Brazil needs to realize that people visiting the USA from Brazil are far more likely to simply make their visit permanent (illegally) than people visiting Brazil from the USA. Once that situation has changed then we can start talking about lifting visa requirements. Somehow I don't think that Lula is going to make much progress on the matter, but I wish him the best of luck.

          • by notAyank (597271) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:35AM (#7900342)
            I watched a discussion on News Hour with Jim Lehrer and the points made about this were:

            1. The budget for starting this program was between 300 - 400 Million US (i forget the exact figure), but the estimated budget required to make it effective was something like 20 Billion. The question was raised as th where this money was going to come from.

            2. There were concerns, as the parent points out, that although the US-VISIT system would be collecting a lot of information on visitors to the US that is currently getting lost, left unprocessed or wildly innacurate, the intelligence databases that the data is being compared to are not up to scratch. Apparently far greater cooperation from the intelligence agencies is required to make this thing work.

            3. The system would be good for identifying people who had overstayed their visas or had been deported in the past, but would also penalise people who had overstayed with good reason, for example people who could not leave the country due to illness or some other valid reason. So if you could not take your flight because of an ear infection, you would be in danger of not being allowed back into the country on your next visit.

    • by plj (673710) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:15PM (#7898858)
      But you should be a citizen of one of those 28 to get excluded, if I've understood correctly. AFAIK, the Sept 11th terrorists weren't, although they'd lived in Europe.

      I'm not perfectly sure, however - please correct if I'm wrong.
      • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:22PM (#7898941) Journal

        But you should be a citizen of one of those 28 to get excluded, if I've understood correctly. AFAIK, the Sept 11th terrorists weren't, although they'd lived in Europe.

        You're missing the point. All the terrorists have to do is get a forged passport from one of those countries and they'll slip through. A security net with tons of holes doesn't do any good.

        On a related topic, does anyone know what the Pfa (probability of false alarm) for fingerprint matches is? It would be interesting to take this number, multiply it by the number of people coming into the country every day (subtracing out those from the magic 28 countries) and figure out how many jet-lag weary travelers are going to be in for one hell of a rude shock when they get to America.

        GMD

        • by The Only Druid (587299) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:09PM (#7899359)
          Um, you're missing the point: ALL of the exempt countries, by rule, will be required to be machine readable, including identification information required to access the criminal/terrorist databases in the US and in the parent country. This means a forgery would not only have to be visually accurate, but also have to include a false reference including a photo who looks like the person, as well as a clean criminal record.
      • Zacarias Moussaoui, supposedly involved in 9/11, is a French citizen. Richard Reid, the "Shoe bomber" on an AA flight, is British. There must be more where those came from. All countries should be fingerprinted if this is to be an effective measure.
    • by jaxdahl (227487) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:24PM (#7898955)
      Actually, those countries already have compatible passports which contain most/all of the information that this system captures anyway, so it isn't that big of a deal.
      • by radish (98371)
        No they dont. I have never been printed in my life until I arrived at JFK the other day. Ergo, in terms of identifying me, the check was entirely pointless.
    • by no soup for you (607826) <{jesse.wolgamott} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:31PM (#7899022) Homepage
      But those 28 countries must begin using digital passports in a couple of months. And if they don't, then they'll be subject to these same rules.
      • by radish (98371) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:24AM (#7900284) Homepage
        Also not true. My (UK) passport is machine readable sure, but there's no extra data on there. No country in europe is planning (in the near future) to reissue all passports with encoded biometric data. Some people are talking about such things, but they're many years away from happening.
    • by donnz (135658) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:43PM (#7899137) Homepage Journal
      including a lot of western european countries where the Sept 11th terrorists moved around with impunity

      Well, they also moved around the USA with "impunity". In fact, they used USA based training facilities to learn how to fly planes. They also used internal *not* international flights.

      So, finger print and photograph all internal passengers first, please. Put your gun totting marshals on all intenal flights, then if you find all that acceptable extend it to international flights (most European countries already have had way better airport security than the US has for a long time).
  • Yeah (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:07PM (#7898781)
    Welcome to gattaca !
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:08PM (#7898789)
    Don't be mad when I offer the middle one.
  • I think it's good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ActionPlant (721843) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:08PM (#7898790) Homepage
    I don't think this is a problem. I see how some people think this might be an invasion of privacy, and hey, if they put this thing in random public places, especially without letting us know, yes I'd be upset. But this is in AIRPORTS. You're required to check in before you ever get on the plane anyway. I think it's just another means of making sure that people who are on these planes really are who they say they are. That can't be a bad thing.

    Damon,
    • For a government to verify identity by means of passport examination is one thing. To keep personal, biometric data on file, however, is entirely different and something that most governments should not consider doing to their own citizens. Should other countries really accept that the U.S. government has more data on their citizens than those other countries themselves?

      No invasion of privacy? Bull! If you really think so, please go down to your local precinct and volunteer to have your fingerprint taken

      • by ZPO (465615) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:17PM (#7899414)
        Like another respondent my fingerprints have already been volutarily given the the USMC, NCIS, SAPD, DIS, and about 5-6 other agencies I have no clear recollection of at the present time.

        If you want to get in your personal vehicle, drive across several state lines, pay cash all the way, never stay in a hotel, and not have the capability to endanger anyone else as a part of that travel (other than lousy driving) then please feel free to do so.

        If, on the other hand, you want to get on an airplane for a domestic flight be prepared for some screening. Why? Because you are not getting on a public air carrier with a bunch of other people.

        By the same token if you're flying internationally then be prepared to furnish your identity on entrance/exit from all countries along the route. Its just the way it is in the real world.

    • by gorbachev (512743) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:26PM (#7898982) Homepage
      So...what are you going to say when they extend this program to include US citizens/residents?

      It's going to come...

      What are you going to say when foreign countries are all going to start doing this to all foreigners entering their countries?

      Proletariat of the world, unite to kill hypocricy
  • ....And? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by OtakuHawk (682073) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:08PM (#7898792)
    So they have my fingerprint... Are they taking names and other info, or are they just going to have a database full of 5 billion fingerprint entries, but no names?
    • Re:....And? (Score:3, Informative)

      by radish (98371)
      Well there's this thing called a "passport". It has your name, and your DOB, and your photo and a bunch of other stuff. And they look at that at the same time they take your prints. So I think maybe yes, maybe they do record the name against it. Whaddya reckon?
  • What next ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by noelo (661375) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:08PM (#7898793)
    Anal probes ?????
  • Lineup (Score:5, Funny)

    by mhlandrydotnet (677863) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:10PM (#7898803)
    Now, all we need to do is to have terrorists send us in a copy of their finger prints so we can keep em on file.
  • Easy to bypass. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:13PM (#7898834) Journal
    All they have to do is walk across the damn borders (north or south).

  • by segment (695309) <sil @ p o l i t rix.org> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:14PM (#7898854) Homepage Journal

    Wired magazine
    02:00 AM Oct. 23, 2002 PDT

    A surprise decision by the Food and Drug Administration permits the use of implantable ID chips in humans, despite an FDA investigator's recent public reservations about the devices.

    The FDA sent chip manufacturer Applied Digital Solutions a letter stating that the agency would not regulate the VeriChip if it was used for "security, financial and personal identification or safety applications," ADS said Tuesday.

    But the FDA has not determined whether the controversial chip can be used for medical purposes, including linking to medical databases, the company added...

    Supposedly, (supposedly) DoD was looking into this as a replacement for military dogtags, and the BOP (Bureau of Prisons) was supposedly looking into it. Now sounds far fetched but according to the companies press releases: September 29, 2003 - Applied Digital Solutions, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSX), an advanced technology development company, today announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, VeriChip Corporation, has retained the services of Stanley "Stan" L. Reid, a longtime technology industry executive and former congressional aide with extensive experience and wide contacts in Washington, D.C., to market VeriChip(TM) secure identification solutions to federal agencies.

    ...

    Since 1996, Mr. Reid has served as president of Strategic Sciences, a Washington, D.C.-area consulting firm that specializes in marketing advanced technologies to the federal government. Mr. Reid has particular expertise in selling new, introductory technologies to government agencies, including the Departments of Defense (DoD), Energy (DoE) and State, as well as the agencies that have been incorporated into the Department of Homeland Security. (source [adsx.com])

    Just think if they decided to do away with Social Security, or made this a standard for newer borns a-la vaccinations... Oh well that's why I'm glad I support the war on terror [politrix.org]

    • I'm under the impression that dog tags are required by the Geneva Convention. I don't think an implant like this would satisfy the requirement. But I could just be making this up.
  • by psyconaut (228947) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:15PM (#7898857)
    Please excuse our xenophobic and jingoistic tendancies. Ya'll have a nice day now!

    -psy
  • by TDScott (260197) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:15PM (#7898863)
    The Department of Homeland Security put out a PDF leaflet [dhs.gov] about the program, which contained their normal, almost incomprehensible pictograms like those on ready.gov [ready.gov]

    I thought they needed some better, and funnier, subtitles [thomasscott.net].
  • Orwellian... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by highwaytohell (621667) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:16PM (#7898876)
    Well the US Govt has a stance of trust nobody, my question is whats going to stop a guy with three suitcases full of plastic explosives walking into an Airport and making a crater out of it. Fingerprints arent gonna help much then. All these security measures are just put in place to make the people feel safe, however a plane could come from a foreign country which doesnt have or cant afford to implement this technology. Osama is still to be caught, intelligence has done nothing, and you dont hear of any new breaks in locating him. All we see is his head on Al Jazeera threatening to eradicate the infidels. When Sept 11 occured, no one knew who these guys were, they could have been on the plane just as easily with the fingerprint technology implemented then. The real threat is knowing who your enemy is. All we have is one face, we dont have his many followers. This could just lead to a witch hunt of massive proportions
  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:19PM (#7898909) Homepage
    Brazil treads on US fingers [telegraphindia.com] (I out-sourced it to an Indian site. :^)
    Washington has been upset by Brazil's tit-for-tat reaction to the US-VISIT system that went into force yesterday with digital technology after a year of preparation. US travellers have complained of up to nine-hour delays at Rio de Janeiro airport where Brazilian immigration authorities, only told of the order last week, are using inkpads and paper.
    Well gee, travellers upset by security measures, imagine that! (Inkpads and paper sound like non-security.) Looks like the Brazilian governement as a whole is undecided about this, "not foreign policy".
    • by Jungle guy (567570) <brunolmailbox-ge ... NSTEIN.br minus > on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:35PM (#7899059) Journal
      I am Brazilian, and all I can say is that I feel embarrassed by this. The fingerprinting on American airports is an overreaction and a sign of paranoia, but at least there is some justification - less than 3 years ago hundreds of lives were lost in an act of terrorism. The Brazilian fingerprinting of American citizens is simply a payback, and completely childish.

      To make mater worse, it was decided by a judge from a small state. The government, and not the courts, should decide on matters of international relations, and so I think this absurd will not go on for a long time. Even so, the Brazilian authorities are working very hard to look stupid, surpassing the American government.

      • by CountBrass (590228) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @07:46AM (#7901766)

        *IF* you're actually a Brazillian perhaps you should know your own country better before spewing forth.

        Brazil has laws, passed by the national government, that Brazil treats foreign visitors the same way their nationals get treated by them. So the US starts fingerprinting Brazilians then the Brazilians start finger printing US visitors.

        All the local court did was confirm that this law applied. They didn't "make it up" or anything silly like that.

  • Yep. (Score:4, Informative)

    by nadavspi (631105) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:20PM (#7898920)
    We got ours taken at the American Embassy in Israel when we were there a few weeks ago (were there to get a new visa stamp).
    Anyone 14 or over is required to have their prints taken, and chcked every time they enter the US.
    The article is right; it really didn't take that much longer than usual. As long as it doesn't slow the already crappy process to go through at 5 AM after a 12 hour flight, it doesn't really bother me.
  • by luckytroll (68214) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:21PM (#7898929) Homepage
    Dehomag (the German branch of Hollerith - the ancestor of IBM) got its start assisting the Germans with a similar effort - using computing technology (punched cards) to track all kinds of things in the interest of security, efficiency, and thoroughness. They got their start automating the census, and wound up empowering governments with then unheard of levels of efficiency in attaining many of their goals, despite the changing nature of those goals.

    Again we are seeing a watershed moment in the efficiency, security and thoroughness of states ability to enforce their policies. Lets hope that this time the population will gain a proportional increase in control over the agenda of the state.

    The alternative will be no less than a repetition of history.
  • by binarybum (468664) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:29PM (#7899014) Homepage
    This sounds like a place to rub a little anthrax.. well except for the fact that it would be targeting non-US citizens.
    Seriously though, how many people will touch this same couple of cm of space within the same day, one right after another. I hope they have considered a way to keep this surface sterile - perhaps a UV backlight or something. Otherwise this sounds like an international virus hub.
  • by macdaddy357 (582412) <macdaddy357@hotmail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:30PM (#7899020)
    Digital fingerprints? That's redundant. Fingers are also called digits.
  • by rjethmal (619327) <<rjethmal> <at> <gmail.com>> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @10:31PM (#7899026)
    ... at Miami International. I just got back from winter break back home in Panama. The actual process is quite simple and none of the people I saw going through it seemed to have any problem with it, pretty much everyone seems to accept it as one more thing the US is doing in its effort to 'protect' itself.

    It's almost business as usual at the airport, customs officers just have two new toys: the fingerprint scanner and a webcam. The added hassle is less than 20 seconds. Left index, right index, look at the camera, done.

    Do I think it's a Good Thing? Not really, do I mind? Not really, after all, I'm not a terrorist!
  • Psychic stunt (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdifool (678774) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:02PM (#7899297) Homepage Journal
    Hi,

    how funny is this article that unwillingly proves the inefficiency of that measure.

    After a short presentation, we have the list of countries that are exempted from having their tourists and/or workers scanned. Which countries are these ? Europe, Japan, Australia. I can understand for the two latters, but if September 11th proved something, it's that terrorist networks are deep-rooted in Western societies, especially Europe and the US. So, guys, you still have until October to make a great deal of this measure.
    Plus a nice snippet in this paragraph : The travel data are supposed to be securely stored. Oh, Yeah.

    The funniest thing is that people do believe in that kind of crap. They think it will make their country more secure. They think that preventing a crime or other legal issues -(Oh, Yeah)- charged person will prevent them from having some other non-beared people bombing towers with suicide planes. Or maybe it's the governement that initially thinks it will make the people more confident. Until the next time. But for now it's working. Psychological assault, well done.

    Apart from that, there are remarks to make on a more general scale :

    • What kind of diplomatic measure is this to exclude countries from a policy, just because they enjoy the same wealth as you do ? What kind of antipoor racism is that ? If they had based that on security researches trying to determine potential threats, ok. But, Brazil ? Argentina ? Chile ? The US governement really seems to want to widen the gap.
    • I'm not aiming the US in particular ; the EU does the same with the Shengen visa towards poor countries. This is a general policy amongst Western societies
    • And in my opinion, this is where radicalism, and at last terrorism, stems from. The governements may understand that terrorism cannot be avoided. Look the situation in Palestine ; security has been Israel prime target for 15 years now, and where are the results ? Policies have to focus on the causes, not the consequences. Why terrorism ? Has anyone ever asked ? We should wonder about the Arab world, I mean how do they consider us, what's their state of mind internally, how do they compare to us, what do they want to resist, why are they so proud. Some questions that are rather fundamental to the understanding of a problem that can't be avoided by security. Repeat please : CAN'T be avoided by security.

    Again, I'm not trying to depict a black and white landscape. It's not the Arabs versus the Americans. But indeed it has some things to do with the global relationship of the West with them. Think about it ; we've been playing the geopolitic bastards with them for more than a century now. How may they feel ?

    Regards,
    jdif

    Reminder : I'm not Arab :)

  • by Ironix (165274) <(steffen) (at) (norgren.ca)> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:19PM (#7899435) Homepage
    I live in Canada, which is one of the "exempt" countries, but this exemption hasn't stopped the U.S. from fingerprinting and photographing Canadians of Persian descent.

    Basically this exemption is for white people of European descent in the end...

    I won't bother mentioning the frightening parallels this brings to mind...
  • by Gorimek (61128) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:23PM (#7899468) Homepage
    You know how you only get one chance to make a first impression?

    The US government has already exploited that chance by forcing all foreign visitors to fill out an insane form on the plane, asking among many, many other mostly bizarre things
    • Have you ever engaged in genocide, or otherwise ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in the killing of any person because of race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, or political opinion?
    • Do you plan to practice polygamy in the U.S.?
    • Do you intend to engage in the U.S. in espionage?
    ...on top of this, they will now be fingerprinted and mug shot at arrival. I'm sure I don't need to spell out what first impression this will give the average traveller.
    • by BSDevil (301159) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @12:20AM (#7899917) Journal
      You forgot about the one asking if you were a Nazi.

      Anyways, the first time I saw that form I too was curious, so I asked a lawyer-friend about the rationale of asking questions that everyone will say no to. Apparently, that's the idea. You say no, and then sign the dotted line saying that everything is true, under penalty of arrest and perjury. So if you happen to be a terrorist or spy, they can pick you up on lying on your immigration form, and then get more time to get a real case. It also makes it much easier to deport you.

      Remember Al Capone: he may have been famous for the Mob, but he got nailed for tax evasion.
  • by TerryAtWork (598364) <research@aceretail.com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:24PM (#7899474)
    In spite of their propensity for guns and the fact that they make bitchin' tanks, the Americans know jack about security.

    Before it was 'This is a picture of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers' now it will be 'This is a picture of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. These are the fingerprints of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. This is the retinal print of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 hijackers. This is how many hairs he had on his left butt cheek. This is how many hairs he his on his RIGHT butt cheek....'

    The point is all you REALLY needed to know was that he was an Al-Quida sleeper agent, and they didn't know that.

  • by plimsoll (247070) <5dj82jy7c001.sneakemail@com> on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:47PM (#7899680) Homepage

    Four days ago I took LH444 from Frankfurt am Main to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta, and I was surprised to see this, uh- system in person.

    The fingerprint scanners were pretty snazzy, but the cameras at each officer's desk looked like cheap spherical plastic webcams ziptied to even cheaper-looking lectern microphone holders.

    As a US citizen and ostensible taxpayer ;) I'm actually somewhat impressed they considered off-the-shelf consumer products. OTOH, I don't feel any safer, but a more-expensive camera would have no effect on that feeling.

    Has anyone else seen these? I'm curious whether these cheap cams are strictly an ATL thing - which would be strange considering it's the biggest airport in the country - or if this is a standard observed at the other ports of entry.

    (
    Nicht vergessen: photography and use of cellphones by passengers is prohibited in these areas. I got excoriated for just looking at my handy in line.)
  • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:48PM (#7899685)
    Aren't all fingerprints digital?
  • Am I the only one? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by utlemming (654269) on Tuesday January 06, 2004 @11:58PM (#7899773) Homepage
    Am I the only one that really does not care or see the controvery hear? I guess my point is if you have such a problem being finger-printed on the way in then don't come. The only thing that I am annoyed with is how come everyone doesn't get finger printed and photographed. If you get a Texas DL you get finger printed and photograhped. The US should be allowed to track people as they come and leave the US. It is the right of the country to deny and admit people into the United States and knowing who is in the country is not a big deal. For the most part the United States Government knows about 99.9% of the polulace from tax records and drivers licenses. It is not so much of a leap nor an extreme injustice to know about the aliens visiting. Just because the US is going to start to track those visiting, and thereby knowing who they are, is no more intrusive than your local DMV, the IRS, Social Security Admin, et al, knowing about you.

    Then the other thing that is blowing my mind is how come Brazil is having such a problem with this. I can understand that they feel a little singled out, but this reciprosity seems a little extreme. It is not like the US is singling out Brazilians only -- just those countries were we have the Visa-waiver program in effect.

    This is seriously a non-issue.

  • joke's on us (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:08AM (#7900196) Homepage Journal
    These "homeland security" measures that Bush and Ridge are saddling us with are a giant conjob. I travel around NYC, and they've reduced the NYPD to a bunch of overtime crossing guards. If I were sick enough to want to sabotage something big enough to get on TV, it would be really easy. The airports are just as porous. Meanwhile, the Sunday before New Year's Eve, somebody buzzed their small plane around the Statue of Liberty ( under a mile from the hole where the World Trade Center stood) for several minutes before the FAA even warned them away from that closed airspace. During a Christmas/New Year week of steady Orange Alert. Any heads roll? Any tightening of the security? Found any "evil doers"? No. This is a scam to keep us scared, obedient, and ignorant of the very real changes the Feds are pulling on us.

    If you want to know why, just think about all those military contractors that Bush was going to hook up with "missile defense shield" contracts ($100s of billions - trillions). After the WTC planebombings, they couldn't convince anyone the #1 threat was missiles. So they turned their proposals and whitepapers into "TerrorWar" marketing and "Iraqmire" lobbying. Do you think all that Pentagon biz development just went away? They need that money! And they're getting it. But they don't have actual TerrorWar products, so they're just keeping up the smokescreens and scapegoats while they retool. By the time we catch on and get tired of just rounding up foreign looking people, their systematic abuse of every possible fringe group will probably have produced actual nuts who will follow Osama bin Laden's career highlight. Then the contractors will be able to say "I warned you", and keep business rolling. Unless we start calling them on it, and stop playing along by watching their TerrorTV and taking them seriously.
  • Not so bad (Score:5, Funny)

    by Gorimek (61128) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:09AM (#7900202) Homepage
    One problem is that even if you can correctly identify every single person entering the country, you can't stop any terrorists until they have a known terror record.

    Still, this should effectively put a stop to anyone attempting their second suicide bombing! And that's no worse than most of these anti terror programs.
  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @01:35AM (#7900343) Homepage
    Not much has happened for several years now, after all. Terrorism deaths never came close to equalling deaths from drunk driving, industrial accidents related to safety violations, medical errors, AIDS. Not even in 2001. Economically, corporate fraud is a far bigger problem than terrorism.

    The US has dealt with the problem. bin Laden was at one point Minister of Defense of Afghanistan. Right before the US crushed that government flat. No country is going to tolerate "terrorist training camps" aimed at the US for years to come.

    So lighten up already. Yes, there will be incidents in future. But they'll probably come from some completely different direction, like the Oklahoma City bombing, which was done by 100% Americans. We'll have to deal with that when it comes.

    With all these Orange Alerts recently ("They're going to attack on Xmas - no, New Years - in Rapahannock County - no, LA - no, Vegas") it's beginning to look like al Queda is down to a couple of guys mouthing off to get attention.

  • crash ola (Score:4, Interesting)

    by megabulk3000 (305530) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @02:03AM (#7900525) Homepage
    ...and tonight, as I was trying to rush through customs from one flight to a connecting flight, the entire validation system went down for about 15 minutes, leaving me and about 200 other people in a panic of nailbiting anxiety. The customs agent told me that the crash was due to their having installed the new software needed for the fingerprinting and photo database, and apparently the system had gone down all over the US. All the agents were issued backup CDs to boot up from (although my agent seemed to be having a hard time figuring out how to put the CD into the drive) and then things were back to normal, although presumably without the new photo/fingerprinting system. All the computers were running W2K Professional and had a cool (tho ominous) Department of Homeland Security logo on them.
  • by Sean Clifford (322444) on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @03:25AM (#7900936) Journal
    I grew up during the Cold War and my family was deployed in Europe (pre-NATO Spain con mucho anti-NATO, anti-American, pro-Communist sentiment) during Reagan's first administration. On the way to the base schools, we passed through two checkpoints with identity checks by machinegun toting jackoffs (Spanish at the 1st, American at the 2nd) and mirrors run under the bus (1st, sometimes both), often dogs through it for good measure (only 2nd). They said they were looking for 'drugs' but we knew they were looking out for bombs.

    There were several terrorist incidents when we were stationed overseas - I witnessed one, my family avoided one thanks to our chronically late mother (Thanks, Mom!), and some escaped Basque nationalists stole our car (that was not fun). Three in three years if you discount the occassional ass-beating by local teens who hated Americans (well, us anyway), a riot (my bad), and the consequences of unwise activities by myself and fellow American teens (often misguided patriotism or plain mischief).

    Nevertheless, the other 99.5% of the time we were as safe and sound as bugs in a rug, living in a great country with kind and friendly people, immersed in a rich culture, surrounded by millennia of history, and had a fantastic time. Those are the times that I remember and cherish - going to the Prado, walking through El Escorial, marveling at the Valley of the Fallen, visiting the tombs of Saints, roaming through ancient castles, seeing the Hanging Gardens, touching Queen Isabella's jewelry box (it was about the size of my Shuttle XPC), meeting Queen Sofia...and tons more great experiences.

    Even at the height of tensions between American military folks and Spanish civilians (during the biological warfare accident/linseed oil poisoning of olive oil) we - the Americans - were never subject to the invasive 'security checks' foreign visitors experience coming to the United States.

    Fast forward exactly 20 years from January of 1984 (when we settled into our new stateside duty station)...

    The Patriot Act I and II, fingerprint scanning, CAP fighter and Apache patrols over American cities, "orange" terrorist alerts, "war on terrorism" with ever-shifting definitions of "terrorist", jailing of American citizens without charge for years, propoganda in American media ---

    After one terrorist incident in three years (albeit a terrible one) wrecking the peaceful tranquility of the nation's daily domestic tragedies, America is moving toward a police state. Even as hopping Spain was with machinegun toting Spanish military dudes and several terrorist incidents (bombings, shootings, mass poisonings), 99.5% of the time everything was cool and there wasn't nearly the level of hysterical anti-democratic overreaction we've seen here in the United States. Nobody got on TV to talk about how terribly vulnerable to terrorism we were; everyone knew it. Nobody went out to fingerprint, track, and data-mine everyone in the world - you just needed proper ID; match face to picture and signature to signature.

    All the security in the world isn't going to stop terrorism; just ask Israel - it probably has the best-trained and equipped security forces on the face of the planet. By their own figures they stop 90% of suicide bombers, but nobody can stop them all. The Palestinian resistance has demonstrated its capability to carry out a 'successful' bombing on a daily basis - killing a dozen or more civilians and wounding scores - terrorizing millions.

    Even if we could wall up everything, put cops on every street corner, monitor and surveille whoever we wished - we cannot stop terrorism, not without addressing the root cause that motivates people to kill themselves and a bunch of people. And I'm not talking religion here.

    I'm talking a sane foreign policy that doesn't make enemies out of everyone we walk over or steal from to 'protect our national interests' - or enemies of the 'friends and allies' with whom we used to divvy up the spoils.

    Instead, we need a policy that simultaneously roots out genuine terrorists while helping those who have a legitimate beef with us for having trampled all over them. We need to focus on reducing the environment that breeds terrorists and terrorism, not fueling it.

  • by kmichels (161476) <konrad@nospam.michels.co.uk> on Wednesday January 07, 2004 @04:42AM (#7901216)
    Looking at all this ruckus about fingerprinter etc from a European (UK) perspective, and having spent 30 years of my life before that in South Africa, I think that all these measures are nothing more than a Dog & Pony show: smoke and mirrors . ..

    In the bad old days of South African Apartheid, the white government legislated all kinds of things, pumped millions into the security forces, and spent huge chunks of the budget on trying to prevent attacks by "terrorists" from the banned liberation organisations such as the ANC and PAC. What good did that do? Sweet blue blow-all. All it did was challenge those organisations to be more creative about infiltrating their cadre's and hitmen & women into society, and the bombings continued, as did the agitation. Leaders of these organisations were identified and incarcerated, to no avail. It just didn't work, despite the fact that it turned the country into a police state.

    Likewise, there is SBFA that the American administration can do to prevent determined terrorists from getting into the country and committing acts of terrorism - nothing at all. Personally, if I were an American citizen, I'd be protesting about the pointless waste of my tax dollars.

    The only way the USA can make itself less of a target, is to change its arrogant attitude toward the rest of the world: realise that not everyone wants to live like an average American, and not everyone defines freedom and democracy in the same way as the USA does. In the same way that the freedom movements in South Africa were rebelling against the arrogant tyrany of the white government, who considered its world-view to be normative, there are nations out there who see the USA's attitude in much the same light.

    I don't in any way condone the use of violence as a means of protest, and what happenned on 911 was just not on, not for any reason, but once again drawing a parallel with what happened in apartheid South Africa: put yourself in the shoes of the average oppressed black man for just a moment. Your back is to the wall: there's no more room for manuever. What option do you have but to resort to violence? Especially if that is all the government understands?

    In this respect the USA (and Tony Blah) is supremely guilty: the WMD ruse was just an excuse to use an option that should have been an absolute last resort. What options do those nations have where the USA and other western nations have interfered but to resort to violence?

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