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US Expands Fingerprint and Mugshot Program for Visitors 1073

Posted by michael
from the why-do-you-hate-america dept.
prakslash writes "The US State Department has expanded its anti-terrorist fingerprinting program to include visitors from close US allies such as the UK, Australia, France, Germany and Japan. Everytime a visitor enters or leaves the US, they will have to get their mugshot and fingerprints taken - something that used to be mainly limited to your local police precinct. More news can be found here and here. In addition to the huge costs involved, one has to wonder if this will affect tourism to this country." Hmmm, a huge database of digital mugshots and digital fingerprints, which will be kept forever - hope we have enough RAM to search through it quickly and constantly.
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US Expands Fingerprint and Mugshot Program for Visitors

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  • what do you want? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mixtape5 (762922) <hckymanr@yahoo.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:02PM (#8753051) Journal
    freedom or safety? Why are we so willing to comprimise our rights? Where does it stop?

    Just some questions...
  • by Heartz (562803) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:03PM (#8753054) Homepage
    This is why these laws won't work.
    • If somebody is going to commit something illegal, he'll probably enter the country illegally. Probably through the porous mexican border or the huge coastline that the US has.

    • Secondly, this is downright disrespectful. Detractors will argue that it's for the safety of the US. Well, I really don't see how it'll help. Once the dude is in the country, and has committed the offence, this sort of system is absolutely worthless. Effort should be put into preventing these sort of tragedies. Efforts like putting more effort into the Israel Palestine crisis, managing Iraq more effectively, stop being so patriachal and showing more respect to the citizens of the world.
    I for one, will be taking my tourist dollars elsewhere. Where the authorities respect me. Where I'm not treated like a criminal and people realise that not everybody is out to get them.
    • by SquierStrat (42516) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:11PM (#8753107) Homepage
      Likewise, if someone is going to commit a crime with a firearm he'll probably aquire that firearm illegally, or possibly possess it illegally (if he or she is a prior felon.) Yet people still support gun control legislation (or in some cases outright gun bans) do they not?
      • by AresTheImpaler (570208) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:21PM (#8753170)
        Likewise, if someone is going to commit a crime with a firearm he'll probably aquire that firearm illegally, or possibly possess it illegally (if he or she is a prior felon.) Yet people still support gun control legislation (or in some cases outright gun bans) do they not?

        it's not the same. a better comparison IMHO would be gun conrols and getting a visa which is a permit to get into the country. Which is a good thing. So I think instead of making everyone feel like criminals by doing this, they should focus on a better way to check backgrounds, etc. when giving out visas. Also it would be a good thing to have very secure visas as to not have someone have their own fake visa.
        I dont know if I'm making much sense.. alcohol is not letting me think...

        • by SquierStrat (42516) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:54PM (#8753387) Homepage
          Actually, it is the same thing: they are both laws which assume that law abiding people are the ones who commit crimes.

          However, let's also think about this: name 1 person who has committed a terrorist act in this country who entered it illegally (not who was here illegally, but who enter here illegally.)

          For the record, I'm opposed to this as I don't think it'll solve much since most islamic terrorists are dead after they commit their act.
      • A lot of politicians support gun control so they can say they care about reducing violent crime without having to tackle real, controversial issues (like poverty). This program is simply another way for the Bush administration to say they're doing something about terrorism, even if its usefulness is questionable.
    • by zx75 (304335) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:11PM (#8753111) Homepage
      Come to Canada! We'll welcome you with open arms if you're a terrorist, and even if you're not!
    • by Jack Porter (310054) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:12PM (#8753117)
      If somebody is going to commit something illegal, he'll probably enter the country illegally


      Actually, most (all?) of the September 11 hijackers entered the USA legally. The problem was that no-one stopped them.


      But I'm not sure how taking their photograph or fingerprints on entry would have done anything to stop it.

      • by ZiggyM (238243) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:34PM (#8753254)
        Actually, I believe parent post is wrong. Most people still dont get the way terrorist most attacks are done, here in Peru where I live (80's shinning path) or the Sept. 11 attack: they will find the easiest way to do it, take advantage of a weakness. If airport security is lax, then take advantage of that and hijack a plane. But now that the security is in-place in airports, of course they will not use that method again.
        Now they will take advantage of other weaknesses, like the ones the parent post mentions (mexican border, etc).
      • by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:38AM (#8753587)
        "Actually, most (all?) of the September 11 hijackers entered the USA legally."

        Depends on how you define "legally." IIRC their applications were horribly out of order and if the people in charge of reviewing the applications did their jobs they wouldn't have gotten into the country. It's like saying that driving at 90 MPH is legal because you didn't get pulled over/tire spiked/whatever.

        All in all, it's just another example of Congress passing new laws when what we really need is better enforcement of existing ones.
      • by Fancia (710007) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:05AM (#8753709)
        But I'm not sure how taking their photograph or fingerprints on entry would have done anything to stop it. It's simple! If you take a photograph, and they don't show up, they're vampires! Voila, no more British terrorist vampires.
      • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:20AM (#8753759)
        Actually, most (all?) of the September 11 hijackers entered the USA legally. The problem was that no-one stopped them.

        The real problem is that most had legal paperwork while entering the country, but then did not leave when that paperwork said they had to. What we really need to do is actually enforce the visa laws, which means when a foriegn student skips too many classes, we find them and throw them outta here. Yeah, it's a bit mean to the student who is harmlessly goofing off... but we can't stand allowing the ones who aren't so harmless being allowed to go untracked.
    • If somebody is going to commit something illegal, he'll probably enter the country illegally.
      Suposedly 9/11 terrorist entered legally USA. Perhaps it will be more effective to remove the people that ignored the warnings [cnn.com]...
      stop being so patriachal and showing more respect to the citizens of the world.
      That would be apreciated :-) but difficult to happen :-( and it would take many many years.
    • by TyrranzzX (617713) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:15PM (#8753139) Journal
      Heh, you forget the logic they'll use.

      If you don't have your papers, then you're obviously a terrorist and it's into the slammer with you. That's how it'll work, you see the grounds for that being put into place today; make people afraid, strip away their rights one by one, catalouge and condition them like sheep. Once you've got them controlled enough and you've got absolute control of the media, begin the cleansing of ideals, er, winning of hearts and minds. If you're a blank on their system, you're not a citizen. If you aren't registered and you're on american soil, then you're a terrorist, and subject to the same treatment as the current round of people are getting at guantanimo, or not if they just decide it's too expensive to export you or make you an american citizen and shoot you.

      Of course, people will forget their papers all the time. There'll be "mistakes", because as we all know, you can't keep that many people in jail. Or people who burn their papers will be thrown into jail. So, of course, they're going to mandate RFID or some kind of mark that can't be taken off. And after everyone has RFID tags, then all the banks and commerce are going to switch over to that system since it's easier and more secure that way.

      Getcha mark of the beast ere', $10!

      Call me a troll if you must, but that's where it's going. The only reason it hasn't already happened is because this pesky internet thing is here and they can't stop it and moreso, more and more people are moving onto the internet and getting their info from alternative sources. Last year fox lost half of it's watchers, and CNN lost a good 25%. The internet takes that control away and helps to put people in power that should be in power.
      • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:37AM (#8753582) Journal
        The only reason it hasn't already happened is because this pesky internet thing is here and they can't stop it and moreso, more and more people are moving onto the internet and getting their info from alternative sources.

        You're probably right. I sure hope you are. One night FOX was speculating whether or not there should be "some kind of control" against "liberal" sites like moveon.org, etc. Obviously they're getting nervous. The gov't is trying to pass some new anti-pirate law, linking P2P with kiddy porn in order to whip up the troops. (old story, I know, but some house sub-committe(sp) just "passed" some new copyright resolution) My point is that they are already worried about the net.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:18PM (#8753154)
      You're right. I also think these laws will not work. They're some sort of "Duck and Cover" for the terrorist threat. The government says "Ladies and Gents, it's not gonna happen again, because we're photographing people and confiscating swiss army knives...".

      Security has been "tightened" at airports. Fingerprinting is already in place, on-line systems and the works. And yet, the Immigration officer will turn to you and ask: "For how long did you stay in the US the last time you've been here?". Damn?!? If they don't know this, how do you expect them to catch terrorists?

      Also, remember that the terrorists from 9/11 were lawful resident aliens. They would not be caught in the anti-terrorist net.

      Moreover, it's a fallacy to think that all terrorists are from abroad. Just remember the unsolved Anthrax cases.
    • try the wonderful country of Molvania [yahoo.com]
    • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:41PM (#8753300) Journal
      These laws aren't meant to actually "work". They are just trying to maintain the illusion of safety. The "bad guys" already know how to get around these kind of things, and each new measure will be cracked within months, if not days, of implementation. In a way, it's already working, because the Americans are swallowing it hook, line, and sinker, and they're probably going to re-elect the guy responsable for the whole thing.
      The U.S. is THE biggest arms dealer in the world. They have absolutely NO interest in resolving the Mideast thing, or any other conflict for that matter.
      The Mexican border is probably pretty tight compared to the Canadian border, but there's not too many Canadians crossing over looking for the "good life". So, it's not going to get the press coverage.
      Man, I would love to see a concerted effort by everyone to avoid doing any business with the Americans until they come down off their high horse and start treat others with some respect. Judging from the American farmer strike a long time ago, entertainment boycotts, etc., it's not bloody likely.
      • by wass (72082) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:55AM (#8753677)
        In a way, it's already working, because the Americans are swallowing it hook, line, and sinker, and they're probably going to re-elect the guy responsable for the whole thing.

        Please don't lump all Americans into one basket, I'd call that racist, but it's not an issue of race but of country.

        Remember - half of the US voters voted for Gore. Actually, more than half. Off topic - Best bumper sticker I saw after the 2000 election - "Re-elect Gore in 2004!" (And no, I didn't and won't vote for Bush).

        Anyway, seriously, we are not all the same. We're really not this brainwashed mass that you make us out to be. Yeah, Fox News totally bites and some US TV programs aim for the lowest common intellectual denominator. Yeah, there's crappy stuff about any country's culture.

        But extrapolating some things to the general populace is just as ridiculous and dangerous as claiming all Jews are cheap or all Arabs are terrorists.

    • by thogard (43403) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:53PM (#8753375) Homepage
      Your not alone with taking your money elsewhere. When they 1st started this, a friend of mine was cuaght up in the stupididty and she changed the tickets for about 20 people to go to Europe the other way.

      I was just talking to a friend about going to Orlando in June. After this nonsense, it looks like Europe is going to get the tourist money.

      Any one want to bet what happens the 1st time the US finger prints an Aussie whos on the jet fighter selection comitteee? I'm betting that will sway the decision about the Euro-fighter. The decision has already been made about buying Boeing jets by two of the local airlines and they declined.

      Tourism in the US is just starting to recover in the US (www.bea.gov) but international tourism is flat and its the 4th largest "import" of money into the US. The US Gov't is spending $50 mil [doc.gov] tring to get more tourist. Germany, Japan, UK, Canada and Mexico account for about 3/4 of all visitors in to the US. France used to be major contributor but they seem to be going elsewhere.
  • by modder (722270) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:03PM (#8753055)
    But he's not even _your_ big brother.

    Maybe they could offer the tourists a copy of the photo in a lovely decorated cardboard frame as a memento of their trip.
  • April 1? (Score:3, Funny)

    by nspitze (122888) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:05PM (#8753071) Homepage
    Is this a late submission? Great way to make enemies of allies.
  • Ex Post Facto (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erick99 (743982) * <homerun@gmail.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:06PM (#8753077)
    So after a terrorist commandeers a 747 and plows it into a high-density residential development we will be able to find a charred finger and know EXACTLY who it was that committed this horrific act.

    Okay, a silly example but how far from the truth is it? I just don't think these measures do much at all to prevent acts of terror.

    Happy Trails!

    Erick

  • This really sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rupan (723469) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:06PM (#8753078) Homepage
    As a taxpaying citizen, I am appalled by this move. It is my dollar that is paying for this system, and each day it seems more and more that I am distanced from control over how my country works. Was this how the Framers intended our country to be?

    My girlfriend is Japanese. She went back to Japan recently for her brother's wedding, and upon her return she had to go through this procedure. She has a green card. It saddens and sickens me what this country does in the name of preventing terrorism.
    • Re:This really sucks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nzkoz (139612) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:40PM (#8753290) Homepage
      A friend of mine is a US citizen. Passport etc. However he's also a NZ citizen.

      Upon arriving at LAX on his last trip, he was taken aside and asked how he became a US citizen. What right he had to be one etc. It seems I was born here you idiots isn't enough when you've been to NZ, which we all know is the hot bed of south pacific terrorism.
      • by gclef (96311) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @08:36AM (#8755098)
        Actually, as a dual-national myself (UK/US), I think I can explain some of this. The US only recognizes *some* dual nationality possibilities. Being born in the US, to NZ parents would normally require you to choose between US and NZ at age 18. Same if you were born overseas to US parents.

        The only reason I'm getting away with it is that my father is British, and my mom's American, which means I *inherit* both. But, as the post above mentioned, I only show the US passport to the US customs folks. (and vice versa for the UK/EU customs folks.) While I suspect they'd handle it fine, it's never a good idea to tax their brains.
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:06PM (#8753080) Journal
    I like the Brazilian response where they fingerprinted and photographed all visiting US citizens. The Americans apparently didn't like that...should be good all of them visitng Europe are made to do the same. Maybe it will make them feel about as welcome as us Europeans will feel in the US if they implement it. Mind you it will probably solve their security problem - by the time they have finished nobody will want to go to the US!
  • Futile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by a whoabot (706122) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:06PM (#8753084)
    You know, they do all this to supposedly prevent terrorism, yet, the US has thousands of miles of unguarded and unwatched borders. I can go to any odd border lake or river in Canada with a canoe and paddle right over with a backpack full of anthrax and no one would know. These measures are useless. If someone with half a brain wants to get in to the US and kill a lot of people, guess what? They'll do it. They don't need to take a plane there.
    • by big_groo (237634) <groovis@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:51PM (#8753361) Homepage
      I grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, ON. My buddy and I jumped in a canoe one day, and decided to paddle over to the US. (we were bored). 20 minutes later, we were being questioned by the US Coast Guard. They saw were were only kids (17) and mentioned that we shouldn't do this. They let us go, but they were checking that we weren't smuggling booze/smokes/drugs.

      The Canada/US border is vast, but people *are* watching. Chances are, it has been determined that you're harmless.

  • by pipingguy (566974) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:08PM (#8753092) Homepage
    The US State Department has expanded its anti-terrorist fingerprinting program to include visitors from close US allies such as the UK, Australia, France, Germany and Japan

    I am slighted, shocked and appalled that Canada was not included in this list.

    Goddam Americans.
  • That tears it. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:08PM (#8753093)
    I'm an Australian. I may, or may not, choose to do further overseas travel at some stage in the future. With policies like this, however, I guarantee you that the US is not on my list.

    The first question I have is: just what does the US think this will achieve? And the second question: how does it think this will achieve it?

    Is it to stop terrorists entering the country? Sorry. No such luck. If Individual A joins a terrorist group, but keeps his head low, he won't be on any of the lists. If he's careful, there'll be no way to say that he is a terrorist, even though he is. Would this system have caught the Unabomber, for example?

    Or criminals? Same story.

    All this system will do is catch those who have been stupid enough to be caught before... if that. It's a dubious step, of dubious usefulness; the potentials for abuse of this information are sufficient that I, for one, will not be visiting the US in the future (unless they drop this requirement). The UK? Maybe. Africa? Possibly. Maybe even Jamaica (via Britain, rather than the US, as I'd have to get a transit visa to go through the US...)

    I would suggest that the US can kiss a reasonable proportion of their current tourist dollars goodbye.

    • Business dollars (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bodrius (191265) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:55AM (#8753678) Homepage
      Far more important than tourist dollars are business dollars:

      Until recently the US was the undisputed center of the international economy. Recently the EU has risen as a potential threat, and in other fields so has China.

      Despite all claims of telecommunications and ecommerce, big business deals are still made in personal meetings, and have more to do with social processes than with economics.

      Given these measures, where do you think the business will go?

      If you had to choose between making a deal with someone who deals with you as an equal, or someone who treats you like a terrorist, which one would you choose?

      Many a good business proposal has gone down because of more trivial reasons: bad personal chemistry, bad food in a business dinner, personal dislike for a national stereotype, etc.

      In Latin America, for example, people have been typically happy to do business with Americans:

      The stereotype says that Americans like to do business, have money, and keep things straightforward. The US was normally seen as a nation that welcomes you and treats you like a king as long as you bring money to pay for it.

      The whole US was for most middle-class businessmen of the region like a mix of Disneyland and a Giant Shopping Mall is for a teenage girl. A business meeting in Atlanta, New York or Florida is a half-vacation.

      In short, they're happy and receptive to a pitch while the other team has 'home advantage'.

      More recently, it's easy to find people feeling personally insulted by new measures post 9/11. Now this can make them feel like criminals.

      People will start to simply refuse to go to the US, for business or pleasure: "if they want to do business, let them come here". And the stereotype will be different as well: Americans are paranoid, make things difficult, think of everyone else as criminals and terrorists.

      It wouldn't take much for a friendly European or Asian competitor to take the business. It's not like they have to dazzle them with a better offer, they just have to make them feel better about the deal.

  • by ajutla (720182) <ajutla at gmail dot com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:11PM (#8753112) Homepage
    Tourist: Ah! America! I'm here at last! This is great!

    Customs official: Ah. Welcome to the United States, terrorist--I mean, guest. Yeah. Guest.

    Tourist: Why, hello there! This is my first time visiting America, and I must say that--

    Customs official: Please be quiet. I need to take your photograph then get your fingerprints. This is essential. It is a matter of national security. You must comply or you'll be on the next plane back to whatever country you came from.

    Tourist: What? My photograph? My fingerprints? I'm not a terrorist! I'm just a tourist! I'm just here to take in the sights and see what it's like in yank-land!

    Customs official: I'm sorry, you're going to have to comply if you want entry into the United States of America. We are not going to use this information we've gathered about you for any nefarious purpose, anyway.

    Tourist: You're not? Then why are you collecting it?

    Customs official: That's classified.

    Tourist: It is? Well, classified be damned! What do you need this information for? I demand my rants! I'm not from some rogue, anti-American nation! I'll have you know I'm a French citizen!

    Customs official: ...Exactly.

    Tourist: What? You have something against France?

    Customs official: Calm down. Here. I have something for you to eat. They're freedom--I mean, French, fries. Yeah. French fries. Have one. They're really delicious.

    Tourist: Why, thank you...hm, they taste kind of...

    Customs official: Look, okay, why don't you just let me get your mugshot. I mean, photograph. Yeah. Because the word "mugshot" has negative connotations. And that's obviously not what I'm doing. I'm not doing anything negative.

    Tourist: Um, okay...

    Customs official: Nothing at all. Of the kind. This data I'm collecting probably--I mean, this data won't be used against you in any way, shape or form. It's just to protect civil liberties.

    Tourist: Okay.

    Customs official: It's for your privacy.

    Tourist: It's for my privacy? You're collecting information about me for my privacy?

    Customs official: Yes. These aren't the droids you're looking for.

    Tourist: These aren't the droids I'm looking for?

    Customs official: No, they aren't. Come here, let me take your photograph and fingerprint you, you dear Frenchman.

    Tourist: I will comply. I have no mind of my own--my own. I will--have my photograph taken.

    Customs official (thinks): The drugging worked like a charm, I'll be damned. I'm sure it'll work out perfectly next week when we put these fries into the national food supply and drug them all. Then we'll have control. Ahahahaha!
  • by Mulletproof (513805) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:13PM (#8753125) Homepage Journal
    This is a lot of sobbing over nothing. A visitor's freedoms within this country aren't being hampered. Infact, the only thing that's really happening here is keeping track of who is coming an going and comparing it to a database of known criminals. Unless you get pulled in by the police for something completely unrelated, this is never going to affect 99.5% of the people who enter the US.

    If a freakin fingerprint is all you have to worry about entering this country, you're still doing pretty damn good.
    • by terrymr (316118) <terrymrNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:22PM (#8753176)
      How is that served by fingerprinting and photographing ? The INS already has a lookout system that uses your name, date of birth passport number etc. to search the watchlists.

      The 9/11 problem was that the CIA wasn't sharing the information it had with other government agencies.
    • Um, fake passports, birthdays and names, maybe?

      Fingerprinting is an infrastructure already in place world wide throughout a number of professions, making it an easily shared medium across agencies (hello?) Plus the technology has been tweaked over the last few years to provide a high degree of success in software matching.

      I never said it was the end all be all of security, but it is another layer that will undoubtably help in the long run.
    • So you won't have a problem if they started compulsory fingerprinting all of you US citizens...just so they could improve security of course, nothing wrong with that is there? I mean it won't affect 99.5% of all of you living there.

      Afterall if a freakin fingerprint is all you have to worry about to live in your country, you're still doing pretty damn good, right?

    • by TekPolitik (147802) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:30AM (#8753801) Journal
      This is a lot of sobbing over nothing.

      Being a frog in the world's largest pot, you might not think so. But from outside your country, where we do not have a history of routine fingerprinting of people who are not even suspects in a crime, this is a major deal. If my wife wasn't American, there would be no way I would be going to the US at all now. As it is I'm not happy that she insists I accompany her on visits.

      Most people don't realise the value of privacy until they have suffered some consequence of its violation. Your time for this will come.

    • by HeghmoH (13204) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @06:39AM (#8754798) Homepage Journal
      I went to China last summer, and the worst thing they did to me was take my temperature as I left. No, it wasn't with an anal probe; they had an infrared camera pointed at the line and a computer hooked up to it that figured out everybody's body temperature so that they could keep people with SARS from leaving the country. Coming into the country was dead simple; write down where you're staying (as far as I know never verified), get your bags, leave.

      So, you have two countries; one of them does a bit of paperwork and takes your temperature with an infrared camera. The other one fingerprints you, takes a mugshot, and puts it all into a big database. Remind me, which one is the totalitarian dictatorship again?

      In all honesty, the US remains a lot more free than China, but the situation at the border sure doesn't help my perception.
  • by Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:16PM (#8753141)
    Okay, let's apply this to the current "standard method of terrorizing the United States" which is Saudi terrorists in planes, or car bombs. Everybody knew that the government would do security checks on people booking one way economy tickets with cash, and that's (duh!) why the Saudi terrorists booked return tickets, first class and paid for them with credit cards. And this is the issue with all these "we mean well but we have no idea what to do" initiatives. Everybody knew that, they knew that. And now, everybody will know about the fingerprinting, and they'll know that too. If fingerprinting was applied to the current "standard model" of terrorists flying planes, should we find a piece of a terrorist's finger, we would successfully be able to indentify said finger after he kills hundreds or thousands of people. This is the perfect technology for tracking terrorists post facto. Solves nothing, and is expensive. How does this make anyone safer? I'm not sure either. I suppose it helps secure the borders -- against those with records -- so the next terrorists will be those with no records. Problem solved (for the terrorists.) Oh yes, and it will injure the tourism industry, which previously had produced $582 billion dollars in the economy. This hurt the economy while doing nothing against terrorism. Congratulations to the administration for thinking this up.
  • by RobinH (124750) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:16PM (#8753142) Homepage
    First of all, I have no problem with any country who wants to restrict entry to their country. I have a work permit for the U.S., but if they revoked it tomorrow, I wouldn't whine. I realize that as a non-citizen, I'm not protected by that country's constitution, and I'm not counting on it.

    However, I do question the efficiency of the plan. I was fingerprinted and had my photo taken for a quickpass to get over the border called Nexus. It certainly seems like taking extra precautions against people who obey the law, cross the border lawfully every day, and pay taxes in your country is a strange focus for your limited resources.

    But then again, it seems to me that attacking a country completely unrelated to the terrorist threat is a strange way to focus your resources.

    Overall, this should be the decision of the people of the U.S.. It will certainly hassle visitors to your country, and make it seem unwelcoming even to the friendliest of tourists. It will also not stop the people determined to enter your country to harm you. However, it may make it a bit more difficult. Too bad it only takes one whacko with a suitcase nuke.

    Personally, I think a lot of this stuff since 9/11 has been a knee jerk reaction. It's understandable, but it's completely illogical, if your goal is to prevent terrorism. You can't beat terrorism. By definition, it is the tool of the people who've already been beaten. It's a force you can't fight if you want to keep your principles.

    I'm sad for you guys. Good luck though! I hope you figure yourself a way out of it.
  • One less tourist. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by marcushnk (90744) <senectus AT gmail DOT com> on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:22PM (#8753178) Journal
    I have never needed to be finger printed, and if thats the way you treat allies/friends/tourists, then you'll never see me spend my money in your country.

    Disgraceful
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:22PM (#8753181) Journal
    I imagine that, if true, this will have a significant impact on the US hosting scientific conferences. I mean, lets face it, given a choice between visiting the US and getting treated like a criminal or going somewhere else to present your results what are you going to do?
    • by Shipud (685171) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:28AM (#8753790)
      Quite true. I came to the US for two years for postdoctoral training. One of the reasons was the number of international conferences held here. Now all people talk about in my institute is moving well-established US conferences to Canada, and in some cases to Europe. Keynote speakers are reluctant to come since they do not want to spend the time and energy required to obtain a visa from a US consulate. This usually involves loss of 1-2 workdays, sitting all day in a consulate building, and being treated rudely by consular officers. If those scientists want to bring their families, they have to subject their spouses, and sometimes their children to the same ordeal. Among the younger scientific generation, many non-American students and postdcos are denied entry visas. Conferences are moved out of the US simply for failing to achive "critical mass".
  • It will (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Snaller (147050) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:25PM (#8753193) Journal
    one has to wonder if this will affect tourism to this country
  • by Slef (8700) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:43PM (#8753313)
    Not only will this affect people travelling to the US, but also people transiting through the US to go to other countries.
    I will definitely stop going to or through the US and start using a non-US airline. I think I'll write to AA to let them know. Maybe if enough people do that...
  • by weeboo0104 (644849) on Friday April 02, 2004 @11:46PM (#8753336) Journal
    ...that we will FINALLY be able to find Carmen Sandiego?
  • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:13AM (#8753481) Journal
    The really awful thing is that a major thing we used to think despicable about Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany was the identification papers and the restrictions on travel.

    With computer databases, your image and your fingerprints *are* identification papers, and now you are being forced to hand them over at checkpoints.

    Seriously, it was all very funny when we *started* to point out the amazing number of similarities between Hitler and Bush's rise. There was a terrorist act on a national monument (and even, in the 9/11 case, *attempted* on the national legislature, same as Germany) that produced national fear, whipped up by leader, used to convince legislature to pass through critical bills granting extensive police powers. Political opponents were accused of being soft on terrorism. Fear and xenophobia against religious (Islamic/Christian) and racial (Arabic/Jewish) groups was used to greatly infringe those people's rights and persecute them. A number of undesireable people, in violation of national law, were locked up in a camp to isolate them from the rest of society (Guantanamo Bay/Nazi concentration camps). Nationalistic fervor was whipped up and whipped up again to build up a popular base. Personal vendettas were made good upon with the new power (Bush-Hussein/Hitler-a number of enemies). Other countries were invaded and occupied on poor pretexts, banking on the fact that other, less powerful, countries would not be willing to organize or do more than protest (Iraq/several countries). A primary motivation for the invasion was resources (and later Nazi invasion into the USSR was significantly for oil). Business and government had close ties, and war profiteer corporations did a number of nasty things to take advantage of cronyism with major political figures (Schindler's List is a nice example). Right now the third largest employer of armed forces in Iraq (after the US and Britain)are private corporations -- big companies that are answerable only to an extremely friendly occupational government that grants Iraqis almost no rights and consists mostly of people trying to curry favor with their US occupiers to try to get a more advantageous political position in the future. Neither leader is brilliant, but both are prone to violence and grudge-holding. Both managed to seize control of the legislature at about the time they gained office. Neither has much regard for the lives of the people they have conquered -- we have been using unarmed Iraqi guards as inspectors of cars into restricted areas before US personnel come close, making human shields out of them. Neither feels that international opinion is of much import. Both quickly established powerful police organizations with far stronger powers than their predecessors, little oversight, and the ability to bypass much of the judicial system (OHS/Gestapo). Both started their invasions based on punishing the terrorists that attacked their nation, and immediately spread out once they had the power they needed. Both had rising unemployment in their countries, and a growing degree of xenophobia towards foreign laborers.

    There are some differences. Hitler respected and even idolized what Britain had done -- Bush treats Britain as a lapdog. Hitler actively physically intimidated his physical opponents -- Bush does not. Hitler invaded, occupied, and eliminated the governments of no countries within his first four years as ruler, whereas Bush invaded, occupied, and eliminated the governments of two countries within his first four years as ruler. Hitler wound up eventually killing many more people than Bush has thus far, though Bush is currently ahead for the first four years of rule. Hitler did not actively attempt to control other countries through diplomatic means -- Bush has a team that works hard to control other contries without needing to overthrow their government. Bush has computers and telecommunication monitoring systems, but Hitler did not.

    Screw Goodwin's Law. The man didn't write it in 2004.

    I'll leave
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @02:23AM (#8754039)
      I mean other than Mexico or Canada (who wer are on special terms with). It has ALWAYS been "Your identification papers, please". You MUST have a passport and not having one will cause you real trouble. They demand you give it to them, fill out a form declaring the reason and length of your visit, as well as what you are bringing. You must then obtain their official permission (usually in the form of a stamp) to be there.

      The document they require is nothing simple either. It's an official federal proof of identity. Getting it requires proving citizenship and identity. It's actually much harder in many countries. I'm a US/Canada dual citizen. My US passport was easy, just prove I'm my parent's kid that was that. My Canadian one is a bitch. They need lots more ID (copy of my driver license and US passport, and my physical citizen ID card), a sworn statement testifying to my identity by a notary public (or doctor, lawyer, etc) who has known me for a few years, etc.

      Know what? They STILL want me to go through all the shit when I go to the US or Canada from the other. I can get away with less than a passport since I'm a citizen and the countries are on good terms, but it's more difficult. To any other country, forget it. It's a passport or nothing.

      ID checks at the border are nothing new, and have needed official ID for a LOOOONG time.
    • by Animats (122034) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @03:26AM (#8754278) Homepage
      Bush has computers and telecommunication monitoring systems, but Hitler did not.

      Joseph Goebbels, the Third Reich's equivalent to Karl Rove, was a pioneer of the "wired office". He used radio, phone, and teletype links extensively. German had a very good switched teletype network in that period, and the Reich used it to control much of the country from Berlin, rather than delegate to local authorities.

    • by HeghmoH (13204) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @06:33AM (#8754782) Homepage Journal
      Right now the third largest employer of armed forces in Iraq (after the US and Britain)are private corporations

      I saw this statement in a news story the other day and it still strikes me as highly bizarre. What else would be number 3? The US and Britain are the only countries with any significant troop presence. You have to have a number 3 somewhere, were you expecting it to be "Iraqi gun nuts"?
  • by dogfart (601976) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:14AM (#8753488) Homepage Journal
    Maybe the whole point of this is to reduce contact between US and non-US citizens. Maybe too much interaction between the US and the rest of the word is thought to be threatening. We have already [sfgate.com] managed to stifle international cultural programs. Non-US journalists have been detained and deported [mattwelch.com] fo failing to obtain a special little-known journalist visa (which by the way can take weeks to get, preventing foreign journalists from covering breaking US news).

    If you think I'm being paranoid, consider that the 20th century's worst dictator's unleashed their fury against "cosmopolitan" elements in their societies. Both Stalin and Hitler considered "foreign" elements a threat to their rule and crushed them without mercy. Part of keeping your own population docile in ensuring they never have the opportunity to see how citizens of other countries live.

  • by John Jorsett (171560) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @12:40AM (#8753601)
    ... a lot of the people complaining are coming from societies that are just as intrusive if not more so. The UK, for example, is rapidly covering itself in surveillance and traffic cameras, and refusing to divulge an encryption key when demanded by the authorities is a jailable offense.
  • As a canadian... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abysmilliard (557352) <grayeNO@SPAMlivejournal.com> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @01:53AM (#8753883) Homepage Journal
    I grew up less than 15 minutes from the US border. My family kept a mailbox in Northport, Wa., where my grandmother was born and raised. She later moved to Canada to marry my grandfather. My family has many friends in the United States of America, and I have relatives down there to this day. I spent nearly every summer of my childhood near Kettle Falls, swimming on the shores of the Columbia river, flying kites and catching june bugs. From the mountains near my hometown [rossland.com], you can see the United States. It's absolutely no different from the landscape in Canadian. All you can see to distinguish the two nations -- if you're lucky -- is a cutline less than twenty feet across. When we used to go across the border, my father was waved through. The border guards knew him well. As I got older, that slowly changed. Border checks took longer, the guards were more insistent on searching him, and even though they all expressed regret, asking how we kids were, much of the time they still spent time checking him out. The last time I went to the US, I spent an hour at the border while the car I was driving in was searched top to bottom. The border guards were rude, humorless and in-your-face. Canada is still exempt from this change in the laws, and I love the USA. But I can honestly say that if the laws ever change to require that kind of invasive documentation with respect to Canadians, I will never go back to the USA again. Watching the US over the last four years has been very much like watching a family member go crazy. I sincerely hope things change, soon, because I would really like to take the kids I will someday have swimming in the river down there, and show them what awesome neighbours we were lucky enough to have. Right now, I think it's even money that that will happen.
  • by gidds (56397) <slashdot AT gidds DOT me DOT uk> on Saturday April 03, 2004 @04:40AM (#8754470) Homepage
    Problem: the rest of the world doesn't like us very much.

    Solution: insult them and tell them they're all effectively criminals. Then they'll like us more!

    Do you ever get the feeling that someone important just doesn't Get It?

  • by NewtonsLaw (409638) on Saturday April 03, 2004 @05:46AM (#8754640)
    I've travelled internationally quite a bit in the past few years and although I've yet to find a country with "pleasant" border control, the USA counts as the worst first-impression I've ever experienced.

    You're warned that getting the slightest thing wrong on your declaration card will see you thrown into jail and the staff appear to have manners and an abrasive attitude that are certainly the worse than Australia, New Zealand, Singapore or the UK.

    You can't help but get the overwhelming impression that, as a tourist, you're not so much welcomed as tollerated as a temporary visitor to the USA.

    With all the new measures in place, and the presumption of guilt that accompanies them, I certainly wouldn't put the USA very high on my list of places to visit again.

    Once you're through the airport it's a nice place and the people I met there were great -- but that border-control is a *real* turn-off.

    Besides which, what's with LAX? I've never had to queue on the sidewalk to get to the check-in counter before -- it's crazy!

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