Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Push Back From A Different Source

The current regime's demand for personal data involves not only US citizens, but also Europeans who wish to travel to the US on business or pleasure. Some Europeans have decided that is ludicrous, and the EU's highest court agrees. From the NY Times:

The European Union's highest court ruled Tuesday that the Union had overstepped its authority by agreeing to give the United States personal details about airline passengers on flights to America in an effort to fight terrorism.

The decision will force the two sides to renegotiate the deal at a time of heightened concerns about possible infringements of civil liberties by the Bush administration in its campaign against terrorism, and the extent to which European governments have cooperated.

...the European Parliament challenged the agreement in court on two points: The parliament was not consulted when the accord was reached, under intense pressure from the Bush administration, and it objected to the extent of personal data to be turned over — including names, addresses, phone numbers, itineraries and payment information, including credit card numbers.
[Emphasis added]

Watch Lists, as burdensome as they are, have been justified by the US regime on the basis of information that certain names are used by certain individuals under surveillance by intelligence agencies. On the other hand, the wholesale gathering of information on all Europeans flying to the US, including the credit card number used for payment to airlines for tickets, smacks of the broad governmental spying on Americans via the NSA tapping of citizens' phone calls and the turn-over of call-lists by the phone companies. In both cases, the US has offered no indication that such intrusions into the privacy of individuals have accomplished anything beyond the gathering of the information itself. In other words, there has been no justification, at least any that hasn't been conveniently classified by the Emperor.

Just as worrisome as the gathering of the information is the fact that the government doesn't exactly have a pristine history of protecting the information once it is gathered, as the recent news about the loss of millions of veteran's records attests. The Europeans have every right to be worried and are fully justified in pushing back against the program.

Apparently the Europeans aren't as 'terra-fied' as we in the US are.


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