This is in part inspired by recent news about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the mess the EU is in to get everything in place for bio-metric passports.
As you might know, citizens of 27 countries are exempt from having to use a visa to enter the US, for up to 90 days, be it business or vacation. I did a thread almost a year ago about the stupidity of this, since students have to have a visa, implying that a student from a “safe” country is more likely to be a terrorist than an average Joe (which the hamsters have eaten). Of course, were I a terrorist, I’d go as a tourist, no questions asked, and skip that whole student thing. I’m not. But in my small town of about 260k people, some 50-60k are Muslims. There are a lot of them in Europe, citizens and with EU passports.
So now, they had to push back the date for the bio-metric passports. It seems the EU can’t get the whole thing turned around fast enough and with 14 (of 25) countries part of the VWP, it’s quite a lot to coordinate. About 13 million visitors enter the US every year from VWP countries, and I imagine that if it’s a case of security vs. dollars earned from business and tourism, money talks.
Then again, one wonders about the success of it all. In a press release dated April 2, the State Department sums up the first three months of the year:
Not something to be sneered at, but not exactly big fish either.
My own thoughts about it is that it’s totally unnecessary. Some bad guy out to do harm can slip in quite easily. We can’t discuss the mechanics of illegal actions here, but I can come up with four or five ways which would require little effort. All this is going to do is end up costing us tax money, both in the US fir its citizens, and in the countries under the WVP. Mostly in the US. And mostly to give a perception of added security. Perception, not really actual security. It’s political grandstanding, where law enforcements agencies (DHS) and talking heads can give out sound bites which make it seem like they’re in control and taking action.
So what will Kerry do if elected? I’ve been to his homepage and found a lot of vague stuff and buzzwords, but nothing really substantial. This is to be expected. I think it would be political suicide to promise to abandon DHS, should he win. GWB has laid down the rules during three years since 9/11 and there are a lot of new buzzwords (WMD, DHS) which can’t be avoided. As a military man, Kerry must seem to be a tough Democrat, inspiring voters to think that with him in the oval office, it won’t be wishy-washy. He must be a hawk when it comes to terrorists/security/Iraq, at least as viewed from a liberal standpoint. If not, he’s gonna lose the election.
From the perspective of a foreigner and half-way frequent visitor to the US, I’ve been hoping that with Kerry as president, things will go back to what it was before November 2000, but of course it won’t. So my question is mostly to the Democrats:
How much must Kerry undo for you not to be disappointed in him? Not only in foreign relations of all sorts, but domestically as well.
And a serious question for the GOPers: How much can Kerry get away with before you start screaming treason?
Link to US State Dept. about WVP