Washington, D.C. - The United States and European Union countries have agreed to expanded security and data sharing on passengers on US-bound flights. US airlines have already supplied the US government with the names, birth dates, credit card information, home addresses, phones, e-mail, flight and hotel itineraries of passengers on US domestic flights. Even requests for bed size and smoking preference is available for data-mining. But, now, much more information will be gathered on US citizens who travel to Europe.
If the information exists in the airlines' data system, under the new agreement, both US and European airlines will also supply racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership status, health information, information about traveling partners, and sexual orientation.
Under this agreement Washington will retain this data and while Washington would supposedly use this data only under circumstances "where the life of a data subject or of others could be imperiled or seriously impaired" the immediate question that arises is: how would the airlines even get this information in the first place?
Will you now go to the airport in London for a return flight and in addition to being asked if your baggage has been in your control the entire time, will you also be asked "Catherine Zeta-Jones, or Tom Jones? Halle Berry, or Chuck Berry? Lindsay Lohan, or Liberace? Marge, or Homer?" Will this give fresh meaning to the question, "Do you have anything to declare?"
Will Paris airport security agents hold earnest conversations with you about Rousseau? Will we be forced to state a choice between Kant and Schopenhauer?
How about health information? What shall we answer to "Hello, how are you?" Is the simple, "Fine, thanks" sufficient? Do pre-existing conditions, such as sore feet, tiredness and a headache from waiting in line while other people are asked their feelings about Socrates count? Would having had surgery make you more or less likely to destroy America? Who is more dangerous: the person who had gallstones, or the person who had kidney stones? That's a toughie. How about colon polyps, like Bush
, or a pacemaker, like Cheney
There will be those who will make the argument that someone with a history of serious mental illness poses a greater risk than someone without. This sounds reasonable until you realize that both Bush and Cheney claim they are in perfect mental heath, which leads to the further realization that the people with the worst mental illnesses deny they have any problem and avoid seeking treatment. Someone who is aware he has a problem is also aware that the medical condition needs to be handled. If the airlines or the airport security agents are looking at the names of medications, only those travelers with a history of mental illness who are in-control and aware will be listed in the database. The truly delusional and truly deranged will not be noted.
What's the "right answer" to a question about religious beliefs? Would you rather fly home with an American Muslim, or would you rather fly home with an American Evangelical Christian? Who is praying harder for Armageddon
Trade union membership is surely a gold-mine of information in the fight against terrorists. The UAW? Hmm.......anyone who knows how to install windshield wipers.....
Racial background is an excellent way to predict terrorist tendencies. Condi Rice
, Colin Powell
and Clarence Thomas
are good examples that people of color vote conservative, so it must be whites and Asians who we have to watch out for.
And, of course, political opinions are always an indicator of violence. People who believe in the law, who believe in checks and balances, who feel that invading other countries without provocation is morally troubling, who feel that abandoning New Orleans is morally reprehensible, who feel that everyone has a right to worship, or not, as he or she pleases, who don't see the phrase "unitary executive" anywhere in the Constitution, who believe that government should be of the people, by the people and for the people, well, those people have subversive ideas and you just never know when one of them, sitting back there in economy with his knees up his nose, might suddenly have a "hate our freedoms" moment.
The American government
, with the assistance of European governments and businesses, will now be maintaining a database on all air travelers, including American citizens who are completely innocent of any plans, or even thoughts, regarding violence. The government will add to that database every time an American buys a ticket to get on a plane in Europe to return home. The database will be stored for a minimum of 15 years, assuming the deadline isn't extended.
Fly the friendly skies.Written for Assimilated Press by roving reporter pinko