Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 06, 2005

Do Emperors Need Passports?

U.S. Will Tighten Passport Rules writes The Washington Post. Passport rules for United States citizens are meant, not just for foreigners. In future, when traveling to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, U.S. citizens will only be allow a return to the States, when they have a valid passport. A driver license will no longer be sufficient.

Other parts of the world are opening their borders and make it easier to travel. In Europe the Schengen agreement allows the people to travel between fifteen countries, and more in future, without any border controls or passports.

This type of Homeland Security makes me wonder what the administration really anticipates to be a security risk.

In fact I think the singularity of 9/11 is not the reason for this, it is rather the excuse.  It is another step in a new isolationist wave in the U.S. that will develop far further than we now imagine. The real reason behind this is the fear and uncertainty of a falling empire. Emperors do not need passports.

Posted by b on April 6, 2005 at 13:01 UTC | Permalink


something not mentioned in b's link

Because border communities will potentially be the most affected by the changes, the new law specifically states that the concerns of those communities will be considered. With this in mind, the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are issuing an advance notice of proposed rule-making in the U.S. Federal Register. The notice will provide vital information about the plan and request the public's comment on the new rules.

The Federal Register is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules and notices of U.S. federal agencies and organizations.

The State Department's Maura Harty said the advanced notice of proposed rule-making "will allow these affected publics to voice concern and provide ideas for alternate documents acceptable under the law."

Harty said the "overarching need is to implement this legal requirement in a way that strengthens security while facilitating the movement of persons and goods."

The U.S. government expects to issue a more formal rule about the new travel requirements in the Federal Register later in 2005, following review of the public's comments regarding the first phase of the plan. -- A.M. Costa Rica, Wed April 6.

here's the federal register portal, though i can't immed locate any such info.

Posted by: | Apr 6 2005 14:43 utc | 1

I think it was Fran that posted an article about the new requirements and deadline for citizens of Visa Waiver Countries (EU, etc.): from 26 Oct. 2005 it will be necessary to have a chip with biometrics in one’s passport to enter the US.

Precisely which biometrics (picture, fingerprints, iris, dna, what?) I could not find out after 10 mins on the State Dept. website - all these US Gvmt. sites have become very vague, full of soft information, goopy useless advice, hubristic self-presentation, splendidly presented in inpenetrable sentences.. They used to be crisp, clear, with just the right organisation of information, smart language, ‘best graphics’. They were models others copied. The US used to be the world leader in information presentation. Their army manuals will remain legendary. They invented the modern text-book, and the best text books in the world are American. I have a biology text book published 1962 somewhere - a marvel. Others, older, too.

Authoritarian, money-grubbing Gvmts. often create a sprawling bureaucracy, a multiplication of petty laws, procedures, directives, etc., thereby completely anulling fundamental texts. The US now produces new legislation that is laid out in .. 500 pages, which no one can read, which no-one does read. Bremer used to write one law one day, another contradictory one the next, on table napkins. (Say). Signed, stamped, done!

The result is that the citizen is lost in a maze of contradictions, at the mercy of the nasty officials, obliged to spend money on lawyers (if possible), always uncertain, afraid, intimidated, forced to bow to arbitrariness, blocked; or they must use bribes, become corrupt.

So Visa-Waiver people will soon have to have a Visa to enter the US. Last time we had this here in CH (when the requirement was a machine-readable passport - your prints and picture were taken at entry-) the waiting time for your first appointment at the Embassy was 3 to 4 months, with no guarantee of obtaining the visa. The thing that put people off the most is that when you called the Embassy to request information about procedure they switched you to a call center that charged the highest rate (used only by phone-sex sellers) and kept you on the line a long time; nobody dared hang up, people continued to answer questions politely. Bills easily stretched to 100 CHF. After the calls, the regular cost of a visa is about 200 dollars, but it can be 700 dollars in some cases.

What is less known is that an ‘expedited’ visa program exists, for businesses. It costs minimum 1,000 dollars a head and promises a decision in 2-3 weeks. It is used by all US Corps. who prefer to pay, say 30,000 dollars to get 20 people from Holland to the US, fast. Nowhere is it officially mentioned on US sites and I could not find a good link.

Some info...:>Link

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 6 2005 18:14 utc | 2

The US is entangled in its contradictions. It must:

a) Close itself off from opinions coming from the outside, and prevent clear-eyed foreign scrutiny and reports. Remember how hard it was to go to the USSR? How you were followed about by an Intourist (“translator”) agent, and all your stops were logged, your meetings noted? How people were afraid to speak freely to you? Well I never went, but all this has been reported on endlessly.

b) Keep the borders open for illegal immigrants, necessary to the economy.

c) Allow tourists and students to enter and spend. The Education lobby but more importantly the Hotel and Tourist Lobby (including airlines, Disney, etc.) are suffering and agitating.

d) Most vital, allow US corporations to move their people freely around the world.

e) Maintain the myth of the necessity of Homeland Security, which has become a big business for partners, friends, legitimised Gvmt. spending.

f) Continue to boost internal controls, create new ones, with whatever rationalisations are available. (Terrorism, 9/11, etc.) with a view to quashing dissent, controlling agitators, setting up arbitrary search, arrest, detention, conviction, imprisonment, torture and seizure of assets.

Combining all that is a new venture, uncharted territory for now. The problem is the usual one. Ordinary people represent an asset --diligent workers, servants of the State, slave labor, tourists with big pockets, engineer with new ideas - the minions who make the machine run and enrich the elite. But they are pesky and dangerous as well, difficult to sheperd and control.

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 6 2005 18:22 utc | 3


i am persona non grata in the u. s. so i'll not have to worry about getting in or panicking because i can't get out

america, australia britain & others making their countries into fortresses says more about them than the people it excludes or forbids, as is my case

they will only be happy when they become disneyland gated communities - maintaing their madness for milleniums

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Apr 6 2005 22:15 utc | 4

If they state they'll start requiring exit visas to allow Americans to leave, anyone who can leave should at that point, unless you're a white fundmentalist "christian" who thinks Old Testament law should replace the Constitution.

as it is now, yes, we're going into scary places, as far as invasions of privacy go.

And, technologically, I would assume variations on robocop will be the next step for soldiers so that they can be recycled in the field after losing limbs.

I'm not a luddite. Any technology that exists, just like anything else, can be used for good or bad. when a power-elite guides that technology, it seems they will always tend to use it in negative ways.

Posted by: fauxreal | Apr 6 2005 23:03 utc | 5

Any technology that exists, just like anything else, can be used for good or bad.

In general, sure. But then again guns are optimized to shoot with, and shovels to dig with. So when research is made on what looks like guns it will be easier to use that knowledge to kill people faster then to dig faster.

Posted by: A swedish kind of death | Apr 7 2005 0:47 utc | 6

The very bad thing about all this discussion is that none of us knows; the rationale for these executive rule changes is a secret. So you speculate, hoping for the best and fearing the worst.

As for the passport thing, it is probably IMO a preliminary move to test a plan, or get the populace accustomed to this much suppression, and the followup will be to try and lock the borders both in and out. "When and if necessary" so to me that means it is in the plan. Necessity will arise as soon as the people begin to understand that they no longer have power, or independence or freedom as the myth has been for so long,

Weirdest of all is that most of us just go along and believe the nightly news.

Posted by: rapt | Apr 7 2005 1:32 utc | 7

It used to be a rule that rich ‘democracies’ prevented people from entering, and ‘dictatorships’ prevented them from leaving.

The US is doing both at the interest of “control” which is driven by various lobbies, the market.

Academia (losing big time), Big Corps and Small Biz, households, all need flex, no controls, fast track visas, which exist (new programs everyday).

Homeland Security, medium tech (biometrics, radars, tasers, computer systems, etc.; Gvmt employees, police, security, the bureaucracy, computer registers runners, and minions of the Gvmt generally, etc.), not to mention voters, clamor for ‘tighter controls and the war against terrorism.’

The bread is buttered on one side or the other.

All these people have an edge and compete successfully against prison labor, which is not physically mobile.

The US lets expats go but taxes them. And often refuses US citizens’ return to the US -- if you aren’t paid up in full the only thing to do is to acquire another nationality and enter as a tourist.

So the rules are just made up on the spot, then bent, changed, it is all arbirtary, there is no consistent policy, it is just who has the cooler presentation, the stronger clout, the more powerful friends, the bigger backing, the better argument, in terms of incoming dollars, or freedom and democracy.

The general aim of control of the internal populace (e.g no-fly rules) is, however, perfectly evident.

Posted by: Blackie | Apr 9 2005 19:51 utc | 8

We are postponing to finally visiting USA for quite a few years now and my daughter is traveling to Europe soon and original plan was to go via USA and spend few weeks there. But we decided "no thank you"...especially after hearing how Americans "welcomed" few friends. And after reading one good piece here I think by Debs and brother in law traveling from NZ via USA to Europe...

Posted by: vbo | Feb 1 2007 12:53 utc | 9

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