pragueBlog

2004-01-04  

The American way of welcoming:
"Czechs have traditionally welcomed with bread and salt. In recent times Americans have been welcomed here with excellent beer. And in two days the US begins welcoming visitors with a thumb scanner."

The Daily Czech's Petr Bokuvka slamming the US over the new fingerprinting rules. You can understand the indignation. Long interviews, onerous application procedures, exhorbitant fees etc. are hard enough to endure if you just want to go on a wee holiday to America. But fingerprinting is associated with criminality in most people's minds. Not something to look forward to. The reassurances from immigration bigwigs that America welcomes people from all over the whole world are empty and sound silly. Nobody believes that.

But will scanning a few million thumbs do any good? Petr doesn't like it partly because it doesn't catch terrorists already living in the states and waiting for orders in the future. Nor does it do anything to prevent an American terrorist from flying to Europe and carrying out an attack here.

They're good points, but not necessarily directly relevant. The September 11 hijackers hadn't been in the states all that long. Thumbprints might have helped trace one or a few of them.

On the other hand, the FBI had special agents writing memos and jumping up and down screaming about a possible attack before 911 and did nada. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for that. Closing ranks is more important to them than national security, at least in this case. Having a lot of information about people travelling to and from the US is inevitable and desirable if you use the information well. Scanning a bazillion thumbs won't help you if then just go and sit on yours.

Steve | 16:48 |
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