Thursday, June 02, 2005

U.S. may ask for Canadian domestic passenger lists

It is already mandatory that any plane flying in or out of the United States provide authorities with a passenger manifest. Now the U.S. is considering expanding the program to include planes that fly through U.S. airspace.

Right now, any person considered a security risk by the U.S. is pulled from the plane, something that David Dewitt of the Centre for International and Security Studies calls "quite understandable."

But the new American proposal attempts to go one step further by demanding that any flight passing through U.S. airspace, even if it doesn't land, must first submit its passengers' names, citizenship, birthdays, and possibly their addresses and credit card details.

Since many east-west flights in Canada briefly enter U.S. airspace, under the plan, Canadian airlines would have to provide details on their domestic passengers.

It's a move seen by critics as a loss of sovereignty. But international law allows it.

The proposal could lead to longer delays at airports as the lists must be compiled prior to takeoff.

While the rule is only a proposal, it has already been put into practice. Last month, a KLM flight bound for Mexico was turned back before it reached U.S. airspace, even though it had no plans to land in the United States. The decision was made because two passengers were on the U.S. secret no-fly list.

"One has to ask the question: where will this stop and what will be the next demand? I think Canada should take a stand on this and say 'No, we're not prepared to do this sort of venture at this point,'" said aviation strategist Barry Prentice.

Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan, who is also the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, says she'll discuss the issue with top American officials.

Related: Sen. Kennedy Flagged by No-Fly List
"Someone of Senator Kennedy's stature can simply call a friend to have his name removed but a regular American citizen does not have that ability. He had to call three times himself."

"If his name got on the list in error, is that happening to other citizens and are they experiencing such difficulty in resolving the problem?"

Related: US anti-war activists hit by secret airport ban
Related: Are You On Uncle Sam's No Fly List?

So why would two women in their 50's, U.S. citizens, San Francisco homeowners and long-time peace activists with no criminal records be on a federal watch list with suspected terrorists?

Food for thought! - jasonF


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