The US Secretary of Homeland Security has a list of demands for countries around the world, and unless those demands are met he’s going to impose an electronics ban on their flights to the U.S. — even though many of his demands have nothing whatsoever to do with an imminent threat of passengers hiding explosives in their iPads.
- 70 countries are being considered for an expanded electronics ban
- They can avoid being put on the list if they comply with Secretary Kelly’s demands
- Deputy Secretary Elaine Duke was sent to Malta to brief European countries on the commitments they would need to make
There’s a list of “seven, eight, nine, 10 things” that will have to be agreed to in exchange for continued access to U.S. markets without the crippling effect of an electronics ban.
- More information sharing with the US government about passengers — apparently beyond even current full details included in reservations, including passport information.
- “enhanced testing” (screening) efforts
- new efforts “to combat the insider threat from employees, like those who handle the baggage.”
- While the claim has been that the threat was immediate and real, and so swift action necessary, the US is demanding things that have nothing to do with combating threats (electronic or otherwise) today.
Indeed, some of the items on the list are “moderately long, some of them are long-term,” things that must be done off into the future — a promise to buy new technology that doesn’t even exist yet.
Secretary Kelly says that the 10 airports that are part of the original electronics ban could have their ban lifted if their countries comply. Of course the logic of that ban was nonsense, since
- Abu Dhabi’s US preclearance facility meets US security standards and involves direct oversight by US personnel
- Emirates flights from Dubai could fly to the US without a ban by stopping in Athens and Milan
- Determined terrorists could depart Dubai and connect in Baku, Azerbaijan and on to New York with their electronics
- Lagos, Nigeria wasn’t included in the ban, nor myriad cities in China with direct U.S. service
- Canada, Australia, and most of Europe did not adopt their own ban despite information-sharing and even cajoling by the U.S. The U.K. adopted a far more limited ban.
Terrorists Can Circumvent the Laptop Ban by Flying Dubai – Baku – New York JFK instead of Emirates Non-stop, copyright: nordroden / 123RF Stock Photo
The idea that Abu Dhabi’s security places it on the list when US officials monitor audio and video inside the preclearance lounge is absurd. The notion that the ban is justified by an imminent threat, yet countries are being threatened with the ban unless they make promises to buy theoretical technology in the future, is even more surreal.
It puts the lie to the claim that officials are pursuing policies directly tied to real and immediate concerns rather than leveraging the harm that would be done to others’ economies (without regard for the harm that would be done to the US) to advance their own agenda — and without regard for the very danger the ban puts on aircraft as demonstrated by the recent JetBlue flight where electronics caught fire.
Airline executives are afraid to speak out but they really need to. At the same time the status quo actually benefits the largest US airlines at the expense of passengers.
(HT: JT Genter)