Sep 03 2010

Napolitano outlines US travel control agenda for ICAO

In a speech to the Air Line Pilots Association earlier this week, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano made explicit the US government’s intentions to, as we have repeatedly predicted, use the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as its primary international policy-laundering forum to bypass and override national laws restricting surveillance and control of travel.

ICAO isn’t mentioned in the DHS press release, and the DHS doesn’t seem to have posted the full text of Napolitano’s speech.  But according to reports in Homeland Security Today and elsewhere:

Napolitano will seek a formal resolution from the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Sept. 28-Oct. 8 in Montreal, Canada, to build upon five regional security declarations obtained by the United States….

Each of the five meetings resulted in a security declaration focusing on vulnerabilities in the international aviation system in four key areas: developing and deploying new security technology, strengthening aviation security measures and standards, enhancing information collection and sharing, and coordinating international technical assistance

ICAO assisted in coordinating the five agreements, which Napolitano hopes to use as a springboard to obtain a declaration covering the international organizations 190 member states in the fall.

“Enhancing information collection and sharing” is of course a euphemism for mandatory airline and national government participation in the compilation of lifetime logs of individuals’ movements, while “developing and deploying new security technology” refers mainly, as of now, to mandatory use on airline passengers of virtual strip-search machines.

With Members of the European Parliament asking new questions about DHS demands for European collaboration in US travel surveillance and control schemes,  DHS and the US government are turning increasingly to ICAO as a less transparent, less publicly accountable “plan B” for internationalization of its travel regime.

It’s unclear whether the resolutions to be proposed for adoption by ICAO at its upcoming general assembly will constitute ICAO “security standards”, or will merely be a step toward their adoption through he slow but inexorable multi-year ICAO decision-making process.  But the goal of the US government is clear: Whatever surveillnace and control measures can be incorporated into ICAO security standards can be backported into national and international laws through innocuous-seeming statutory and treaty mandates for compliance with ICAO security standards, and imposed on recalcitrant countries through denial of landing rights oin the US to flights from countries or on airlines that don’t comply with such surveillance and control standards.

Sep 03 2010

From our mailbag

Thank You, and good luck!

I have come across information on your suit against the US Gov’t and DHS, and the fantastic summary you did. I just felt I should thank You for your effort and bravery.

I just wanted to let You know there are people and organisations all over the world (Poland here, by the way) that see the diffusion of privacy and personal rights and freedoms in America as a very dangerous precedent that might “inspire” other countries (and indeed, often it already does) to follow suit (pun not intended).

I come from a nation that had to fight for independence and freedom many times throughout its history. For 21 years we are finally Free – after almost 200 years of enslavement. I have the distinct privilege to not remember the Polish People’s Republic and the times long gone by (I’m 25), but we all here either remember, or simply know (from history lessons, from relatives, from literature) what Orwellian surveillance was like. We all remember or know about the atmosphere, the Kafka-esque processes of law, the fright… And we remember or know what sacrifices had to be made to be finally Free.

Maybe that’s why ideas like secret lists, internet filtering and similar ideas meet with a decisive public resistance. For now. But if the USA, the country people 15-20 years older than me saw as a symbol of freedom and one of the only allies we had against the USSR, slides down this slippery slope any more, resistance can only become harder.

The more can we admire what You are doing.

Hence, for Your sake, and for the sake of all the people that watch and see what’s going on, I wish you strength and good luck in your fight. In times like these there’s always the need for a single fighter to fight for the principles.

It was like that in the fifties in USA with the McCarthy-ism at its height, when Ed Murrow took a stand.

It was like this in the Big Tobacco suits in early nineties when Brown & Williamson almost destroyed Jeff Wigand’s life when he took a stand.

I’ll be watching, and with me two Polish NGOs.I’ll be watching, and with me two Polish NGOs.

Best regards,

Michal “rysiek” Wozniak