Washington wants race-based visa restrictions

The US is pushing for a new visa system for visitors from the United Kingdom that that allows for special screening of Britons of Pakistani background.

U.S. Seeks Closing of Visa Loophole for Britons – New York Times

American officials, citing the number of terror plots in Britain involving Britons with ties to Pakistan, expressed concern over the visa loophole. In recent months, the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, has opened talks with the government here on how to curb the access of British citizens of Pakistani origin to the United States.

Note how the Times is subliminally whitewashing this policy with its
euphemistic caption. People having legal rights regardless of their ethnic background isn’t a “loophole”. It’s simply equality under the
law.

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  • Abu Sinan

    That wouldnt have helped with Richard Reid.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    True.

  • http://www.snappingturtle.net/jmc/tmblog/ TMLutas

    My understanding from other sources less hostile to the Bush administration than the NY Times is that the UK government has a list of individuals that they are keeping under surveillance in the UK because they worry about their links to nefarious pakistani persons/factions and that they are not sharing when a member of that particular list is about to take a trip to the US with US intelligence.
    This could be out of fear that we would not allow them entry, tipping the suspects off that they are being watched. While the US has intelligence sharing agreements with lots of countries and probably has the most comprehensive sharing agreement with the UK, no country shares everything. The NY Times does not seem to be drawing that distinction correctly, whether by accident or on purpose.
    From a US perspective, it would be rather risky for the career of any intelligence professional to let a person suspected of terrorist ties in the UK to come into the US so the UK fear of having their surveillance blown by the US is pretty legitimate.
    And no, I don’t think that this would have caught Richard Reid either. No one program or measure will work against everyone which is why good counter-terrorism always uses a layered approach.
    Were this to be a pure racist approach, I would be against it and would expect and applaud the several scalps that would probably be taken in the backlash. Profiling has its place in the counter-terrorism arsenal (as El Al has demonstrated over the years) but such a crude screen as just race is not helpful. Then again, does anybody really believe that we should be screening 98 year old norwegian grannies as often as we screen 23 year old syrian men? That’s the current policy.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Thanks for chiming in, TM.
    If that is indeed the case, I question the efficacy of this solution. I also find it hard to believe that the UK–whose cooperation with the US is legendarily close–would be *systematically* holding out on reliable information of this nature. Far more likely that this is the latest bogus pretext being used by an administration wtih a well established indifference to due process and checks & balances, I think.
    Speaking more generally, I don’t accept the ethics, constituionality or overall wisdom of establishing separate legal regimes for people based on anything other than their individual records. At least not in peacetime (and, no, I do not believe we’re at war, despite all the GWOT propaganda–my guess is that more Americans die each year from slipping in the shower than from terrorism; as John Mueller pointed out, the risk of being killed by terrorism for the average human being is roughly the same as being killed by a meteor).
    > Then again, does anybody really believe that we should be screening 98 year old norwegian grannies as often as we screen 23 year old syrian men? <
    It's entirely natural that suspects be treated *by intelligence* differently (i.e., monitored to varying degrees) based on background, but I see nothing to justify making people's legal or economic rights in any way contingent on their ethnic background.
    If those Syrians have done nothing to warrant special measures, they should have the same standing in public life as those grannies from Bergen.
    We're all better off that way in the long run, I think.


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