Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, I attended a conference in Bozeman, Mont. Bozeman is a delightful place in the southeast corner of the state. It's home to a university and close to Yellowstone National Park. In late summer (when I went) it's a magical area of the country. But it is also (forgive me for saying so) pretty much in the middle of nowhere. Flights go from Bozeman to Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Denver—maybe a few other places as well, but you get the idea. The jets that fly there are generally smaller, and they don't go too far away.
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My friend and Heritage colleague, David Inserra, has just released a paper entitled "Considering the Laptop Ban: Risks, Costs, Benefits, and Alternatives." For anyone interested in the issue, it is worth a read. Here is the abstract:
Good news. Politico is reporting the breaking news that there will NOT be a ban on laptops on US-EU flights:
The U.S. today opted not to introduce a ban on bringing laptops into the cabins of flights to the U.S. from Europe, sources told POLITICO.
“No ban,” a Commission official said. “Both sides have agreed to intensify technical talks and try to find a common solution.”
Kudos to DHS for reaching the right decision.
Meanwhile, in other news, the Department of Homeland Security is expected to announce tomorrow that it will ban all laptops and other large devices (like tablets) from being held in the cabin on flights originating in Europe.
This summer has been dominated by headlines about long lines at Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints at the nation’s airports. Surely, countless meetings are currently being held at DHS and TSA aimed at ensuring no one else spends a night on a cot in O’Hare Airport. But overlooked in the scrutiny is the ways in which the issue brings to light an important security development of last 5 years. Security and the facilitation of travelers are no longer at odds.
For more than a decade the US and the European Union have been arguing about a Passanger Name Record system. PNR is the data and information collected by airlines when they sell you a ticket. It includes, naturally enough, your name, and your flight information. For international flights it, of course, includes your passport information.
In our new book, Whistleblowers, Leaks and the Media, my co-editors and I talk at some length about what we characterize as the "fundamental tension" that lies at the heart of news reporting today involving national security matters. The tension -- between transparency and secrecy -- is fundamental for two distinct reasons: First, because at bottom it involves two exceedingly important values -- government efficacy in protecting the body politic and citizen control of government as
That question has taken on new significance after the Paris terrorist attacks, which have stoked fears that militants in Europe might exploit the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)—under which citizens of 38 countries may travel to the United States without a visa—to carry out similar attacks here.
Passenger Name Records (or PNR) are the data collected by an airline at the time of a passenger's reservation. The data in a PNR is often very detailed and robust. It may, for example, include a cell phone number for text updates or an email address. It will typically also include an address, a credit card number, the name of the traveler, seat selection and flight data, and a link to other travelers who are in the same group or made reservations at the same time. Beyond these basics the PNR can also include a host of other miscellaneous data, like frequent flyer numbers and such.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department issued revised Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies on the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity. The prior version---issued in June 2003---didn’t cover profiling on the basis of religion or national origin, and exempted national security and border investigations altogether.