"Now we are all Americans. Or prosecutors of Americans. Or whatever."
If you wondered whether the Bush Administration was being paranoid when it said that the ICC would be used against Americans, this ought to help with the answer.
The Border Measures proposals are also still subject to considerable disagreement. Some countries are seeking de minimum rules, the removal of certain clauses, and a specific provision to put to rest fears of iPod searching customs officials by excluding personal baggage that contains goods of a non-commercial nature.
It’s June 14, 2003 at Chicago’s O’Hare international airport. The U.S.-led war to topple Saddam Hussein’s Ba’athist regime in Iraq was launched a little less than three months ago. Resurgent fears of terrorism have kept some would-be passengers from the skies, but O’Hare is still operating at a fairly brisk pace.
A Jordanian man named Ra’ed al-Banna is among the throng of passengers who have just arrived on KLM flight 611 from Amsterdam. After waiting in line, al-Banna presents his passport to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
The CBP officers consult the computerized targeting system used to screen passengers who seek to enter the U.S. The information about al-Banna – drawn from his airline reservations and past travel – triggers a closer look. The officers examine al-Banna’s documents, and they begin asking him questions.
Something doesn’t add up. Al-Banna has a legitimate Jordanian passport; he holds a valid visa that allows him to work in the United States; and he had visited the U.S. before for a lengthy stay. But the officers aren’t satisfied that he’s being completely truthful with his answers, so they decide to refuse him admission. Al-Banna’s fingerprints are taken, and he is put on a plane back to Jordan.
So far it sounds like a fairly routine day at the border. And it was, until events in Iraq nearly two years later gave it a new, and sinister, significance.
On February 28, 2005, at about 8:30 in the morning, several hundred police recruits were lined up outside a clinic in Hilla, a city in the south of Iraq. With no warning, a car drove into the crowd and detonated a massive bomb. 132 people were killed, and about as many were wounded. At the time, it was the deadliest suicide bombing Iraq had seen.
The driver was Ra’ed al-Banna. We know that because when authorities found the steering wheel of his car, his forearm was still chained to it.
No one knows why al-Banna wanted to be in the U.S. in 2003, or what he would have done if he had gotten in. But we do know what kept him out – the government’s ability to quickly marshal the data that first triggered a closer look, and that the CBP officer later used to question al-Banna closely and to conclude that his answers weren’t satisfactory.
At the center of that system was airline reservation data, known as Passenger Name Records or “PNR.”
A much faster way to provide relief would be for Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to exercise her power under the law and approve such status by executive order. But she has no such intention, said her spokesman, Sean Smith.
"There is no change in our policy on temporary protected status, and deportations to Haiti are continuing," he said Tuesday. "And let me be clear: No one living in Haiti right now should be attempting to come to the United States in hopes that they will be granted TPS."
Washington Times - Protected status sought for Haitians
The officials declined to enumerate the questions but said they went to the case against each detainee that Europe might be asked to accept. They also sought assurances that the policies underlying the system of detention in Guantanamo are a thing of the past.
"We have a list of questions, not conditions," said Ivan Langer, the Czech interior minister whose country currently holds the presidency of the European Union. He added at a news conference Monday in Washington, "There is one condition: maximum information."
Accompanying Langer was Jacques Barrot, a vice president of the European Commission. The visit was the first formal senior contact between the European Union and the Obama administration.
Langer said the decision of whether to accept detainees is one for individual states within the union, but because of open borders in continental Europe, officials there would like an agreed framework among the member states in advance of any transfers from Guantanamo.
As an example, Van Loan said Canada is interested on reopening talks with the Obama administration about opening U.S. customs pre-clearance facilities at Canadian land border crossings. The aim would be to allow trucks carrying goods to the U.S. to clear American customs before they arrive at the border, "the same way we pre-clear passengers at airports" in several Canadian cities. The idea went nowhere under the Bush administration.
Several witnesses at Tuesday's hearing echoed James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who argued that the "greatest failing" of the CNCI was that the initiative "despite its name, was not comprehensive." In part because it was launched under a veil of secrecy and without statutory support, the CNCI focused primarily on securing the dot-gov domain. But as a report sent to Congress last month by the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection stressed, 85 percent of the nation's critical infrastructure is privately owned and operated.
The arrest of Khoshnevisrad was an unexpected bonus in those efforts, U.S. officials said. After tracking the businessman and his import company, Ariasa, for months, investigators with U.S. Customs and Border Protection discovered that the entrepreneur was traveling from Iran to the United States for what was believed to be his first visit to this country.