November 11, 2008
Big Brother, May I? Soon, You’ll Need Uncle Sam’s Permission to Travel Almost Anywhere
Last year, I wrote that if Uncle Sam gets its way, we’d all be on no-fly lists, unless the government gives us permission to leave—or re-enter—the United States. That day has now arrived, but in addition to obtaining Big Brother’s permission to travel internationally, a final rule pursuant to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration’s “Secure Flight” initiative says we must now get it to travel from state-to-state.”
For now, permission to travel applies only to air transport. However, the TSA could of course extend it to train, bus, or auto travel anytime. (Just imagine TSA checkpoints on interstates at every state border.) And, while the TSA hasn’t announced the effective date of the rule, it did reveal what information it would need in order to leave, say, San Francisco, to fly to Las Vegas for a weekend on the Strip.
At some point in the future, you’ll need to reveal your name, gender, and date of birth when you make a domestic airline reservation. The airline will contact TSA to determine if you’re cleared to board. If you’re on any of TSA’s watchlists (which include such deceased “terrorists” as Saddam Hussein, along with live ones such as Sen. Edward Kennedy), you’ll need to provide an official document acceptable for federal identification purposes in order to travel. Examples of acceptable identity documents are passports and the “enhanced” driver’s licenses required under the ill-fated “Real ID Act.” If you can’t produce such a document, you can’t board the plane.
This is the first time the U.S. government has restricted the right of sovereign citizens to travel inside the United States since the Civil War. And the TSA is imposing this restriction, despite numerous rulings from the Supreme Court indicating that you have a Constitutional right to travel. According to the court, the right to travel is "not a mere conditional liberty subject to regulation and control under conventional due process or equal protection standards," but "a virtually unconditional personal right." International travel is specifically protected as well, for "Travel abroad, like travel within the country, may be necessary for a livelihood…Freedom of movement is basic to our scheme of values."
Further, the U.S. government has reiterated in its most recent report to the United Nations Human Rights Committee that, “…[I]n the United States, the right to travel—both domestically and internationally—is constitutionally protected." Perhaps it’s time the government amend this declaration!
What this amounts to is essentially a reprise of the infamous "internal passport" system in effect in the former Soviet Union. In 1933, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin introduced "internal passports" that prohibited Soviet citizens from leaving their place of residence without permission. Over time, the internal passport became the prime instrument of Soviet oppression over its citizens.
It's bad enough needing to ask Uncle Sam for permission to leave the United States, and to reenter it. But an internal passport is a blueprint for totalitarianism.
Copyright © 2008 by Mark Nestmann
Since Sept. 11, 2001, it's become difficult to travel without subjecting yourself to intrusive surveillance. However, it's still possible to travel privately, and in some cases, virtually anonymously. Click here to learn how.
Posted at 04:21 PM in Travel Privacy | Permalink