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Justice, Freedom and Security = Fingerprints, Iris Scans and Aerial Drones?

by Almanax Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 04:35:56 AM EST

Fear not! Berlusconi's former Minister for Foreign Affairs (and Intelligence and Security Services) is looking out for us! Franco Frattini, European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security has proposed wide-ranging new border-checks and surveillance mechanisms:

The proposals for a radical shake-up of the EU's border security were unveiled by Mr Frattini in Brussels.

He said the measures would apply to all 24 members of the Schengen accord, and it was up to countries such as the UK and Ireland whether to join in.
Link


Frattini told reporters the bloc should use "the most advanced technology to reach the highest level of security."

"We Europeans are now obliged to put our fingerprints in our passports," he said. "It's very strange that I don't oblige third (non-EU) country nationals to put their fingerprints either in documents like a visa or another register."

Diary rescue by Migeru


[editor's note, by Migeru] Fold inserted here for the Front Page.
All arrivals to and from the European Union would need to provide fingerprints or other biometric identifiers at their first point of entry into any EU country.
...
The sweeping measures would replicate many of the border checks being rolled out in the United States, but would go further in [suggesting] that EU citizens also submit fingerprints to participate in computerized fast-track entry-exit customs controls.
Link
Roscam Abbing [Frattini's spokesman] said the collection of biometric information on travelers could be extended to taking digital photographs and iris scans of visitors' eyes and putting the information into a Europe-wide database.

Link

Frattini's plan also calls for the creation of a European border surveillance system that uses high-resolution satellites and low-flying drones to keep an eye on remote areas such as coastlines and mountains.
I find myself wondering whether the risks and benefits of such enormous databases have really been weighted against each other properly. It may only take a light exogeneous shock such as a medium-scale terror attack to provoke a disproportionate response given the new means of surveillance hereby created. The whole proposal certainly has a very futuristic feel to it, and not in a particularly good way.

I also want to use this opportunity to lament the opaque structure of the EU. Who put Frattini into his position as Commissioner? At least the Americans elected their proto-fascists directly. This behind-the-scenes powerbroking in the EU has to end.

There seems to be a very strange dynamic at play whereby national leaders oppose true accountability through direct pan-European elections, because it would lead to a huge surge in legitimacy of the EU and a great loss of power for national governments, who would lose their claim to be the highest elected officials to the populace. At the same time, however, national leaders seem content with a creeping assumption of more and more powers by the EU. A great gap between power and accountability has already opened up.

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I find myself wondering whether the risks and benefits of such enormous databases have really been weighted against each other properly.

Of course they haven't. If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear.

  • The elites will never, ever be dragged out of their homes in the dead of night by armed counter-terrorist teams and subjected to humiliating show trials before being sent to prison for so long that they'll be old and grey (well, older and greyer, at any rate) before they're let out again.

  • The elites will never, ever be denied health insurance because they have a genetic disposition for an expensive disease.

  • The elites will never, ever be targeted by corporations for personal and destruction due to their inconvenient agitation for the rights of poor people.

  • The elites do not have brown skin, and they are not Muslims. And they can afford to live in gated communities shielded from the social unrest that their policies cause.

So why should they care about making sure that little things like due process and the right to privacy are observed? It's not like they have any reason to fear the repressive power of an out-of-control police state.

It may only take a light exogeneous shock such as a medium-scale terror attack to provoke a disproportionate response given the new means of surveillance hereby created.

[...]

A great gap between power and accountability has already opened up.

To borrow one of Jerome's phrases, those are features, not bugs.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 12:55:13 PM EST
Brillaint..

though one may answer.. well it could happen to them one day.. if they cross the wrong guy... Stalin style.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 01:40:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True. In principle, they could be in for a night of long knives. But they don't believe that that's a real risk. Remember that these are largely the same people who thought that playing chicken with the second-biggest nuclear arsenal on the planet was responsible foreign policy during the Cold War.

Disgust is too kind a word.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 12:16:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The elites will also not be subject to travel restrictions and other "security measures."
Also - "European citizenship" is being defined by stark "ins versus outs" mentality. Immigrants and third country nationals (especially illegal ones from certain countries), temporary permit holders are on one side of the wall, while EU citizens are on the other side of the wall. This is not a healthy way to define "citizenship of the Union."

I see "EU citizenship" being defined in a rather xenophobia fashion, and people should be alarmed about this development...

by euamerican on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 11:02:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Franco Frattini is, in my view, another "American" European leader whose views appear to like the views of neo-fascist, "law and order" American Conservatives that believe that such things as human rights, individual rights and due process "just gets in the way of good policing."

A couple of weeks ago I saw an newsarticle where Frattini advocated the "cleaning out" of Roma camps in Italy. This view follows the anti-homeless policies that American police agencies have in "cleaning out" the camps of homeless people and making arrests for "trespassing."

I find that Franco Frattini is a bit of a crackpot as well as an obvious threat to Europe's higher standards of human rights and personal liberty. Frattini must go and there should be more attention paid to who is being seated on College of Commissioners.

by euamerican on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 01:42:29 PM EST
This is exactly the sort of thing that causes the gun nuts in the U.S. to argue that they need to keep their pistols, rifles, machine guns, body armour, and tanks. The revolution might not be televised, but it will be on YouTube.

Here are some of them out on the prairie east of Colorado Springs, getting ready for when you guys are ready to do something about the "gap between power and responsibility"...  :-)

(YouTube macro doesn't seem to work the way I thought it did.)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soWWlXFbz1Y

by asdf on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 10:25:54 PM EST
As I've said before, the gun nuts think that they'll still be free as long as they've got "their pistols, rifles, machine guns, body armour, and tanks".
by Gag Halfrunt on Fri Feb 15th, 2008 at 02:02:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What the heck is this about?!
Can we return to sane and responsible conversation?
by euamerican on Sat Feb 16th, 2008 at 10:51:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, remaining free(ish) is exactly what it is about.
You may think the "Gun nuts" have the wrong approach (I might agree), but I suggest that a neofascist ex-Berlusconi flake having anything at all to do with "justice" ought to sugges5t that the hour is rather late. Your own experiences with "working within the system" in your efforts to study in Germany also are educational.

Capitalism searches out the darkest corners of human potential, and mainlines them.
by geezer in Paris (risico at wanadoo(flypoop)fr) on Sun Feb 17th, 2008 at 11:03:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with the notion of armed revolution is that it really doesn't seem to do a whole lot of good. I can count the number of armed revolutions that didn't eat their children on one hand and still have fingers left.

Now, we can have a lot of ideas about why that is (personally I think it has something to do with the mindset(s) that revolutionary war encourages), but it seems to be a reality.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Feb 20th, 2008 at 02:43:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i saw frantini interviewed the other night, what a piece of work..

The problem with the notion of armed revolution is that it really doesn't seem to do a whole lot of good.

couldn't agree more.

violence begets violence, end of story.

besides, if the idea is powerful enough, it can win over violence. cf ghandi.

what will it take to bring out the kind of non-violent numbers to peacefully revolt?

we can rest assured our overlords are exquisitely calibrating their policies around this tipping point.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 07:44:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Totalitarian regimes have collapsed through a variety of means.  How did the societies of Hitler or Stalin finally end?  One through a very violent and relatively quick external process and the other, through a very slow but minimally violent process.

Against an external occupying power, both violent and non-violent opposition has worked with the examples of India and Iraq.  India suffered immensely after ridding themselves of the Brits during the realignment. Of course, Iraq is destroying itself in the process of ridding a foreign conqueror.  So both non-violent and violent resistence have success against outside occupiers but both processes producing a period of widespread disruption, misery and death.

The question is which is most successful against an internal power elite?  I suspect the success of a non-violent approach is really dependent on the power elite's willingness to use merciless brutality.  

Unfortunately, organized, totalitarian governments are very tough to bring down either violently or non-violently.  I suspect the collapse of a corrupt and authoritarian government will produce widespread death and misery regardless of whether the process is internally violent or non-violent.

The key is preventing the creation of an authoritarian government in the first place.  Once in place, misery is guaranteed.

by Jagger on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 12:46:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, I've owned guns: AR-15, SKS, Beretta 92F, semi-auto 22s target rifles. I live in an area of the country (Wisconsin) where autumn hunting is part of the culture. I'm glad that you have fun with you guns, and it probably requires a licence for those, so I don't worry about you being some kind of mentally unstable person. Watching tracer rounds is a whole lot of fun, ain't it?

However, if a second revolution ever came again to America, I'd leave for Europe! I'd get the hell out of here! I have a feeling that if a second revolution ever came to America, it would be more like France 1789 than the often romanticized images of 1776...

As far as going to Europe with a conviction record, I intend to try to do it legally to the greatest extent possible.

by euamerican on Thu Feb 21st, 2008 at 04:28:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf:
Here are some of them out on the prairie east of Colorado Springs, getting ready for when you guys are ready to do something about the "gap between power and responsibility"...  :-)
I cannot imagine any power in their right mind attempting to occupy the US.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 06:17:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Justice, Freedom and Security = Fingerprints, Iris Scans and Aerial Drones?

I also want to use this opportunity to lament the opaque structure of the EU. Who put Frattini into his position as Commissioner? At least the Americans elected their proto-fascists directly. This behind-the-scenes powerbroking in the EU has to end.

The Commission was supposed to be non-partisan and to have one  Commissioner from each member state. This means the Italian commissioner would have been a pal of Berlusconi in any event. The European Parliament already shot down one Commission over the Italian commissioner chosen for the "Justice, Freedom and Security" portfolio. It appears we got second worst.

Wikipedia: Barroso Commission

During the hearings, members found fault in a number of Commissioners. Committees questioned the sutibility of Ingrida Udre (Taxation and Customs Union), László Kovács (Energy), Neelie Kroes (Competition) and Mariann Fischer-Boel (Agriculture). However the most controversial was Rocco Buttiglione as European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security due to his conservative comments (on women's position in marriage and that homosexuality was a sin) which, in the eyes of some MEPs, made him unsuitable for a job securing civil rights in the EU[16] leading to the civil rights committee to be the first committee to vote down an incoming Commissioner.[17]
This will change under the Lisbon Treaty: the Commission will be reduced to around 15 members and it will no longer be required that all member states be represented. I am not sure whether the nonpartisan character (currently coming from the variability in the political colour of the national governments) will be preserved.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 26th, 2008 at 06:15:08 AM EST


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