[Editor's Note: The following post is by TDV Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Berwick]
The US government is using the Malaysian Airlines flight 370 to tackle the "widespread lack of passport screening in all countries." The US is stepping up their processes. Already each passport of incoming visitors to the US is screened through multiple databases. After flight 370 disappeared, the US has started this process for all outgoing passengers.
"Coupled with this information and the new abilities to act on that information definitely makes air travel a lot safer," according to one government official.
Throughout the video it is hinted numerous times that the US government has new capabilities to screen passengers. Travel is about to get much harder for many US passengers, as bureaucratic red-tape stops them from travel. For many, to be sure, traveling in-or-out of the US has been a nightmare already.
The nightmares that await hundreds of travelers in-and-out of the US are palpable for those paying attention. For nearly any random reason an individual can be denied his or her right to travel by the US bureaucracy, and it happens way more than you think.
US CONTINUES HISTORY OF BURDENED TRAVEL FOR BRITISH CELEBRITIES
Take for example one British celebrity. On her way to the US, she encountered quite a problem, putting her career on the line.
Nigella Lawson was recently prevented from boarding a flight to the United States over a court confession that she took drugs, it has emerged.
Lawson, a celebrity chef, was stopped at a Heathrow boarding gate on her way to Los Angeles this month. She was prevented from boarding the flight to the US due to a drug confession that she has taken drugs. Should she be unable to travel to the US her television career would be effectively ended.
The 54-year-old star confessed that she had snorted cocaine and smoked cannabis in front of her children. Although Scotland Yard has yet to do a thing, the US has taken a stricter policy, outdoing a country which has recently banned drinking in front of your own children and said that act should be punishable by up to ten years in a cage.
It appears US authorities told British Airways not to allow her to travel to California, where she would have been refused entry anyway. The US can disallow certain visitors from entering, even if they haven't ever been charged. To lift any ban could take months or years. In the spirit of transparency, the US Department of Homeland (In)Security’s custom and border protection department declined to comment.
We suspect Lawson was caught up in the requirement that airlines supply US security officials in advance with details regarding all passengers on flights to America in order to screen them against Washington's 'no fly list.'
Lawson had been allowed to travel to the US as recent as January, after her admission to taking drugs. It seems, as Telegraph notes, that US authorities have hardened since then. This is a harrowing trend which Americans best take note of now, before it is too late.
Every single day 366 people are "deemed inadmissable" and refused entry into the US, according to US government statistics, most of which are cooked. The information that Lawson had taken plants (a.k.a. drugs) came out during a bitter divorce trial.
She is far from the first British celebrity said to have found entry into the US difficult due to convictions or drug use. Amy Winehouse, Kate Moss, Russell Brand and Oasis stars Noel and Liam Gallagher are all on that list.
"YOU'RE NOT FLYING ANYWHERE TODAY…THE JUDGE WANTS TO SEE YOU"
But her story is nothing compared to one American family's in particular. Celebrities, and other people in the public spotlight, are far from the only ones who find it difficult to travel in or out of the US. Take Charles and Kathleen Barrett for example. On August 8, 2013 they were barred from leaving Colorado on their way back to where they lived in Cuenca, Ecuador. Charles settled into his seat in a waiting area at the airport and was surrounded by three men, one of whom was wearing a US marshal's costume.
You’re not flying anywhere today,” one of the marshals told him. “The judge wants to see you.”
Charles was forced to turn over his passport and airline ticket and was kidnapped and led out of the airport in handcuffs.
Charles knew what the problem was. In 2007 he had received a large refund from the IRS he and his spouse were not entitled to, the result of a tax return filed without their signatures by their tax preparer. They ultimately testified against the tax preparer.
“When we found out about the mistake, we knew we needed to repay the IRS and had been working with the court to do it,” Charles said. “Based on an agreement, we had paid $5,000 a month for 2 1/2 years and had paid $226,000 in all, almost the total amount we originally owed the IRS.” The Barretts were also filing reports every six weeks with the court, providing documents as requested.
Once in court, Charles did not see the judge who had handled his case but another. It turns out the court had issed a writ of Ne Exeat Republica, ordering the Barretts to turn over their passports. The writ of Ne Exeat Republic is a virtually unknown judicial tool dating to the 18th century English royal court. Its original intention was to restrict travel for political reasons and is occasionally used in the US. It is almost always issued as a civil law action.
The IRS attorney insisted that Barrett go to jail or post bond of $253,000. The judge informed the attorney the writ did not authorize jailing, only the confiscation of passports and other travel documents. The IRS attorney insisted, and ultimately the judged relented. Charles was booked into jail, though no charges were filed.
Kathleen, who was leaving from Grand Junction, 200 miles west of Denver, was experiencing the same abuse. She was also booked into jail. It was two days before anyone knew where she was.
Kathleen and Charles saw each other for the first time in five days on Tuesday August, 13, at a hearing at the federal courthouse in Denver. Their new attorney demanded they be released. Judge Boland agreed, but the marshals refused to obey the judges orders based on the instructions of their superiors. Ultimately, the judge demanded the handcuffs and shackles be removed and they finally were.
Nearly eight months later, the Barretts are still unable to leave the US. Charles has lost the source of income that allowed him to make payments to the IRS.
The Barrett's lawyers are arguing that the IRS has repeatedly misrepresented the facts and has perjured herself on numerous occassions. Since, Judge Boland has been removed from the case. In fact, the Barretts have dealt with three different judges during the process.
The Barretts remain in Colorado, living with Kathleen’s mother.
“We just want the nightmare to end,” says Charles.
Every single day hundreds of people are barred from entering or leaving the US, and many of these individuals are held because of some issue or another, whether or not they are guilty of any crime, with the IRS. As the Barrett's case demonstrates, the IRS will do whatever it takes to make your life a living hell if they believe you have done something wrong, even if you haven't.
Pretty much right off the bat bureaucratic processes take over and the entire situation is out of yours and everybody's hands – even the government courts. The Barretts case shows that bureaucrats within the US government have no problem being in contempt of court, upholding the orders of their superiors before the rulings of the judge.
Getting one's assets outside of the hands of the US government, a government that clearly has no problem stealing in broad daylight from its own citizens, is instrumental to living a near worry-free life. Why become one of the 366 people each day, who, in the process of traveling to the US, find themselves passport-less or thrown in jail? As a result, many of these people have their assets stolen from them, and what they have leftover goes to attorneys whose sole purpose was to prove their innocence. What a witchhunt…
And it is only getting worse. The US government is stepping up its controls on travelers to-and-from the US.
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We have documented countless times about how the borders are closing for Americans… this is just the latest of a disturbing trend.
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