Critics: U.S. security too harsh

At the White House, Homeland Security officials and their British counterparts agreed to develop procedures to handle terrorist threats against international flights. The meeting followed a chaotic week at London’s Heathrow airport. British Airways Flight 223 to Dulles International Airport outside Washington was delayed or canceled several times over terrorism concerns and also because British Airways pilots objected to U.S. demands that armed marshals be on board.

Among the policies causing concern abroad:

. Armed marshals must be placed on any flight into the USA at the direction of U.S. officials. The British government agreed, but other governments – including Sweden, Portugal and South Africa – objected.

Homeland Security officials say the demand will only be made based on specific intelligence about a flight.

. Foreigners who need visas to enter the USA must be fingerprinted and photographed as part of a new government program to keep terrorists out and track foreigners allowed in. “We’re not doing it to harass anybody,” Powell said. “We’re not doing it to keep anyone but the wrong (people) out of the country.”

. Countries such as Great Britain and Japan, whose citizens are not required to get visas to enter the USA, must put chips in all new passports by Oct. 26 containing digital photos and fingerprints. U.S. officials acknowledge that the countries won’t be able to meet the deadline.

Asa Hutchinson, the Homeland Security Department’s border security chief, said that despite the complaints, the United States is working in “close cooperation” with foreign governments on new security mandates.

But critics say the U.S. government has been heavy-handed in implementing the new policies. By announcing them during a high-alert crisis, it appears that the United States is “using fear about the possibility of an attack as a substitute for diplomacy,” said Ivo Daalder, a national security aide in the Clinton White House.

Steve Flynn of the Council on Foreign Relations said, “The tool we need more than anything else (to fight terrorism) is greater international cooperation in finding who the bad guys are. That requires carrots, not sticks.”

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