And from the “One More Reason the World Hates the U.S. File,” there’s this new proposal for increased regulatory travel hassles from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“customs and immigration” for those not into weird pseudo-fascist terminology).

The US administration is pressing the 27 governments of the European Union to sign up for a range of new security measures for transatlantic travel, including allowing armed guards on all flights from Europe to America by US airlines. The demand to put armed air marshals on to the flights is part of a travel clampdown by the Bush administration that officials in Brussels described as “blackmail” and “troublesome”, and could see west Europeans and Britons required to have US visas if their governments balk at Washington’s requirements.

But oh! Oh! It gets better! (And by better I mean worse.)

EU states would also need to supply personal data on all air passengers overflying but not landing in the US in order to gain or retain visa-free travel to America.

Wow. That’s insane ain’t it? The Association of European Airlines has said there is “no international legal foundation” for that. But hey, there was no international legal foundation for Guantánamo either and they got away with that one.

Of course this has generated quite a bit of comment, like this piece in the Guardian as well, questioning if it’s worth the hassle anymore to travel to the U.S. (the author in that case thinks it is).

I agree with some of the commenters on that article that if the US does pull a stunt like requiring visas for non-compliance with these requests, then European countries should throw it right back at ’em, and require visas for U.S. citizens (and I say that with the full knowledge that it would be a pain in the ass to me personally). I also find appeal in the idea of a tourism boycott; more and more tourists are being turned off by these measures (the tourism industry has dropped, I believe, by 17% since 9/11) and there are lots of other places to visit, so a boycott could get some real momentum behind it.

Sadly that does still leave people traveling for business or, like the author of that piece, for family reasons, in the lurch. My guess is that, for frequent travelers they will have (as has been proposed in certain locations) a system whereby you will give over insane amounts of personal information and thereby register on a sort of frequent flyer fast track for booking flights. And if you don’t want to give over that extra information, then fuck off. That would be consistent with U.S. policy on these issues.