This Is Not Your Father’s Democratic Majority

With their newly-minted majority just hours away from inauguration, the Democrats have made many plans on how they will run Congress over the next two years. However, the New York Times reminds us that the new majority has some fractious potential thanks to the large percentage who have never served in the majority — and thanks to another factor the Times neglects to mention:

Those divergent outlooks over how best to fulfill the Democratic promise to clean up the House are just one illustration of a friction that could develop in the new Congress as the party takes control after 12 years in exile. While most attention will be focused on the divide between Republicans and Democrats, members of the new majority have their own differing perspectives, corresponding largely to length of service, that could ultimately prove more crucial to their success or failure.
Of 233 Democrats who will be sworn in on Thursday, 147 — 63 percent — have been elected since Republicans won control of the House in 1994, and have never served in the majority. Those whose service predates the 1994 revolution, on the other hand, number only 86, or 37 percent. But it is this core of senior Democrats, Mr. Dingell among them, who will lead 20 of the 21 major committees and so exercise concentrated legislative power.
The differences in tenure tend to manifest themselves geographically as well. The makeup of the senior membership has a more urban flavor, while those more recently elected tend to come from the suburbs and exurbs. These newer members have faced tougher electoral opposition than their older counterparts, who in many cases represent overwhelmingly safe Democratic districts; a majority of new chairmen have traditional liberal roots.

The issue at hand in this Carl Hulse analysis is ethics reform, but it may just as well be universal health care, energy policy, or any of a number of policy questions facing the Democrats after twelve years in the wilderness, at least legislatively. In order to win control of the House, the Democrats had to moderate their message across a wide front to win suburban voters disillusioned, at least momentarily, by the GOP. As a result, their new profile reflects the center more than the traditional pillars of liberalism, such as labor and urban concerns, and their constituents care more about fiscal responsibility than in funding massive programs.
Of course, the Democrats could choose to ignore that and stuff their programs down the throats of the freshmen. In doing so, they would kiss 2008 goodbye and in all likelihood would gain nothing from it. That comes from two uncomfortable facts, both of which Hulse mostly misses. The first and most obvious fact is that the Republicans still control the White House, and George Bush will probably spend the next two years giving full vent to his veto power. The second and more subtle is that the Democrats do not have the numbers to beat a presidential veto or a minority filibuster in the Senate, and that will put an end to any notion of remaking government.
The Democrats will, if they’re smart, spend the next two years making a case for one-party government after spending the last six complaining about it. They need either much bigger majorities or the White House, and preferably both. If they hope to accomplish that, they will need to consolidate their gains in this last election, and the surest way to fail at that will be to start massive government programs that will infuriate the suburban voters who just gave the keys to the Democrats for a test drive.
Democrats have to focus on the issues which they can change on their own, without having to worry about vetoes or filibusters, and that means two areas: rules and investigations. Now that they have subpoena power, they can stage as many investigations as they like, and they will give full rein to this impulse. They can also adapt House rules as they like, and so they have the power to actually accomplish some real reform. However, they have already blown that issue through Nancy Pelosi’s insistence on championing such paragons of virtue as Alcee Hastings and John Murtha for key leadership positions.
Expect, then, to see earmark reform and clean government to take a back seat to subpoenas and hearings. The Democrats will be unable to unite long enough to do much of anything else, and this Congress will do less legislatively than any in recent memory.
UPDATE: EJ Dionne notes the absolute need for Democrats to focus on reform:

The Democrats who take power in Congress on Thursday have been given an opportunity that has not come their party’s way for a half-century: They can remake their own image — and Congress’s — and they can begin to restore public confidence in government. …
If Democrats don’t seize this rare opportunity, their party will pay for a long time. Not only will they disillusion their own supporters, but, more important, the angry centrists of the Ross Perot stripe who voted the Republicans out last year will either go back to the GOP or seek other options.
The first opportunity in the House will come on the very first day, when a package of reforms comes up for a vote. The Senate will take its own steps soon after. At stake initially are new ethics and lobbying rules. Over time House and Senate leaders will have to prove their commitment to bringing more democracy to the way Congress is run. A country that claims a mission to democracy and transparent government in the rest of the world needs to get its own institutions in order.

Some of these reforms look pretty good. They ban House members from accepting lobbyist-paid travel and company planes as well as gifts of any stripe from lobbyists. They are also considering a disclosure system for earmarks that would force lobbyists to claim responsibility for each specific earmark proposed as well as naming the House member that sponsored it. The latter has already been accomplished by the GOP on their way out of Congress, but anything that would strengthen the rule and further connect earmarks to the interests pushing them would be a significant improvement. However, the value of these reforms lie in the details, as Dionne notes. If they allow Representatives to bypass these restrictions based on the meaning of the word ‘is’, then expect the voters to be less than impressed.
Dionne thinks that reform is the most critical issue for Democrats hoping to make their majority a habit. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure that the Democratic leadership agrees — as the aborted promotion of Hastings and Murtha demonstrates.

Thats Why They Play The Games

Michigan and its fans spent a lot of time over the last few weeks arguing that they should have gone to the BCS championship game against Ohio State. Instead, they faced off against the two-loss Trojans of USC in the Rose Bowl, ranked five places below the Wolverines. Instead of making the case that the BCS stiffed them, Michigan played like stiffs in losing the Rose Bowl to USC:

There were no Heismans or national titles up for grabs for Southern California in this one. Given the way Dwayne Jarrett, John David Booty and that suffocating USC defense played, it was hard to tell.
Jarrett, the sensational USC receiver, caught 11 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns to help the eighth-ranked Trojans finish their season with a statement Monday in a 32-18 Rose Bowl romp over Michigan.
Booty threw for 391 yards and four scores to land himself on the early short list of next season’s Heisman favorites. Jarrett could be there, too, if he decides to come back. Linebacker Brian Cushing had 2 1/2 sacks and defensive end Lawrence Jackson came up with two turnovers – a fumble recovery and an interception – on a day when USC allowed only 321 yards.

Michigan would never have had an argument at all had USC played this well against UCLA in its season finale. The Trojans looked inept against their crosstown rivals in losing their second game of the season, and it ruined the dream matchup of the 2005 runner-up and the season-long #1 in 2006. Michigan argued that their one-loss season should have given them priority over Florida, considering that they played a tougher schedule and had only lost to the Buckeyes, and that by only three points in a shootout.
That wasn’t the only team exposed in the bowl games, either. Penn State did a nice job of embarrassing Tennessee, which must have considered the unranked Nittany Lions an easy mark for a year-end celebration. Instead, the 17th-ranked Volunteers ran out of gas against PSU, allowing Joe Paterno’s team to score 10 points in the final quarter, the final margin of victory.
Or, for those who stayed up late to watch it, take one of the greatest football bowl games in recent memory. Boise State, from the lowly WAC, went undefeated as did Ohio State, but because of the discounting done by sports writers and football coaches could not play for the national championship. They got matched up against Oklahoma and most expected them to lose. Instead, the gutsy team from Idaho outplayed and outcoached the Sooners and beat them in a thrilling overtime win:

Boise State proved it belonged in the BCS and started another lively college football debate. The ninth-ranked Broncos completed a perfect season with an exhilarating 43-42 overtime victory over No. 7 Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl Monday night, leaving Boise State and top-ranked Ohio State as the only teams with perfect records.
The Buckeyes will play No. 2 Florida for the BCS national championship on the same field Jan. 8, but the Broncos (13-0) believe they belong in that game.
And why not? Boise State showed plenty of heart and resilience in edging the Sooners (11-3) in one of the more amazing games in recent memory.

Did they ever. They ran up an 18-point lead before Oklahoma began a tough comeback in the second half, and twice rallied back from seven-point deficits afterwards. When their quarterback threw an interception that went back for a touchdown with a minute left, the game looked over to everyone but BSU, who scored a touchdown with seven seconds left. On OT, rather than kick an extra point to tie after Oklahoma scored on its possession, they ran a two-point conversion and succeeded on a counter play. It showed that the undefeated team that won no respect from the experts had the heart and the talent to play with the top tier of college football.
So what does all of this mean? It means, as many of us have argued for the last few years, that the BCS has done nothing to establish a national champion. Until we get a real playoff, just as the lower NCAA divisions use for football, we never will have a real national champion. However, we do have a system that allows us to continue arguing about it — so perhaps it has its advantages.
Addendum: Do CQ readers think Notre Dame beats LSU in Wednesday’s Sugar Bowl?

French Toast For The New Year

The French have spent their New Year in much the same manner they have spent the last few that preceded it — by the glow of the fires of their vehicles. In a disturbing new tradition, residents of the Muslim banlieus have set fire to over 300 vehicles:

A car burns after a huge police operation involving 25,000 officers failed to quell one of the most entrenched new year rituals in France, with vandals — many of them children — setting on fire 313 vehicles throughout the country. The worst-hit region was Alsace, where 106 vehicles were set ablaze, including 28 in Strasbourg.
The attacks are seen as a product of tension on the suburban estates that are home to the bulk of France’s five-million-strong immigrant community. Most of the cars were burnt in areas with unemployment rates of up to 40 per cent. The national average is 8.7 per cent.
In the Seine-Saint-Denis département — one of the most troubled areas — officers detained three children aged between 10 and 12 carrying petrol cans. In Élancourt a car was driven into a children’s leisure centre and set on fire.

This is success; the massive police presence actually lowered the number of torched cars from 425 to 313, a 25% reduction. It’s remarkable, however, that with that level of police involvement, that 313 cars still got lit up — and that this arson problem continues for at least two years after its eruption.

Lufthansa Bars Air Marshals From Flights

Note: This post originally ran during the Christmas holiday, and is being repeated for those who may have missed it.
If you’re flying betwen the US and Europe, you may want to avoid flying Lufthansa. According to Der Spiegel, the German airliner has begun denying Germany’s air marshals the expensive seats near the cockpit where they can protect the flight crew — and often refuses to give them any tickets at all:

The officer swore an oath of secrecy on becoming a sky marshal, so his name can’t be revealed — in fact no sky marshal has spoken about his work since the German government created the jobs in October 2001, shortly after 9/11. “Inspektion 6,” the sky-marshal unit of the Federal Police Authority at Frankfurt airport, is the most secretive German police organization next to the elite GSG9 force.
But the situation for sky marshals has never been as depressing as it is now, says the officer and a one of his colleagues. Official figures claim that 200 police officers travel constantly on German passenger jets to prevent 9/11-style attacks with civilian aircraft. In fact, there are only 112 (as of Nov. 1 2006) — and they aren’t flying as much as they used to, according to the two officers.
The men say Lufthansa keeps cancelling first- or business-class tickets that would put them close to the cockpit — and sometimes bumps them off flights entirely. “They don’t want to give out expensive seats anymore,” complains one of the officers.
The head of Germany’s police union, Konrad Freiberg, finds the notion alarming. “If the price of a ticket is more important than a central security task, then the balance has shifted in the wrong direction,” he said.

Der Spiegel’s source is apparently the first German air marshal to give an interview to any publication, as they consider themselves an elite force dedicated to the clandestine protection of travelers against terrorism. However, they have increasingly found that the airlines themselves — most particularly Lufthansa, the largest airline — have tired of the revenue lost to the air marshals. Five years after 9/11, the lack of a repeat episode has convinced them that the risk is lower than the cost of the increased security.
Amazingly, the most common flights for cancellations are Lufthansa’s intercontinental flights. Despite the obvious focus that terrorists would have on these flights, especially to the Middle East and North America, Lufthansa has refused to issue tickets to the marshals unless they cannot sell out the flight, which forces the marshals to wait until the last moment to make their flight choices, if they get on at all. That means that Lufthansa flights from the US, especially the heavily-traveled routes, will almost certainly have no extra security on board.
And if that’s not bad enough, Der Spiegel says another major airliner refuses to allow any air marshals on board any of its flights. DS refused to name the carrier for “obvious security reasons”.
Lufthansa denies that they have been uncooperative with German air marshals. DS has more than one source in the program, though, and even an anonymous Lufthansa pilot that confirms the story. It seems that Lufthansa may be less that fully forthcoming about its relationship with the German air marshal service.
Perhaps people should rethink their travel plans and use another airliner other than Lufthansa. If enough travelers opt for Lufthansa’s competitors after getting commitments to full cooperation with air marshals, then Lufthansa will have plenty of available seating for the men who would protect Germans and Americans from another terrorist attack on the airline industry.

Iran Pays For Kassam Attacks In Israel

Note: This post originally ran during the Christmas holiday, and is being repeated for those who may have missed it.
The Iranian proxy terrorist group Hezbollah transfers thousands of dollars for every Kassam rocket attack launched by Palestinian terrorists from Fatah and Islamic Jihad, the Jerusalem Post reports. The scale escalates if the attack kills or wounds Israelis, and the money originates in Iran:

According to Israeli intelligence information, Hizbullah is smuggling cash into the Gaza Strip and paying “a number of unknown local splinter groups” for each attack.
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) sources said the Islamist organization paid several thousand dollars for each attack, with the amount dependent on the number of Israelis killed or wounded. …
According to the officials, while Islamic Jihad was behind most recent rocket attacks – including the one on Tuesday night that critically wounded 14-year-old Adir Basad in Sderot – several splinter terrorists groups are also involved and have received direct funding from Hizbullah. … Islamic Jihad gets the money via its headquarters in Damascus while Fatah’s Tanzim terror group and the Popular Resistance Committees receive payment from Hizbullah in Lebanon.
All of the money originated in Iran, the officials said.

Once again, Iran shows why negotiations on any kind of security arrangements for Iraq or anywhere else in the Middle East will prove fruitless. Iran occupies the central position for terrorism throughout the region; it assists the militias in Iraq, it supports the Hezbollah push to overthrow the Lebanese government, and now we see that it directly funds the Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli citizens. It even funds Fatah terror groups while Ehud Olmert insists on propping up their leader with a hundred million in cash.
Olmert, meanwhile, has implemented a policy that hopes to maintain a cease-fire that doesn’t really exist. While the missile attacks continue from the PA areas supposedly participating in this cease-fire, Olmert has freed the IDF to attack only “pinpoint” locations where the Kassams originate. Olmert insists that the cease-fire has great strategic importance, because — get this — Israel’s restraint had earned it “a lot of understanding and appreciation” around the world. Not only that, but the cease-fire had given Israel some undefined future “leeway”.
Leeway to do what? Stop abiding by a phony cease-fire? I must have missed all the “appreciation” thrown Israel’s way for its restraint. Israel has shown restraint for years in not giving the Palestinians the total war that for which they have voted and for which they have given ample provocation, and it has bought them nothing from the global community except criticism even from their friends, who sometimes seem to prefer Israel as victim rather than as victor.
I’m all for peaceful solutions, but that takes two sides that want peace. Israel clearly wants peace with the Palestinians, while the Palestinians want Israel and nothing less. And one of the reasons why that remains so is because of Iranian funding for the extremists and terrorists who get richer with every terrorist action. The ISG got it backwards; only when we convince the other states in the region that their support for terrorism carries an existential threat to their regimes will there be peace in the Holy Land, and not the other way around.

Unable Danger?

Note: This post originally ran during the Christmas holiday, and is being repeated for those who may have missed it.
The Able Danger story has come to an end, at least for the moment, as the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence has dismissed claims made by former Rep. Curt Weldon and members of the AD team about their data before 9/11. The SSIC says that the claim that the AD effort had identified Mohammed Atta resulted from a confusion of names and that the effort actually identified none of the 9/11 attackers not already known to intelligence agencies (h/t CQ reader LEJ):

The Senate Intelligence Committee has rejected as untrue one of the most disturbing claims about the Sept. 11 terrorist strikes — a congressman’s contention that a team of military analysts identified Mohamed Atta or other hijackers before the attacks — according to a summary of the panel’s investigation obtained by The Times.
The conclusion contradicts assertions by Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) and a few military officers that U.S. national security officials ignored startling intelligence available in early 2001 that might have helped to prevent the attacks.
In particular, Weldon and other officials have repeatedly claimed that the military analysts’ effort, known as Able Danger, produced a chart that included a picture of Atta and identified him as being tied to an Al Qaeda cell in Brooklyn, N.Y. Weldon has also said that the chart was shared with White House officials, including Stephen J. Hadley, then deputy national security advisor.
But after a 16-month investigation, the Intelligence Committee has concluded that those assertions are unfounded.
“Able Danger did not identify Mohammed Atta or any other 9/11 hijacker at any time prior to Sept. 11, 2001,” the committee determined, according to an eight-page letter sent last week to panel members by the top Republican and Democrat on the committee.

I and many others have documented the efforts of Weldon and AD team members Tony Shaffer and Scott Philpott. The latter two men put their military careers on the line with their statements that positively asserted Atta had been identified prior to 9/11. It is difficult to see how they would have benefitted from becoming whistleblowers by insisting on this point even after Shaffer essentially got fired from his job by losing his security clearance. Philpott and Shaffer both insisted that they had discussed this with the 9/11 Commission, which the panel at first denied and then retracted, claiming that the program had little significance to their efforts.
So what does the SSIC say happened? The AD unit made charts of known AQ members, one of which bore a superficial resemblance to Atta. The profusion of names and aliases, along with the usual confusion of transliterating Arabic names, led to even more confusion on the point. Essentially, the SSIC says that Able Danger did not produce anything not already known to the intelligence community, and that Weldon is wrong about Hadley seeing Atta’s name on the chart after 9/11.
This still leaves plenty of questions. Why did the House Intelligence Committee meet with Able Danger lead analyst Dr. Eileen Preisser a month after the 9/11 attacks, a meeting that apparently is still classified? What happened to Shaffer’s materials between his initial contact with Philip Zelikow and his subsequent attempt to inform the 9/11 Commission? None of these issues get adequately addressed by the “confusion” answer. Either Shaffer is a fool or a liar, and that makes Philpott one of the two as well — and no one has ever come up with a convincing argument for the latter choice.
Hopefully, the full report will be declassified to determine how the SSIC reached its conclusions.

Mugabe Shutting Down Newspapers

The political situation continues to deteriorate in Zimbabwe, even as it improves in Somalia. Dictator Robert Mugabe has ordered the closure of a newspaper opposed to his rule by stripping its publisher of his Zimbabwean citizenship:

Robert Mugabe’s government has moved to close Zimbabwe’s remaining independent press by stripping newspaper owner Trevor Ncube of his citizenship.
The action against the publisher comes as Mr Mugabe, 82 and president for 26 years, pushes for an extension to his term of office by a further two years. Frustrated by unprecedented resistance from within his Zanu-PF party, he appears to be trying to silence all of his critics.
Yesterday an outspoken opponent, Lovemore Madhuku, accused the police of failing to investigate a fire at his home, which he said was arson. “It is very clear that the government is trying to silence all critical voices, including Trevor Ncube and his newspapers, and me. We are all opposed to Mugabe’s attempts to extend his rule to 2010,” said Madhuku, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, when I spoke about aid to Africa, I warned about supporting oppressive regimes through the indiscriminate use of aid funds. When I spoke with Bono and Bob Geldof in a conference call for Live Aid 8. they assured me and everyone else on the call that Mugabe wouldn’t see a dime from it, and this is the reason for that concern.
This seems even more ridiculous than usual. Stripping a man of his citizenship to silence his newspaper takes oppression of free speech to a ridiculous low. Mugabe claims that because Ncube’s father was Zambian, Ncube does not qualify as a Zimbabwean. However, Ncube was born in Zimbabwe and has never lived elsewhere, making his citizenship very clear to all but the worst of African tyrants. Ncube’s father was a citizen of Zimbabwe by the time Ncube was born, in any case.
Ncube runs the only two independent newspapers left in Zimbabwe. He alone reported that Mugabe’s own party voted against his latest attempt to hold power. Mugabe has to find a way to shut them down in order to keep his thumb on Zimbabwe and extend his rule, which has already lasted for more than a quarter-century. If the citizenship dodge doesn’t work, Mugabe will no doubt use extrajudicial manners in which to silence one of the few people with any ability to oppose him.

Islamists Bug Out Of Somalia

Radical Islamists have given up their last stronghold in Somalia, chased out by the Ethiopian Army that has spent the last two weeks crushing them. The Ethiopians and the Somialian transitional government liberated Kismayo as the Islamists beat a hasty retreat towards Kenya:

Somali government troops backed by Ethiopian tanks and fighter jets captured the last major stronghold of a militant Islamic movement Monday, while hundreds of Islamic fighters — many of them Arabs and South Asians — fled the town.
To cheering and waving crowds, well-armed troops drove into Kismayo after clearing roads laced with land mines that had been left by an estimated 3,000 hard-line Islamic fighters fleeing a 13-day military onslaught by government troops backed by Ethiopian tanks and MiG fighter jets.
“We have entered and captured the city,” Maj. Gen. Ahmed Musa told The Associated Press while riding aboard a truck into Kismayo, where the Islamic fighters had vowed to make a last stand but melted away under artillery fire.
Hundreds of gunmen, who apparently deserted from the Islamic movement, began looting warehouses where the Council of Islamic Courts had stored supplies, including weapons and ammunition.

Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi proclaimed the victory as an end to the warlord era in Somalia, and offered an olive branch to the Islamist fighters. He offered them amnesty, but did not include the leaders of the UIC as part of that offer. Gedi wants to disarm Somalis as a way to end the chaos and division of the past 15 years, and finding paths to reconciliation will be an absolute necessity.
Gedi wants some backup, and he will likely receive it. Besides the Ethiopian troops that helped him recapture Somalia from the Islamists, Gedi has requested troops from the African Union. Uganda has responded with a pledge of 1,000 troops, and more may come from other neighbors of Somalia tired of its chaos.
The Islamists can expect no peace, however. The Ethiopian air force scoured the coast for Islamists attempting to reach the harbors of Kenya, specifically Ras Kamboni, where they have a center of operations. The collapse of their hold in Somalia has punctured the myth of invincibility of these supposed holy warriors and exposed as lies their pledges to fight to the death to hold the ummah. Now that they have shown their true colors, the armies of Kenya and Ethiopia will have little trouble wiping up what’s left of the terrorist and tyrranous Arab and South Asian militias.
Once again, this shows the West how to properly square off against Islamist forces. Only by conducting a true war with massive, overwhelming force will these terrorists be destroyed.

Broncos CB Dies In New Year’s Drive-By

Too often, the world of crime intrudes on the world of sports, and this time it’s even more of a tragedy. Darrent Williams, who hours earlier had a sack and a forced fumble as a cornerback in Denver’s loss to San Francisco, died in a hail of bullets, a victim of a drive-by shooting:

Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in a drive-by shooting early Monday morning in downtown Denver.
Denver Broncos spokesman Jim Saccomano confirmed the fatal shooting and said that police called the Broncos organization at 3 a.m. and told them that Williams had died. …
Williams, 24, was riding in a stretch Hummer limousine on Speer Boulevard near 11th Avenue just after 2 a.m., when the shooting occurred. The shots came from another vehicle and two other people in the limo — a man and a woman — were also hit. Their conditions were not known. …
The limo ran off the road near the intersection and had police tape around it shortly after the shooting. Bullet holes could plainly be seen in several of the limo doors.

What a tragedy. Williams had just completed his second year in the NFL and had a promising career in front of him. Instead, he will be most known for his last moments in life as a victim of violence at the start of the new year.
Our prayers go to the Williams family and to the Broncos organization.
UPDATE: How’s this for bitter irony? Williams wanted to volunteer his time to talk kids out of joining gangs:

Anthony Criss, Williams’ high school football coach in Fort Worth, Texas, spoke with the cornerback often, and as recently as two weeks ago.
“When he was younger, he always gravitated to the wrong crowd,” Criss said. “I remember he went to church and the minister was talking to him about needing to pray and stop hanging around with the wrong people, and he started straightening up and doing the right thing.”
Williams matured at Oklahoma State, turning his eye toward pro football, Criss said.
“I visited him his junior year, and he was grown,” Criss said. “Everything was, `Yes, sir. No, sir.'”
In December, Williams spoke of returning to his hometown this offseason to talk to youngsters about staying out of gangs. Williams, who has two young children in the Fort Worth area, recently talked to Criss about establishing a free football camp for youth players.

What a tragedy — and how pointless it all is.

Too Far?

The London Telegraph reports on a new series of requirements for travelers from Europe to the US which appear to push the boundaries of privacy further than ever. An agreement with Brussels will now require all European carriers to make passenger credit accounts and other information available to American security officials before the passengers can get clearance to enter the US:

Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal struck by Brussels and Washington.
By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having other transactions on the card inspected by the American authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.
The extent of the demands were disclosed in “undertakings” given by the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of Information request.
About four million Britons travel to America each year and the released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more data than previously realised.

This information would not get limited to homeland-security investigations. The agreement with Brussels allows the US to use the information for other “serious crimes”. It does not appear that the US has committed to reciprocity, either; we only agreed to “encourage” American carriers flying to Europe to give the EU the same kind of access.
I don’t know about you, but this seems a little much. I can understand needing the no-show history of a passenger, but the credit-card transactions make less sense. If the government believes that a passenger constitutes a threat, they should bar them from traveling and get the court orders to investigate their credit history. In fact, I’m not sure what purpose this serves except to emphasize the need for terrorists to use cash, a habit they already have. Only an idiot would leave a paper trail through credit cards while attempting a crimial conspiracy.
Let’s talk about reciprocity. Would you like to give over all the transactions for your credit card to, say, France as a requirement of traveling to Paris? I’m not sure what use they would make of the record, but I’d be less than thrilled — especially since it appears to have no real value in terms of securing either side of the pond against terrorists. It sounds like something from an old wish list that got dusted off after 9/11.
The NSA surveillance program makes more sense than this. In that case, the NSA needed the flexibility to listen to conversations from already-suspected international numbers without having to wait for a court order, a wait that would mean missing potentially critical information in telephone calls during the interim. In this case, we should have hours or days to run a check on a much smaller pool of targets, and the data they seek would likely have no bearing on an attack. This seems like one imposition that is ill-considered — and should be reconsidered.