Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Marshals: Some Thoughts

The thorny question of using armed 'Sky Marshals' has been raised again with the news that they could soon be deployed on all transatlantic flights on US airlines. Although shrouded in secrecy it is thought that the undercover agents, who are there to prevent hijackers and terrorists seizing control of the aircraft, have been covertly operating on some flights for a number of years. The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has recently said that the government is willing to consider a request from Washington to put them on all flights in a bid to increase security.

Speaking in Washington on Monday she said "Firstly, with respect to Air Marshals, there are a whole range of ways which, as you can understand, we don't talk about necessarily in public and in detail, where we're already able make sure on an intelligence-led basis that there is the security there should be around flights. That's something that should be, and is, an important part of our relationship and the discussions that we have on a daily basis." That's cleared that up, then.

The issue has been raised by a 10-page memorandum of understanding sent by the American security administration to all EU capitals which, if accepted, would see a large increase in the number of armed guards on planes. Although the UK has allowed them on some flights, other EU countries have refused point blank.

America may also stiffen security in other ways, such a requiring all incoming passengers to provide detailed information before purchasing a ticket. The Eu may follow suit. Today it is unveiling proposals for non-EU passengers to register their finger prints when entering the European Union. All of which, if adopted, probably boils down to yet more aggravation for travellers.

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