Den største trusselen mot USA kommer trolig fra de 18 millioner visumfrie turistene som hvert år besøker USA, herunder mange fra Europa. USA frykter at europeiske muslimer skal kunne reise uhindret inn og utføre terror.
Det sier Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff i et intervju med Daily Telegraph. Han kommer til Storbritannia torsdag. Chertoff sier USA vil skjerpe kravene til passasjerinformasjon. Det er ikke en gang et forhandlingstema. USA har rett til å stille de krav det anser for nødvendig. Feks. vil man nå kreve at alle passasjerer må ta fingeravtrykk av alle ti fingre, ikke bare to.
Mr Chertoff insisted that the US required additional information, including email addresses and credit card details, to vet European passengers and rejected «the idea that we’re going to bargain with the European Union over who’s going to come into the United States» under the visa waiver scheme.
«We have an absolute right to get this, in the same way that if someone wants to be a guest in my house I have a right to ask them who they are and get identification.»
Mr Chertoff, a former federal prosecutor, said that one of his biggest worries was that «unknown terrorists» – such as most of the 7/7 bombers, who were British citizens with no criminal record or intelligence traces – could use the visa waiver scheme to enter and attack America.
Britain is among 27 countries that participate in the scheme, which allows visitors to enter the US without a visa for up to 90 days. About 18 million people visit America every year under this programme.
«The fear has always been the so-called ‘clean skin’ – that’s a person whose documents are completely legitimate, are not forged.»
This had led the US to require a significant tightening of the rules for passengers travelling under a visa waiver. Among the new requirements are that all passenger information be transmitted to the US before a plane takes off. Soon, passengers will have to give all 10 fingerprints, rather than just two.
America was «unquestionably safer and more secure» than it was on September 11 2001 but there was a danger of complacency because it had not been attacked for more than five years.
«Where you find some softness is in some elements of the media or in some elements of the intellectual class who convince themselves that this is our fault, or that there’s an easier way to avoid the problem if we can just figure what price we have to pay. That is a plea to the sensibility of exhaustion and history has shown that’s a very damaging and very destructive impulse.»