US wants more access to air data

The United States needs broader access to information from Europe on passengers boarding flights to U.S. destinations, a U.S. government official said. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff wrote in the Tuesday edition of The Washington Post that European privacy concerns have “handcuffed” efforts to put all available resources to use in identifying and stopping terrorist threats.

Chertoff wants counterterrorism officials to have access to the detailed information about passengers routinely collected by airlines and travel agencies when flights are booked.

“If we learned anything from Sept. 11, 2001, it is that we need to be better at connecting the dots of terrorist-related information,” Chertoff wrote in the opinion piece.

Homeland Security officials already screen passenger lists, but Chertoff argued that more information, such as travel itineraries and payment details, could help identify suspected terrorists before they board planes.