Obama Administration’s Anti-Travel Policies Hit New Low

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new passport requirements implemented at the U.S.-Canada border. As I noted at the time, most Americans–including two former presidents–were unaware of this change in policy, which will increase the travel costs by $500 for the average American family.

Now the Obama administration is imposing new restrictions on civilian aviation, requiring private pilots to reveal detailed personal information about their passengers and to seek government permission to leave the country, a first in American history. Even more frightening is the Department of Homeland Security’s claim that it is free to conduct random, warrantless searches of civilian aircraft. From a concerned pilot:

Complaints to Homeland Security higher ups about these “routine checks” were answered by spokeswoman Kelly Ivahnenko with a statement that said, and I accurately paraphrase, “we maintain we have this power and authority, you can expect we will continue to do it whenever and wherever we wish, and there is no requirement that we justify ourselves or explain our reasons.”

This answer itself is, in my opinion, even more frightening than screaming gun-wielding agents. Having an American bureaucrat maintain that their police organization possesses unlimited discretionary authority should give pause even to the most passive among us, as it is exactly what the Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo) said when anyone complained. Overrides of our Constitutional rights by authorities are supposed to be backed by Supreme Court rulings based on clearly articulated justifications, not on the whim of some unelected bureaucrat.

While the administration is dropping hints that it may support liberalizing trade and travel with Cuba, it is simultaneously ramping up unconstitutional travel restrictions to friendly nations, such as Canada, and it is continuing to follow the wrongheaded “border security” policies enacted by the Bush administration. Opposition from trade partners and the global economic downturn seem to have changed President Obama’s mind on completely renegotiating NAFTA, but the administration still shows no sign of abandoning its disastrous strategy of targeted protectionism and stealthy attacks on our freedom to move.