I was on vacation in Europe recently when I experienced first-hand the extent to which the U.S. government will go to follow and track its citizens. It has made me very grateful that I hold dual citizenship and have a second passport.
This is what happened.
After relaxing along the Adriatic Sea in Dubrovnik for a week, my family and I decided to take a day trip to the Bay of Kotor in neighboring Montenegro. Feeling rather lazy, we opted for a group tour rather than driving south ourselves.
In less than 45 minutes our coach rolled into the large, rather militaristic border crossing between Croatia and Montenegro. Our guide announced that the border patrol officers often waive the tour buses straight through, but that didn’t happen.
Instead, our bus was boarded by two serious looking officers who requested we present our passports. As they passed the first few rows, I noticed they were collecting select passports and it caught my attention. The seemingly random collection continued for the next few rows … then I realized the officers were selecting a particular passport.That’s when I got worried…
As the officer approached my seat near the back of the bus, I caught a glimpse of the navy blue covered passports in the officer’s hand. On a tour bus was filled with a mix of German, French, UK, Japanese, and American tourists — they were collecting U.S. passports only.
When they got to our row, my husband presented our Irish passports and we received a head nod from the passing officer. We didn’t even have to open them. We then watched as the officers disembarked with U.S. passports and then returned about eight to 10 minutes later to give them back.
Less than five miles later, the same event played out when we reached the border control check point for Montenegro. As an American with dual citizenship, I was uncomfortable watching the U.S. passengers being singled out and having their documents collected while the rest were barely checked.
In this case, thankfully, there were no sinister motives at work as far as I could tell. Once the passports were returned, the bus pulled back on to the roadway.
I asked our tour guide why only the U.S. passports were collected when the officers barely looked at the rest. She didn’t have an answer. Nor did a few other people I asked when we returned to Dubrovnik later that night. But, I have a hunch.
The U.S. Government is Tracking Your Every Move
I doubt that Croatia cares much about the handful of Americans that come to vacation there. Croatia is part of the E.U. and it is simple to cross between EU countries, especially if you have a passport from one of the 28 nations. And, while Montenegro is not in the EU, I doubt they care much either.
But, clearly, the border officers had instructions from someone … or somewhere.
My hunch is that the foreign countries aren’t interested in us, but our own government is. They want to know where we’ve been and how long we’ve stayed. Scanning the passport creates an electronic record of departure and entry. It is why the EU passports were skipped. The U.S. may not be able to see the scan taken in Croatia directly, but Interpol can. And the U.S. has access to that database.
Nearly a decade ago, before I had dual citizenship, I recall coming back to the U.S. after a week-long business trip to Europe. The immigration officer at JFK airport scanned my passport and promptly asked why I traveled so much. I looked at him rather blankly because I wondered why he cared and how he knew. Before I could answer, he rattled off the countries I had just visited as well as the destinations of my last three business trips.
Now with the revelations that the NSA — and probably eight other unnamed agencies wrapped in the Deep State blanket that is modern America — are watching, listening and tracking our activity, our passport information is just another line of data next to our names. We should be very concerned.
The U.S. Has Fallen Out of Favor
We have become a militaristic nation. Our troops are stationed all over the planet. We represent 37 percent of global spending on military, nearly four times the next country on the list — China.
Our greatest glories have come from winning a couple of wars; and our greatest humiliations from losing a few. We’ve spent a lifetime invading or bombing countries in Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Middle East, and southeastern Europe.These actions have left angry masses in the wake. Now the American government lives in fear of retaliation from aboard and they fear financial exodus at home.
Thus the government needs to track us to be sure we are still loyal patriots and not disguised bad guys. And, they track our every financial move because they need to make sure they don’t lose a cent of revenue that they desperately need to fund their debt problem.
They are paranoid and afraid. More and more of our data is needed to make the American government feel safe.
And once they have cast their huge data web, it will be very easy for them to know, predict, and control our every move — all in the name of safety, of course. But not every country has made enemies with the rest of the world.
You hardly, if ever, hear of an external terrorist group targeting Uruguay, Chile, St. Kitts, Finland, or Ireland. These countries, and many others, don’t need to cast a net around the movement of their citizens.
By the end of my vacation, I was even more appreciative of my dual citizenship. While I have little doubt that the American government is aware of my travels regardless of which passport I use, having an Irish passport has given me the benefit of creating a lower profile — and it’s why you need to hold dual citizenship and a second passport if you don’t already.
Editor's note: This article originally published on The Sovereign Investor Daily on August 29, 2014, and has been edited for publication on IVN.