Need a Passport? Stand in Line

As if we needed further evidence that the Bush administration is inept --

Since January – and until the rule was suspended two weeks ago – Americans have been required to present a passport when flying within the Western Hemisphere, a rule Congress created as part of its response to the Sept. 11 attacks. ... In the weeks before the rule went into effect, hundreds of thousands of Americans without passports requested them; a backlog that now numbers 2 million started to develop as early as last fall.

The fiasco happened because (as in Iraq, New Orleans, and fill in the blank) the administration didn't anticipate the problem.

Federal officials in Washington acknowledge that they failed to anticipate just how much the post-Sept. 11 travel regulations would fuel demand for passports; did not hire enough workers to handle the increase; and neglected to notice or react to signs early this spring of a burgeoning problem. ...

For nearly two years, federal officials knew the revised rules were coming, along with a crush of applications. And Tuesday, during a packed subcommittee hearing on the passport backlog, senators assailed Maura Harty, assistant secretary of State for consular affairs. ... Acknowledging the department's miscalculation, Harty said that employees had been swamped by "a record-setting demand in a compressed period of time."

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    et al (none / 0) (#1)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Jun 20, 2007 at 11:26:24 AM EST
    It's amazing how lucky I am. For example, I put in for a passport, my old one having expired over two years ago, around the first of March and had the new one in five weeks.

    Guess they know who not to mess with.

    Now, will the Administration be able to fire those who flubed the dub?? Or will doing so trigger an investigation... say... "Travelgate?"

    Nope, that name has already been used 13 years or so ago.. Let's try "Investigate."

    You weren't lucky (none / 0) (#4)
    by Fritz on Wed Jun 20, 2007 at 03:21:47 PM EST
    Like the people that didn't heed the warning to flee Katrina ended up sitting on a bridge, the traveling procrastinators end up standing in a line.  Just another manufactured crisis to exacerbate the situation by the six sigma left.  You & I (in April), got our passports in 6 weeks or less because all they had to do for us was verify that we didn't die since our last issue date.  The application payment bottle neck at Citibank in January appears to have been corrected.  My checks were processed in 2 business days.  My son's application was expedited and arrived back in 2 weeks.  He was born in 1989 so his records were probably easy to verify.   The greatest delays are in the naturalized citizens class, where it should be.  It's too bad that people can't get a passport sooner if they are going on a last minute trip, but tough.  Like Brownie said, if you think you are going to exit your shelter after a storm and expect a government employee with a bottle of water & MRI to greet you, it ain't going to happen.   Like a run on a bank or vaccines, the government should ask people not to apply for a passport if they truly don't need one, wait until the busy travel season ends.  

    didn't anticipate (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jen M on Wed Jun 20, 2007 at 11:52:23 AM EST
    or ignored the people who warned about the consequences

    or simply didn't care...

    8 weeks & counting (none / 0) (#3)
    by Joe Bob on Wed Jun 20, 2007 at 02:54:24 PM EST
    I submittted my application in about the third week of April; it's still being processed. I'm traveling to Canada in the first week of August, so I hope that doesn't prove to be an issue.

    Call me crazy, but it seems like estimating how many people would need passports under the new rules would be a pretty straightforward exercise. Figure out how many people typically travel by air from the US to Canada, Mexico, or the Carribbean in the relevant time period. Subtract the percentage who likely have passports already. Get ready to process the applications for the rest of them.

    I would like to assume that it's taking so long because the State Department staff are meticulously screening passport applicants for likely terrorists. Please don't tell me this is just another cluster$#%& piece of security theater that doesn't actually make us any safer.

    When were you born? (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fritz on Wed Jun 20, 2007 at 03:27:42 PM EST
    If this is your first passport, depending on when you were born, if you are naturalized will cause a delay.  I have mine and I renewed a week before you.  

    "Ihre papieren! (none / 0) (#6)
    by SeeEmDee on Thu Jun 21, 2007 at 09:54:41 AM EST
    Or "Vasha boomaga!" or, "Your papers, please!" said with a feral, supercilious grin and without a smidgen of humility. It's all the same. This doesn't do diddly to stop a determined terrorist. But it serves well to acclimate the citizens for the day when an abomination such as "REAL-ID" becomes a reality. (The Soviet Union had 'internal passports', and you had to have official permission to live in places like Moscow; anyone care to bet that some Repug isn't thinking precisely along such lines, too?)

    It also makes internationally tracking those US citizens who are politically active - and inclined to hold the present regime to account for its' sins - much easier. And the US is sharing its' databases of potential 'troublemakers' with other countries. Some of whom have historically had a  less-than-stellar record on human rights. I leave the reader to contemplate the possible results of such 'sharing'; the account of what happened to Canadian Maher Arar is a good example of what could just as easily happen to an American citizen the Administration doesn't like. Who can say that it hasn't happened already?