I've always been under the impression that a valid passport was mandatory for international travel but this weekend I learned I was mistaken.

On board the Boeing 777 that went missing on a flight from Malaysia to China at least two of the passengers were using stolen passports. That was a shock, but then I learned that 40 million travel documents, most of them passports, have been reported stolen since 2002. Interpol Secretary General Ronald Noble said,

Only a handful of countries worldwide are taking care to make sure that person possessing stolen passports are not boarding international flights.

Thankfully the USA uses Interpol data more than any other country to screen for stolen passports. During 2011 the US issued 3,600 'no-board recommendations'. Interpol makes it's data base available to 190 member countries but last year more than 1 billion times passengers boarded international flight without their passports being screened against the Interpol data base.

Hard to believe that nearly thirteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center we have nobody vigorously checking travel documents.

Hard to believe that nearly thirteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center we have nobody vigorously checking travel documents. The 9/11 attack succeeded in part due to forged documents not being detected.

We have no way of knowing if the missing 777 was sabotaged by the persons with the stolen passports alone or if they had help from others on the plane with legitimate passports but it makes one wonder. From what I've read fake passports are mostly used for smuggling laborers and/or prostitutes but shouldn't somebody be monitoring these things. It's bad enough that some whacked out terrorist might decide to take a plane full of passengers but what about those forced into prostitution or slave labor? With 190 nations receiving the Interpol data why are only a handful including the US using it to prevent human rights violations. Are we one of the few countries on the planet who give a damn about human life?

So far no one has come forward to claim responsibility for the disappearance of this plane so it might have just gone down on it's own for some unknown reason. However that doesn't mean it was not a terrorist plot. It only means nobody has claimed the act as their own or the two with stolen passports were the only two involved and didn't live to make a claim.

I think it's about time that all nations begin using Interpol data to screen use of stolen passports. Otherwise what's the use of spending a hundred dollars a few years to renew and American passport?