U.S. Customs uses border 'hits' to blame Canada

April 27, 2009

27 April 2009

U.S. Customs uses border 'hits' to blame Canada

The following is excerpted from the 25 April 2009 edition of the “Toronto Star”.

Canada. Conduit. Terror.

Three words no Canadian likes to hear in the same sentence. Three words that just keep spilling out of Americans, as they did this week from Janet Napolitano, the Obama administration's homeland security secretary.

When the words leaked from Napolitano's mouth, they at least left room for her foot. In it went, up to the knee, with her inference that the 9/11 bombers came via Canada.

Ouch. And, a day later ouch again, when Napolitano offered a double-edged clarification that a) cleared Canada on 9/11, but b) insisted others – vague, unnamed others – crossed from Canada with terror on their minds. And yesterday, ouch yet again as Senator John McCain, the former Republican presidential candidate, repeated the original falsehood on Fox News.

Are the Americans making up this stuff? Well, no, actually. The latest raw data making the rounds in Washington in fact reinforces the notion of Canada as the weakest, leakiest flank in the stateside obsession to batten down its hatches against terrorism.

According to figures confirmed for the Toronto Star by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, travellers arriving from Canada registered 500 "hits" on the government's integrated terror watch list for the year ending last October. That compares to 150 hits on the U.S.-Mexico border for the same period.

In other words, the flow of people from Canada is more than three times more suspicious than that from Mexico, according to the classified data the U.S. security agencies use to measure the risk of terror.

All of which drives Canadian officials bananas….

… [T]he breakdown of those "500 hits," Canadian sources say, shows the vast majority of the individuals in question are either U.S. citizens or U.S. landed immigrants.

Only a small minority of the 500 are Canadian passport holders….

Where does it all leave Canada? Ticked off. But with a renewed appreciation for the anxieties that drive what former Canadian diplomat Paul Frazer (reviving a Trudeau-era metaphor) calls the "elephant's paranoia."

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, who was in Washington this week, said the American tendency to write off Canadians as wobbly on security is based on "ignorance."

"This is the malign consequence of the benign indifference of Americans toward Canadians," he said.

Canadian Economy & Politics
Information Source: 
Canadian News Channel
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