Paging Ari Fleischer (II) - Macleans.ca

Paging Ari Fleischer (II)

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Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano tells the CBC’s Neil Macdonald about the 9/11 terrorists who entered the United States through Canada.

Relevant passage after the jump. Relevant Inkless Wells archival footage here.

NM: I’m going to quote you here. A couple of weeks ago, you said that, you cited a feeling in the United States that if things — this is a quote — “are being done on the Mexican border, they should also be done on the Canadian border. We shouldn’t go light on one border and not on the other.”

You know 6,000 civilians were killed in drug violence in Mexico last year. They export kidnappings. I think we can all agree that’s not happening in Saskatchewan. Why the need for same level of security on the Canadian border as on the Mexican border given two drastically different realities?

JN: Look, the comment you read of course was taken out of context. The law doesn’t differentiate. The law says the borders are the borders and these are the kind of things that have to be done at the borders.

Secondly, yes, Canada is not Mexico, it doesn’t have a drug war going on, it didn’t have 6,000 homicides that were drug-related last year. Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.

NM: Are you talking about the 9/11 perpetrators?

JN: Not just those but others as well. So again, every country is entitled to have a border. It’s part of sovereignty. It’s part of knowing who’s in the country.

We have very dissimilar visa requirements. We want to work with Canada. Canada is such a close friend and ally and good friends with the United States. But I think we’ve all agreed that it makes sense to have a real border structure there. And again the law in the United States does not differentiate between the Mexican border and the Canadian border, so from my standpoint as the implementer of the law, that’s what I’m dealing with.

NM: You know you mention terrorism, and there have been a lot of prominent American officials, including Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton when she was a senator and a number of other congressmen and senators, that have said that there has to be tighter security because a lot of the 9/11 perpetrators came in through Canada.

The fact, of course, is that they didn’t. They all came directly into the States, sometimes with U.S. visas. Senator [Charles] Schumer cited terrorists crossing at Buffalo, and then had to concede that that hadn’t happened. I think there’s kind of a popular misconception in this country that Canadians have been battling for a long time that we’re somehow a nest of terrorism. But in reality it’s not the case. And why is that view so common here?

JN: Well again, and I’m not privileged to say everything that has occurred. I mean, some things have occurred in the past. I can’t talk to that. I can talk about the future. And here’s the future. The future is we have borders. The borders are going to be enabled with greater technology, but it’s not going to be going back and forth as if there’s no border anymore.

I think that the United States Congress years ago said, You know what? We have borders both north and south, and we have to have some standards and implement them at the border, so we’re not going to, we’re no longer going to have this fiction that there’s no longer a border between Canada and the United States.

That is very different, however, from not having a workable border, and that’s where my goal is. We’re going to have a working border where families can go back and forth, a hockey team that has a game that has to be on one side of the border or the other, that we facilitate that. That we use technology to make those lines move more quickly, and fast lanes and sentry lanes and all the other kinds of things that you can set up. To me that’s really the future that we are building.