All that is necessary for the survival of the fittest

is an interest in life, good, bad or peculiar--Grace Paley

Juliet Waters

Juliet Waters
Montreal, Canada
August 01
Montreal based writer, book critic, single mom. Currently working on a book about a year learning computer programming. Visit me, or


Editor’s Pick
APRIL 23, 2009 12:50AM

Blame Canada says Janet Napolitano

Rate: 27 Flag

Janet Napolitano

Quick quiz, Americans.  How many 9-11 terrorists entered North America through Canada?  

If you said zero then you know more than your Homeland Security Secretary did earlier this week.

On Monday, in an interview with a Canadian television journalist, Janet Napolitano elaborated on her recent claim that the Canadian and  Mexican borders should be treated equally. Though she admitted that Canada doesn't export  anything like the same level of drugs, or illegal immigrants, "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." 

When asked if she was talking about 9-11 terrorists she replied "not just those but others as well." 

This resulted in something of a diplomatic squabble since it is well known, in Canada at least, that every single terrorist involved in  9-11  entered North America through the U.S. 

Facts are facts, and later that day Napolitano's people issued a statement claiming that she had misunderstood the question and was really talking about the one and only convicted terrorist to have ever entered  the U.S. through Canada, Ahmed Ressam, a.k.a  the would-be "millennium bomber." 

And true enough, Ressam entered the U.S.  in 1999 with a forged French passport. At which point he was immediately apprehened. The Mounties, who had been following his activities for two years, discovered suspicious materials in his Vancouver hotel room, and quickly tipped off U.S. authorities. 

What about all the "others", the justification for millions of dollars to be spent on increased security, and who are more of a priority than easy traffic with  America's largest trading partner?

According to Napolitano these are "suspected extremists" who are known to the U.S. government, but not to the public. (Though at least four of these "suspected extremists" are known to the Canadian public as innocent Canadian citizens who were deported by the U.S.  to middle eastern countries to be tortured by proxy.)

Lacking any actual terrorists she could name, save one, Napolitano fell back on the second favorite U.S Homeland Security myth: tougher borders are needed because, "the fact of the matter is that Canada allows people into its country that we do not allow into ours." 

Canada's immigration minister, Jason Kinney immediately challenged that as "absolutely wrong. Ever since 9-11, and before 9-11, Canada has co-operated with the United States on issues of continental security, including as it relates to immigration."

And try telling Canadian immigrants that it's easier to get into Canada than the U.S. 

Says one Toronto Member of Parliament: "I have a heavily immigrant riding, and I do visas all day every day, and one of the most difficult things I have to explain to my constituents is why is it that the United States granted a multiple-entry visa to the relatives but Canada won't."

One last quiz.  Since becoming Secretary of Homeland Security three months ago, how many times has Napolitano been to Canada's dangerous, porous border? 

If you guessed zero, you're right again!


wordpress counter drupal hit counter

Your tags:


Enter the amount, and click "Tip" to submit!
Recipient's email address:
Personal message (optional):

Your email address:


Type your comment below:
Does even a single person in this country feel safer because of the Department of Homeland Security?

I think the bloom was off the rose for me when Tom Ridge went on TV and told us to cover our windows with plastic and duct tape. Oye.
That's some nastty herringbone jacket, too...I think Lithuania is choosing her wardrobe for a nefarious purpose...
Actually i think that jacket is a cloak of invisibility in case you ever go into a Levitz furniture store circa 1975.
Yeah that's not the kind of jacket that gets you a cameo appearance on 24.
i KNEW we needed a Maginot Line style border defense against you Canadians and your free-wheeling, we'll-accept-anyone immigration policy:-P
Growing up in Buffalo, I always found it easier to get into Canada than coming back over through Customs. Just sayin...

But I seriously didn't know that about the 9/11 terrorists. Yeah, I'm one who thought they all came in through Canada or something. God, I hate being so misinformed like that! Thanks for this post.
Lainey, it was the same for Canadians getting into Canada before free trade. My family had a country place in Maine. We would always whiz through U.S. customs no problem. But getting back into Canada we always had to prove that we weren't smuggling in stuff we'd bought. That has nothing to do with immigration policy.
She IS confused. Either the Golden Gate Bridge bomber or the big HOLLYWOOD sign bomber (who did manage to get himself caught) was from Canada/Canadian. And when they tortured him he fingered Larry the Loon. And so now all of you get to suffer. Just hand over Larry the Loon to us and all will be forgiven.

We'll take your four "terrorists" if you''l take ours -- Cheney, Bush, Rumfeld, Rove, Libby, Addington, Bybee, Yoo, et all -- and no fair sending 'em back, we won't take 'em back.
"Amerka" is cutting off its nose to spite its face...
I have crossed Canada's dangerous, porous border many times. And each time, I have returned unscathed! (By the way, I love Montreal. I have many friends there. My favorite experience was visiting the Osler library at McGill. The librarian gave me my own personal tour and took me "backstage" to see the original papers of Harvey Cushing. These papers led to Cushing's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Sir William Osler -- the most wonderful biography I have ever read. Sorry about the long digression).

Excellent post! Yes, I tend to be more frightened by what happens south of said border.
Excellent Post. I am a big fan of Canuckistan. I find the Canuckistanis to be incredbly gracious and laid back. Couldn't ask for better border sharing neighbors, as far as I am concerned.

I just wish your dollar would tank so it would allow for cheap skiing in Quebec next year. I miss going to Mt. Ste. Anne.

Very good post.
Dammit, Juliet, I had started a post with almost EXACTLY the same wording. This made me extremely angry when I read it. She's obviously an uninformed incompetent.

(Unhappily, she's not alone. Hillary Clinton once famously said the same thing, if I remember correctly, as junior senator from New York and immediately blamed Ontario Hydro for causing the massive 2003 blackout).
Thanks for writing this! Gotta stop the blame game, everywhere. So sad that she's in a position of leadership, and willing to speak with out thought. You keep 'em honest! Great post.
Sounds like Napolitano is taking a cue from "South Park."
this women scares me more then any terrorist out there
If she were any more ignorant she would be Maxine Waters.
Whoops, reread my comment and want to clarify that the original story is what made me furious -- not you raiding my subconscious.
Oh, I think she knows exactly what she’s talking about. She can’t speak of it in public, but there’s an insidious ring of international terrorists who use Canada as a staging ground for entry to the holy grail of targets, the U.S. Their favorite point-of-entry? Niagara Falls. Their technology? Barrels.
Janet Napolitano is a political appointment by Obama, she is an embarrassment, she is awful, she is uneducated. She may be run out of office soon anyway by her stupid recent homeland security report. Unfortunately, someone equally as atrocious will probably be put in. Here's wishing we could export her to Canada! Rated.
Another great post, Juliet and congrats on the cover!

GWool, our dollar tanked in September. We're back to being "Mexicans in sweaters" again.
Nana, Well at least you know now how well protected you are by your HSS who has obviously put so much energy into her job, which you might think would involve developing a good working relationship with your neighbors instead of thoroughly offending them.

CCC, I nothing about the Larry the Loon. Nothing I tell you. Nothing. No please don't extradite me to Hollywood and put me in a room with Kiefer Sutherland! No I won't go. I have rights!!!!!

Tom, Jlee. Ha! Nice try.

Brian B. I don't know what her strategy is right now, beyond trying to look really, really hard ass in what appears to be a mix of pink and orange.

JK Brady. Agreed. God forbid your job might entail saying something diplomatic and actually reassuring to Americans like we're working really hard with Canada making sure that our intelligence and immigration policies are alligned. Instead of now that I've been on the job 90 days I can tell you Canada is letting scary people into our country all the time that you don't know about.

About jacket. Maybe we should cut her some slack. It's hard to mix bulletproof with fashion.

Steve, I am so happy you've returned safely. I've spent a lot of time at the Osler, and it's crawling with terrorists who haven't figured out that the Cuban embassy across the street was sold and made into condos a few years ago.

Gwool. I wish our dollar would tank too. I used to love getting an extra thirty percent on my freelance cheques from the states. Now it's just like working for any other struggling domestic media empire. Ah well those were the days.

B1. Great minds think alike. Yeah I was all set to go to bed last night and then I saw this on the news. And they say never go to bed angry. And I figured that I would only feel better by hearing from a lot of smart Americans who know better. And I do.

Shae, Stellaa. I know, I know. I just hate it when women politicians especially do this "I have to be as hard ass as any ignorant republican HSS." And truth is, if she did the right thing, she probably would be accused of being soft on terrorists. It's a double bind, in houndstooth clothing.
Who knew Portland, Maine was in Canada? No wonder you're a Sea Dogs fan. Rated.
Hahaha. You don't frighten us, Scary Northern Neighbors. Go and boil your bottoms. The ghosts of terroristes Richard, Beliveau and Lafleur are dead and gone -- the Habs of Kovalev, Koivu, Plekanec, Kostisyn (real Canadiens, non?) broomed by the Broons. Hahaha.

But you, Juliet, are smart (especially for a northern neighbor) to hedge your bets with some real dineros. That Josh Reddick's start has been something, eh?

You know, if you have to take a basic test about the rules of the road to get a drivers license, shouldn't you take a basic test about current events before you become a head of a department like US Homeland Security?

But I'm just an evil Canadian. According to Janet, I probably hid terrorists in my basement, right alongside my cases of Molson Canadian and the freezer full of back bacon.

(And I won't hold back about that jacket. My parents had a couch in that same pattern. Back in 1970. Cat, your comment was hilarious!)

Rated, eh.
Napolitano's quickly proven herself to be completely unprepared and unqualified for this job, and an embarrassment, to boot.

I feel for you, Canada, as a psychic cousin of yours. I'm sorry your proud nation and its' people are subjected to the stupidity of my people.
The only terrorists I know of that come from Cananda to the US on a regular basis are the Montreal Canadiens. Thankfully, the Bruins took care of that threat last night. ;-) LOL

Nice post. Please don't judge us by our politicians, who in the past several years, have worked hard to corner the market on stupidity.
I will try and answer other comments later. But I must now make an official statement on behalf of the Montreal Canadiens. Losing to the Bruins in four games straight was not how we intended to celebrate the team's centennial year. But don't think we're not on to your sad plan, Napolitano, to boost the Coyote's fortunes.

First Gretzky, now this tightening up the border plan. Give it up, Janet. Hockey is not going to happen in Phoenix. Just send Gretzky back, and we'll let the whole incident pass.
"And I figured that I would only feel better by hearing from a lot of smart Americans who know better."

Yes. The handful of Soviet Canuckistanis here on OS are very fortunate to have encountered the kind of informed and intelligent people that inhabit the place. I've not encountered it anywhere else on the 'Net.
I can't help but think of South Park The Movie and the song "Blame Canada!" When reality gets confused with cartoons you really have to wonder about your grip.
Oh, you Canadians! Always got your facts in a row like so many beautiful swans! Well, you can just have your correct facts! Down here, we're kind of fond of incorrect facts like - oh, I don't know - Saddam Hussein's possession of WMDs, "Mission Accomplished", Richard Jewell's guilt in the Centennial Park Olympic bombing and living gay is a choice! Now, you can add Miss Arizona's factual faux pas to the list. Well, if you want to hold all that against us, go ahead. It ain't gettin' you the Expos back, though!

Perhaps we're supposed to overlook her appalling ignorance in light of the fact that she knows where the U.S.-Canada border lies (unlike most Americans). Or perhaps we're supposed to be impressed by her egalitarian mis-trust of our neighbors to the south AND the north. Wow. Yeah. (Sigh)
I just watched Rex Murphy's commentary about this. He had a very good point, that as offensive and ignorant as Napolitano's comments about Canada were, the thing that should really worry Americans is that the Secretary of Homeland Defense displayed such ignorance of 9/11 - showing that she believed myths about the biggest domestic security event in modern history, about who murdered almost 3,000 Americans and where they came from and how they entered the U.S.
There seems to be great pressure to "do something" about the US-Mexico border, and legitimately so, I think. Building a huge wall is a bit much, but there are clearly significant violent crime, smuggling, and immigration problems. However, there also seems to be a need by the government to not mention "Mexico" by name when talking about border security, so they just talk about "securing our borders" in general.

It seems to me that there is a fear of being labelled racist if they talk about beefing up the Mexican border if they don't also take identical steps at the Canadian border. That's just my theory - does this seem accurate to Americans?

As Rex Murphy said, this is the policy where "if a lightbulb goes out in the kitchen, replace the one in the garage too."
I like wkrsz's observation: "shouldn't you take a basic test about current events before you become a head of a department like US Homeland Security?. Uh, yes, or an interview to make sure you have enough knowledge to fill the shoes of the position.

And donOntario, I missed seeing the Rex Murphy commentary on this (he always looks like a crazed madman to me), but he had an excellent point re: the real concern should be her appalling ignorance of the greatest domestic security event in modern history. Excellent point.

As to my American friends here, if you truly cared about your northern neighbours, you would not dare suggest exporting your domestic terrorists such as cheney, rumsfeld, rove, and coulter. In fact, I don't think we should even give them visas!
I dunno about that theory, Don. I've crossed both borders and believe me the U.S/Mexico border is already plenty beefed up compared to U.S/Canada. There's no comparison. And there's not that much pressure. Because it's just a fact that the major difference between the two borders is the sheer number of people that cross the U.S./Mexico border. That's not a racial thing.

So here are my theories. I hate to say this, but this is a typical case of a woman in a powerful position giving in to the pressure to act and sound even tougher than her male counterpart. She thinks that she can act tough on Canadians without any consequences because, believe me, if she's this ignorant about our immigration policies, then she's at least this ignorant about our economic importance to the U.S. She was given this job because as governor of Arizona, she was probably more conversant that most about problems with the most difficult border. She's barely even thought about Canada until now. Her underlings have given her all kinds of trumped up "watch lists" that have, sadly, been compiled with the help of the RCMP. And she's read them with no skepticism. Remember, Maher Arar (one of the four Canadians who the U.S. deported to Syria) is STILL on an American terrorist watch list. So I can imagine what those watch lists are like.
Hey Juliet, got here late, but this was not wasted on me. Napo is nutzo and of course so is her department, which is way to close to Vaterland Zecurity anyway and hasn't produced a useful lead or done much of anything except to annoy the rest of the world as much as it does us. Thanks for putting a fine point on this enduring embarrassment. Maybe when she gets the boot the whole department can be dismissed as well. Hey, I can hope!
Mexicans in sweaters. Good one, emma. The whole DHS thing is the biggest bureaucratic boondoggle to be foisted on the American public in my lifetime. Party of smaller government, my patootie.

Great post, Juliet.
Wasn't she the governor of Arizona before she became the Secretary of DHS? I really don't think we need say more...
Coogan, what is happening with these Arizona politicians? Apparently today John McCain was interviews on Fox, and when he was asked about Napolitano's gaffe he said: "Well, some of the 9/11 hijackers did come through Canada, as you know."

Canada has now officially rolled its eyes in disbelief.
There are a few things I just don't understand about this issue, Juliet. Simple things. But things no one seems to be addressing.

Could you please help me?

First, some premises (please tell me where I falter): Canada has its own strong incentives to screen those entering its territory. The Air India downing for one thing left a bitter taste, and that was many years ago. And then there's Canada's acceptance of what, 3-4 times as many immigrants per capita as the U.S. accepts?

Other premises: Canada's incentives to screen out undesirables seem to be holding the RCMP's and the SQ's attention quite well. As in the U.S., some plots have been stopped mid-course. The RCMP/SQ/CSIS are doing their jobs, and readily cooperating with the U.S., as they've done since Sept 11 (if still a little trigger-happy with the tasers ... ahem).

More premises: The only land border Canada has is with the U.S., unless you count St. Pierre and Miquelon, which, as Americans know, are teeming with French collaborators ready to surrender to anyone who asks them to.

But they're just tiny islands. They could be Shock-&-Awed some morning before the croissants are even out of the ovens.

Canada has nothing like the cross-border chaos the U.S. has to deal with. The U.S. has a very porous southern border and huge impoverished populations below it all the way to Tierra del Fuego. Millions and millions of flaming Che-style knockoff radicals, all of whom want to head north to get their manos on iPods and Hummers and insipid cable TV fare.

Moreover, the standards of living in Canada and the U.S. are virtually the same. In fact, Canada's life expectancy is longer than the American, mainly because Canadian border patrols have let in almost no poisonous snakes.

Some argue that Canada, which has yet to have a bank bailout, is more financially solid. Economists, who are always wrong, insist that Canada has the strongest banking system of the G7. It had no sub-prime mortgage crisis, they say. Job prospects aren't good in either country, but Canada's are somewhat better.

So sane Canadians would rather be in Canada. Except maybe in February, when they can go to Cuba for a song and never have to eat even once in an Olive Garden.

In other words, the U.S. has no osmotic immigration pressure from the north as it has in the south. Right?

Another premise: I recall seeing somewhere that Canada took something like 9,800 Mexican immigrants last year, and they were almost all legal. That's because — I'm guessing here — it's tougher for Mexicans to get to and into Canada. They find the walk to Canada more tedious than just wading across the Rio Grande. Canada is nippier, too, and some Mexicans don't have jackets.

Compare that influx to the case of the U.S., which is receiving something like (if memory serves) 120,000 legal and illegal Mexicans per MONTH.

OK, enough groundwork. HERE'S THE PART I DON'T UNDERSTAND:

Why does Homeland Security maintain that border crossings into the U.S. are CANADA's problem?

Canada doesn't stop people when they're leaving Canada in order to interrogate them to determine their fitness to cross into the U.S. (The U.S. doesn't do that in the opposite direction either.)

So why is the issue even raised? If it's not the responsibility of the U.S. to control entry into the U.S., whose would it be?

Why don't Canadians just say No?

Second, shouldn't Canada be raising hell with the U.S. about their lax control of Mexican immigration, which eventually will put pressure on Canada's border? Shouldn't Canada be threatening to build a wall and do cavity searches on all Americans?

Or is the actual approach to the issue in the U.S. a little less ... deliberate? We know that each time there's a new U.S. Administration, all the people jockeying for jobs in the cabinet play a game akin to musical chairs. The Secretary of State gets to sit down first, then the Secretary of War ("Defense," you say? puhleeeze...) ... and so on.

Am I off base to conclude that the person left standing is, by default, the least suitable for a cabinet post, perhaps because of chronic personality disorders or paranoid psychoses or early toilet-training trauma?

And that that's the person who gets to head up Homeland Security?

Please help me out here, Juliet. I MUST be overlooking something. I fear my reasoning errs, yet it feels so seamlessly logical, and U.S. behavior seems so ... un-Christian....
I don't have much of an answer, though I will say that same thought crossed my mind.
What I'm wondering is why Canada has amassed a backlog of over 800,000 would-be immigrants since before 2006? Up 100,000 since last year. Why so much red tape for so long?

It's a good sign that amnesty has been ruled out in your country for illegals, but having such an ongoing backlog gives me pause. (Can't help obsessing about BOTH borders now, Juliet.)