Friday, September 16, 2011

Homeland security perimeter

Listening in on Border Security Challenges After 9/11: A Conversation With Three Commissioners of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Sept 9, 2011

On Sept. 10, 2001, Robert Bonner tells us, he began his job as head of what is now the US Customs and Border Protection. The next day, in reaction to 9/11 events, he raised the border security alert to Level One, resulting in border wait times from Canada increasing from an average of 10 minutes to over 12 hours. It was at this point he realized security considerations would have to be addressed without "effectively shutting down our [US] country's economy ... These two pillars are not mutually exclusive."

Expanded X-ray and radiation technology on the borders and "advance electronic data" and vetting incoming travellers in foreign airports were put in place to expand the security envelope beyond the US borders.

 "And this is an important point," he said. "We were able to do this without congressional mandates."
Also at the roundtable was former commissioner Ralph Basham, who described the US/Mexico security fence as the "dumbest idea" he had ever heard of : "We all knew this wasn't the answer".
And current CBP Commissioner Alan Bersin :
"What will become more and more a feature of our homeland security efforts is partnership at a new level with the private sector. We cannot actually accomplish this goal without being in partnership with the private sector, given their involvement in the private supply chain and travel network ....  From day one we brought the private sector into the discussion and rather than designing and then mandating an approach to security, we actually co-created it in the case of the express carriers.....
In this way we will overcome the dichotomy within this decade and we have always realized it as a dichotomy - those of us inside CBP have realized it but I think we need to make this much more a staple knowledge on the part of the American people - which is that trade and security are not mutually exclusive. Not only are they not mutually exclusive, let alone antithetical to one another, but we at CBP increasingly believe that they are the same process, that in fact we cannot increase our security profile unless we expedite the 99.5% of trade and travel that is legitimate." 
And if 'we' don't, added Basham, the terrorists will have won.
"Without congressional mandate" and dependence on the private sector from day one should remind you of the SPP : Security and Prosperity Partnership, whose various proponents advised on its deathbed that it could only be resuscitated in increments.
Steve of course continued to deny for months that any such new combined security perimeter border action plan even existed, while simultaneously consulting on it with lobby groups and the private sector since last fall.

Interesting that all three CBP commissioners repeatedly emphasized the importance of keeping the borders nice and thin for their supply lines, isn't it?
I thought that was supposed to be our worry, not theirs - something the Americans just don't get - and thus the reason why we have to give them whatever they want so trucks will keep running back and forth between Windsor and Detroit.
So much for the "prosperity" part - on to "security" :
Yesterday ...
Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the Northern Border Summit 
... 9/11 ...  unprecedented threats... yada yada
"Because of the promising new “Beyond our Border” initiative that President Obama and Prime Minister Harper proposed earlier this year, our law enforcement efforts have never been more closely aligned ...
The creation of “NextGen” teams of cross-designated officers would allow us to more effectively identify, assess, and interdict persons and organizations involved in transnational crime ..."
Ok, here we go, italics mine :
"Despite the excellent relationship we’ve established, I believe that there are areas in which the U.S. and Canada can enhance cooperation in criminal investigations and prosecutions. And I believe we must consider how extradition, and mutual legal assistance processes could be streamlined to avoid delays; and whether certain sentencing laws – and information sharing policies and practices – should be updated.
As Canada’s national government considers various anti-crime policies and approaches, we will continue working to implement a comprehensive anti-crime framework that respects the sovereignty of both our nations."
Certain sentencing laws?
Well we knew about the push for information sharing but "sentencing laws" ? For what crimes?
Is this why Steve has been pushing for "spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers dollars on prison building, in order to impose a mandatory minimum term of six months in jail for anyone who grows more than six marijuana plants" ?

Holder winds it up :
"Since December, senior representatives from DOJ, DHS, Public Safety Canada and Justice Canada have been meeting regularly ... and progress has been made in developing a pilot project that we hope to launch next year."
Operation Spliff? Operation Doobie?



Jim Parrett said...

Yes, it's pot growers that Harper's after. They would be big business for private prisons.

Anonymous said...

We don't hear much about the US wanting a thinner border too which is odd given we are its largest trading partner. Mind you Harper isn't likely to call their bluff on it. cough softwood lumber cough.

Alison said...

Anon : Yes I thought so. Of course this is public servants talking, not politicians, and it still means their idea of thinning the border is having us cough up more personal info.

Jymn : Just Holder mentioning sentencing laws isn't conclusive but it would explain the prisons/pot thing. Unbelievable if Steve is thinking of trading off people who grow a bit of dope.

Shit. Just noticed I knocked the end off my post ... fixing

Anonymous said...

If you really want proof of "harmonizing" between US and Canada, have a look at this recent announcement that NO ONE in any media covered to the best of my knowledge, despite a press release being issued.

August 3, 2011
TORONTO – The American Bar Association and the Canadian Bar Association are preparing to sign a historic agreement that will lead to enhanced cooperation and information exchanges between the two organizations, their in-house counsel constituencies, and the U.S. and Canadian legal professions. ....

It's interesting to note how quietly this has been "announced", although one can be sure there will have been lots of actions taken before any "public announcement". I have specific examples of harmful "harmonization" of laws that are already underway, if anyone's interested.

Beware Canada -- the quieter the media is on an issue, the more important it is. Not in a good way, either.

Blog Archive