Cultural Revolutions

Foiling a Terrorist Plot

U.S. Intelligence claims to have foiled an Al Qaeda plot to explode a radioactive “dirty bomb” in an American city.  Abdullah al-Muhajir, a 31-year-old American-born U.S. citizen of Latin American origin, made the mistake of traveling to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport from Pakistan after concluding his terrorist training.  Had he taken the trouble to travel through Canada instead, he would likely be at large, unknown and undetected, rather than in military custody aboard a Navy vessel in Charleston, South Carolina.

The longest demilitarized international border in the world, that between the United States and Canada, is also the most porous.  There are only 1,773 Customs agents and 300 Border Patrol officers for 4,000 miles.  Even assuming that one third of the latter are on duty at all times, each agent would have to “protect” 40 miles of the border.  In practice, that means America’s huge northern frontier is wide open, undefended, and unsupervised.  Over one half of the official border crossings—62 of the 113 points of entry—are not operated around the clock; during the summer months, thousands of campers and boatmen cross without any control whatsoever.

That would be just fine if Canada could be trusted to subject her visitors to a level of scrutiny similar to that finally being introduced in the United States following last...

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