In a surprisingly candid and refreshingly forthright admission to a Calgary conference on Monday, U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson, recognized that the reality of the Canada / USA border has been "radically altered" since 9/11.
A native of Illinois, Ambassador Jacobson's conciliatory approach contrasts somewhat with some of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's occasional pronouncements over border security issues. Ms Napolitano is a former Governor of Arizona, which may explain their divergent views.
Ambassador Jacobson admits that there have been "myriad headaches" at the border, including delays and hassles for passengers and commercial traffic in an effort to improve security south of the border.
Canadians are all too familiar with the "thickening" of the world's longest undefended border since the attacks of September 11, 2011 struck at the very fabric of the American psyche. In the ensuing 9 years, it's been an undeniable tribute to our enduring friendship with the United States that Canadians continue to make almost 26,000,000 visits to the U.S. each year injecting more than $12-Billion into the American economy...to say nothing of the $400-Billion annual trade between our two nations. It is a recognized fact that more trade is conducted each year across just one of the dozens of our border crossings (Detroit's Ambassador Bridge), than between the United States and all of Japan.
Whilst everyone surely agrees with the concept and goals of America's secure border initiatives; some in the United States have begun to question the emergence of what's been described as a "national security enterprise" with a widely classified mission, blurred lines of responsibility, and it's being suggested; a poor record of accountability.
Ambassador Jacobson's speech to the Pacific Northwest Economic Region Conference was delivered on the same day the "Washington Post" unveiled its comprehensive and much anticipated report on: "Top Secret America". In mind numbing details, it reveals the billions of dollars in private, for-profit intelligence operations that have emerged since September 11, 2001. The "Post" says that in all, at least 263 organizations have been created or re-organized as a response to 9/11. The pervasive sense of fear, described by some pundits as verging on paranoia; in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks became a springboard for the Administration and Congress to give agencies..."more money than they were capable of responsibly spending".
Top Secret America, the "Washington Post" claims, includes hundreds of Federal Departments and agencies operating out of 1,271 facilities around the United States. They contract with another 1,951 private companies to work on programs related to counter terrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across America. The editor's of the "Washington Post" claim that: "When it comes to national security, all too often no expense is spared and few questions are asked - with the result an enterprise so massive that nobody in government has a full understanding if it."
Others may wish to argue that Iraq and Afghanistan; a $14-Trillion national debt, and a Congress too frequently paralyzed by divisive partisan issues are tangible evidence of America's wayward efforts to confront security threats at home, and before they reach North American soil.
What seems abundantly clear is that the revelations and concerns raised are matters for our American neighbours and partners to debate and resolve before time and money run out.