Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Longest Unguarded Border

Do the recent arrest of terrorists in Canada mean that the US is also threatened from the North?

Tigerhawk makes the provocative case that Canada, not Mexico presents the most dangerous border to the United States. That's not because Canadians are bad people but because historical conditions have encouraged the establishment of questionable and militant expatriate communities there. He quotes Stratfor as saying:

Refugees who have sought and received sanctuary in Canada have included members of ethnic militant groups, such as Algeria's Armed Islamic Group, various Palestinian factions (including Hamas), Hezbollah, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Babbar Khalsa, a Sikh group. Many of these groups use Canada as a place of refuge, and most use it as a base for fundraising and political activity. However, some of those granted asylum have gone on to commit terrorist attacks.

Nor have these expatriate groups been idle, engaging in deeds ranging from blowing up an Air India flight to staging abortive plots to blow up the NY subway system and of course, the "millennium bomb plot". Not many Mexicans can be accused of as much. So is the north the border perilous? The recent arrest of mostly Canadian (and often Canadian-born) suspects in Ontario, with no apparent connection to Afghanistan or Iraq, changes that calculation somewhat. It suggests that a mechanism entirely independent of foreign training camps now exists which is capable of producing Jihadi forces. The difficulty of casting terrorism as a border problem collapses if this mechanism also exists in the United States.

At least some of it does. The Buffalo News notes the participation of Americans in the Canadian plot. And possibly Brits, Bosnians, Danes and Swedes.

Two American Muslims took a Greyhound bus from Georgia to Toronto in March 2005 and discussed possible U.S. targets that included oil refineries and military bases with members of the Toronto group now facing charges of plotting terrorist acts in Canada, according to an FBI affidavit. ... "The guys in Atlanta are strongly tied to the two arrested at the Peace Bridge," the source said. "It was the jumping-off point; it solidified the information the Canadians were receiving." ... A U.S. law enforcement official said investigators were looking for connections between those detained in Canada and suspected Islamic militants held in the United States, Britain, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Denmark and Sweden. FBI agent Michael Scherck, in an affidavit filed in support of Sadequee's arrest, said Ahmed and Sadequee along with the Canadians "also plotted how to disable the Global Positioning System in an effort to disrupt military and commercial communications and traffic."

The elementary question of what this mechanism looks like immediately suggests itself. The classic leftist procedure for producing an "activist" follows the path of propaganda, agitation and commitment. Any process to create Jihadis would probably resemble this method in the essentials. There would be propaganda to intellectually and emotionally attract recruits; then an agitator would come to take the recruits in hand; and finally a process of building commitment in the recruit by assigning him or her gradually more important tasks would finish the process. There must be a definite path to creating Jihadis in Canada and probably an analogous process in the US as well.

The traditions of political and religious freedoms make it nearly impossible to identify actual institutions or objects with each stage of this process. Whether those objects are websites, books, universities, particular classes in those universities, professors, teachers, mosques, imams in those mosques -- it is almost unacceptable to name them in particular as villainous. To say "this mosque", "this course of studies", "this association" is part of the Jihadi assembly line would be to invite a concentrated attack upon oneself. Nevertheless the problem remains.

What's probable and demonstrated by the nearly comical lengths to which the Canadian authorities have gone to deny that any group or institution is suspected more than any other of terrorist leanings, is that things will proceed in a schizophrenic fashion, in a way similar to the Victorian approach to sex, whose existence was practically denied though it was to be found everywhere. It will become a subject akin to syphilis in the 19th century -- approachable only through euphemisms, code words and elliptical expressions. In other words, destined to be treated in an entirely dishonest and manifestly unhealthy way. The most amazing aspect of all is that this obscurantism will proceed from the very towers of Western intellectual enlightenment: the great newspapers, broadcast networks and institutions of higher learning. Darkness palpable streaming from what was once its brightest lights. If so the border that needs to be built cannot extend along a fixed strip of land. It may be that borders themselves are the problem, in the barriers to honesty which allow the Jihad to thrive in the shadow of our own political hypocrisy.


Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

Your last paragraph exemplifies how I so like how you comment on the problems you illuminate. Sometimes you employ obscurantism of your own -- I always hoped it was to set an example as to how to spur talk of the unspeakable in "polite" society. Other times you're dripping with sarcasm (one just this week was very good).

It is in the essence of how patriots must learn to deal with homegrown self-loathers that I've been hoping you'd finally find a good formula. Too much of the difficulties we face in the post-modern world are made harder to deal with by just such adversaries, often closeted, and every bit as dangerous for it. "The barbarian at the gate is all the more honorable ...." and all that.

6/07/2006 06:19:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

From my CIA experience I know that the KGB prepositioned caches of guns,ammo,radios,plastic explosives INSIDE the United States. They accomplished this by cross the Canadian border.
Using Spetsnaz troops most of these were placed in Montana and Washington.
Whether detante (in it's day) produced this info for our FBI and the location of the caches is anyones guess..for sure someone knows they did or didn't mention these caches.
Point being that border is more easily penetrated than our southern one. The mountains,trees and rugged terrain make the going tough. If this information was sold to the bad guys then they have explosives at minimum ..the radios are probably worthless but the guns and ammo will still kill ya too.

6/07/2006 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

A couple of observations.

The "good" news, if there be any, is that "decentralized jihad" is also much more likely to be amateurish. Gruesome as it may be, Western civilization and even the more sensitive economy can survive a few badly made bombs going off. Even if we had London or Madrid style attacks every few months, we would adapt, and even Madrid -- which required coordinated detonations -- may be beyond the abilities of the spontaneous jihadis.

The "international" jihadis that are tied into a formal training program or supported by a state pose a threat of a different magnitude. They may be able to acquire WMD, or deploy conventional weapons to create WMD-like casualties. Either way, the "professionals" pose the really big threat, the kind that could take us down.

So, why should we be concerned about the amateurs? Apart from the costs of low-grade attacks (such as London), the amateur jihadis will provide local cover and support for the professionals. The spontaneous jihadis are there to "plug in" to the more lethal organization. This is all just rank speculation on my part, of course, but that seems to be the serious problem with this guys.

Second, your concern about our unwillingness to contend with this threat is spot on. This is a variant on the broader law enforcement challenge that common law countries (your's, mine, and Canada) face. Our system is designed to (1) punish criminals for crimes already committed, and (2) deter people from becoming criminals. Our rights-based systems are particularly weak at preventing the commission of a crime that is not deterrable (because of the evidentiary and culpability burdens required to prove "conspiracy"), yet this is precisely what they must do in the fight against the jihad. We really need an entirely new paradigm for thinking about internal security, something between "lock 'em up in Gitmo and sort it out later" and strict adherence to our traditional regard for individual rights. Very tough.

6/07/2006 07:53:00 AM  
Blogger bobalharb said...

Muslims to the north of us, Mexicans to the south--we're--back in the middle again. Would seem the threat of immediate violence more serious from the north but the long term threat to society might come from the south. Maybe we should close Both borders?

6/07/2006 07:58:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

The northern border was breached during the cold war by the GRU Spetsnaz Special Forces. The prepositioned caches of ammo,guns,explosives,maps. All the impliments to ruin the Hungry Horse dam in Montana and other priority targets. I learned this while in the CIA in the 1970's.
Heavy forests, mountains and thin population make Montana and Washington perfect places to infiltrate the USA.

6/07/2006 08:28:00 AM  
Blogger Habu_1 said...

I've sent three comments that didn't make the post. Any directions I should follow?

6/07/2006 08:53:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Setting aside the terrorism aspect for a second what's interesting to me about TigerHawk's analysis is that it kind of puts the lie to a lot of conservative commentary about illegal immigration; which is a point I've been yelling at the top of my lungs for several months to no avail particularly in this post to our blog.

Conservatives have been arguing that we must keep our border secure but only mentioning the border with Mexico when it is obvious that Canada is a much bigger problem. (How many jihadis you suppose study spanish in school vs. English?) The Mexican border is already very difficult to cross. As I mentioned in that post I live 15 miles from the border in El Centro, CA in order to take my children to Disneyland I have to pass through 2 border checkpoints on they way there and 1 on the way back. I did mention that the entire trip takes place within the U.S. And don't forget the desert which makes up the entire Mexican border. Quite a few illegals die in that desert each year. Plus enforcement along the Mexican border is already quite substantial contra conservative propaganda. In that post I include a graphic from out local newspaper indicating that there were 43,600 border patrol apprehensions just in the El Centro sector so far this fiscal year. Does this sound like the kind of gauntlet that the success minded jihadi would want to run? No the calls for a border fence have very little to do with national security.

The same is really true for the rest of the conservatives blogospheres arguments against illegal immigration. Economically, as I try and point out, in that post, it's impossible to make a case for the detrimental economic effects of illegal immigration while at the same time supporting free trade. There is no economic distinction between exporting jobs to be done by cheap laborers in Mexico, (You guys probably don't realize how many American farmers farm in Mexico.) and importing cheap laborers to do jobs in the U.S. It's particularly hard to argue the negative economic consequences when the unemployment rate is about the lowest it's been in 40 years and the economy is on fire. No conservative opposition to illegal immigration has nothing to do with economics.

So what's it all about … Alfie?

Greg Marquez

6/07/2006 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger whit said...

According to Jack Hooper, deputy director of operations for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, 20,000 immigrants from the
Afghanistan/Pakistan region have entered Canada and the authorities can only vet a tenth of that number. So in other words, the ideologies and actiivties of 18,000 South Asian immigrants is unknown.

Also unknown is the number of homegrown Islamists.

My guess is that we will see more severe problems in Canada before they move south. But that is only a matter of time.

6/07/2006 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

government in its petulant contrariness has deliberately refused to follow the National government’s rules regulating immigration. As a result, Montreal has become a haven for militant Islamic terrorists.

I remember as a kid reading LIFE magazine in the early 1960’s and seeing photos of a Canadien Bomb disposal expert trying to defuse a separatist bomb in a mail box, only to have it detonate and blow off his fingers. The Montreal separatists continue to be spoilers, and willing to destroy a country rather than temper their own chauvinistic pride.

Seems like there are lessons to be learned from many examples of immigrant groups’ obstinate resistance to assimilate the customs of their host countries.

6/07/2006 09:29:00 AM  
Blogger orlandoslug said...

the problem is individuals, or groups of individuals are gaming/using our system against us...

...there needs to be a mechanism whereby an individual loses his individual rights, if it can be shown that he is a part of a group of individuals seeking to undermine our system...

6/07/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

This new face of war once again invites comparisons to infectious diseases. We need to go after the virus at it’s source in the deepest jungles of the dark continent. We must bolster up the immune response of the host. And we must take care not to leave exposed the cleft in the fertile soil on which such malignant seeds grow.

Easier said than done. I remember this little ditty from the first grade:

I pledge allegiance
To the flag
Of the United States of America
And to the republic
For which it stands
One nation
Under god
With liberty
And justice
For all

If we cannot allow for the utterance of the above pledge in schools, in our ports, in our courts, what hope is there for us? This is not only an oath for the individual to our government, it is an oath for the government to ourselves. They have forsaken us. I am compelled to invest in vigilantism.

6/07/2006 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger HK Vol said...

Clowns to the north of me
Jokers to the south
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.....

6/07/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

It might be a feature instead of a bug (for us)that mexico's internal roads are heavily militarized, with checkpoints at every inter-state boundary.

I rode about 150 miles from villahermosa to coaztacoalcos last month, and passed through 3 checkpoints...If I was an arab terrorist I'd think twice before making my way across mexico.

6/07/2006 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Mad Fiddler said...

Sorry... first lines of my post lost in the ether:

Canadian writer Mark Steyn has repeatedly pointed out how Montreal’s Francophone separatist Provinical government ... has deliberately refused to enforce the National government’s rules regulating immigration.

6/07/2006 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Islamic criminality and deviance is well adapted to thrive within the contradictions and vulnerablities of the Western host society. The entire Christian West has been in a deep Mea Culpa mode since 1964 and has gone from righteous indignation to pathological self doubt and cultural anemia. It is time for the Host to ask some tough questions. Would the West be better off with no Muslims or worse off? Do they add enough to any western society to make them attractive and welcome and sought after? No, even the most ardent multiculturalist would would cough and guff his way to a no. The rules have to be changed and Muslims have to be told no more. Mosques that preach hate and the destruction of their hosts must be shut down and the immams deported or jailed. The vulnerability of Islam is their intolerance to the equality of woman. We must tell them that this will not be tolerated in the West. Civil rights laws need to be expanded to religious organizations or they lose their privlaged status. We need to make it clear to these "guests" that their continued presence is not a right and the welcome subject to withdrawal.

6/07/2006 10:45:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Greg Marquez asserts:
"It's impossible to make a case for the detrimental economic effects of illegal immigration while at the same time supporting free trade."
Thomas Sowell replies:
Intellectuals' ability to think of people in the abstract is a dangerous talent in a world where people differ in all the ways that make them people.

Some free-market advocates argue that the same principle which justifies free international trade in commodities should justify the free movement of people as well. But this ignores the fact that people have consequences that go far beyond the consequences of commodities.
Commodities are used up and vanish. People generate more people, who become a permanent and expanding part of the country's population and electorate.

It is an irreversible process --
Unlike commodities, people in a welfare state have legal claims on other people's tax dollars and expensive services in schools and hospitals, not to mention the high cost of imprisoning many of them who commit crimes.

Immigrants in past centuries came here to become Americans, not to remain foreigners, much less to proclaim the rights of their homelands to reclaim American soil, as some of the Mexican activist groups have done.
Today, immigrant spokesmen promote grievances, not gratitude, much less patriotism. Moreover, many native-born Americans also promote a sense of separatism and grievance and, through "multi-culturalism," strive to keep immigrants foreign and disaffected.

Hispanic activists themselves recognize that many of the immigrants from Mexico -- legal or illegal -- would assimilate into American society in the absence of these activists' efforts to keep them a separate constituency. But these efforts are widespread and unrelenting, a fact that cannot be ignored.
Many of your other assertions are just that: Assertions unproven by fact.
Fact: Virtually all hospitals in South Los Angeles have been economically devastated having to provide free services to illegals.
Fact: Illegals represent 1/3 of California's prison population.
Fact: Having made border crossing in your area more difficult has shifted illegal entry to the east, with Arizona now being the leading state in terms of the flood of illegals.
Fact: People lacking a high-school education constitute a net economic loss as earnings fall short of paying for services consumed.
On average, Hispanic families received four times more welfare per family than white non-Hispanics.
The study estimates that the net cost to the federal government of granting amnesty to some 3.8 million illegal alien households would be around $5,000 per household, for a total federal fiscal cost of $19 billion per year.[61]
Once an illegal immigrant becomes a citizen, he has the right to bring his parents to live in the U.S. The parents, in turn, may become citizens. The long-term cost of government benefits to the parents of 10 million recipients of amnesty could be $30 billion per year or more.
In the long run, the Hagel/Martinez bill, if enacted, would be the largest expansion of the welfare state in 35 years.
Immigration is considered noble. People who critically examine its value or worry about its social effects are subtly considered small-minded, stupid or bigoted The result is selective journalism .
That's what it's all about, Alfredo.
Terror Threat On Southern Border - There Are Already Cases To Prove It

6/08/2006 02:13:00 AM  
Blogger metaphysician2 said...

Me, I tend to figure alot of problems would be solved if all public services required proof of citizenship to receive, particularly any form of welfare.

Immigration is good. Illegal immigration, even if the immigrant has the best of intentions, is bad, because it poisons the process from the getgo with the idea "I don't have to follow the rules."

6/08/2006 05:03:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Massive legal immigration (as in Hagel-Martinez) is not good either, esp when it consists of poorly educated, poorly assimable individuals with multiple claims on the welfare/penal/educational state.

6/08/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Hey Doug:

You're kinda making my point.

(I'm not getting your point Big Dan)

My point is that the arguments that conservatives are making against illegal immigration are so weak that they come off as cover for something else. That something else being opposition to the "Mexicanization of America" as some conservatives have been honest enough to express it. You can kind of get a feel for how that sounds to us Mexican-Americans if you replace Mexican with Jew. Imagine if someone said we oppose the "Jewization of America." Okay yeah well Pat Buchanan probably does say that but I'm talking about normal people.

So, for example, with respect to the tremendous security threat that the Mexican border poses to America you link to an article which identifies two examples of Islamists who were arrested by immigration authorities and were "identified" as having been smuggled into the U.S. from Mexico. This in spite of the fact that one was living in Tacoma, Washington about 100 miles from the Canadian border and about 1000 miles from the Mexican border and the other was living in Dearborn Michigan about 11 miles from the Canadian border and 1700 miles from the Mexican border. (I wonder why these guys like hanging out so close to the Canadian Border, hmmm.) That was it? That's the best you can come up with for the horrible security threat that the Mexican Border poses? 2 guys living on the Canadian Border that INS agents working the Canadian border suspect entered through Mexico?

But hey that's not my point. My point is that if it's really about border security why don't you hear conservatives asking for a fence to be built along the Canadian border with the same vigor (Do I mean vitriol?) they are using to demand it along the Mexican border. Show me that evidence and I'll withdraw the charge that it's not about border security but bigotry.

Second with respect to the economic arguments, when I was in Prof. Sowell's economics classes at UCLA in 1978-79 the one thing I did learn was that truth is not determined by referencing authorities. As much as I love Prof. Sowell (I count Prof. Sowell and Rev. Fred Price as the two most influential people in my life besides my parents.) if his argument doesn't make sense it still doesn't make sense.

My point is not that there is not some net negative short run economic impact from illegal immigration. My point is that you can't reasonably support free trade and then oppose illegal immigration on economic grounds. Illegal immigration is the market working. They come here because market forces draw them. There are also net negative economic impacts from free trade. Just ask any North Carolina furniture worker. When a furniture factory moves to Mexico or China or India that move has a negative impact on the economy. The state looses tax revenues, the unemployed factory workers are forced to go on welfare, they are forced to use emergency rooms as primary care physicians etc.

(So what's your point Big Dan?)

My point is that if the conservative uproar about illegal immigration is really about the economics why isn't there a conservative uproar about the negative economic impact of free trade. Instead what you get is stupidity like the guys at The Corner and Samuelson at the Washington Post arguing that if we ban cheap workers we'll come up with robots to replace them. ( Uh Mr. Samuelson 40 years later tomatoes are still being picked by hand. Uh Derb people don't use machines to harvest lettuce because the size and quality of lettuce are factors which the market has determined are very important and people are better at judging those things.) Wow! Can't you guys see that this is a classical leftist argument? Can't you see that this is in direct opposition to the principles of a free market. Can't you see that there is no difference between that kind of argument and leftists saying we should ban the import of oil into this country because then it will force us to come up with engines that burn water. Hello! Hello! Hello!

So if it's really about economics and not about bigotry show me all the conservative blog posts decrying the negative economic impact of free trade. That's my point.

The same thing can be said for all the conservative arguments about illegal immigration as I try to point out in my post here.

Finally, so it's the Mexicanization of American that conservatives oppose … hmm. From our California county, population about 150,000 85% of Mexican ancestry, there are, I believe, 5 boys, who have died in Iraq. In this county , particularly among Mexican Americans, joining the Marines is consider the height of achievement. What do you think the families of those boys think when they hear conservatives talking about Mexicans like they were subhuman?

That's my point.

Greg Marquez

6/09/2006 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

It is not the Mexicanation of the Nation that is disturbing.
It is that it occurs without debate or legal foundation.

The increase in the influx of peoples from the South has been extrodinary and even I'd venture, extreme.

The sheer volume of the inflow, 12 to 20 million, is the current estimate increases our population by 5 to 7%, in an illegal manner.

If 10 to 12 Million Jews, double the population of Israel were to descend upon Florida, there would be cause for concern.

Until the real costs and benefits of the migration are discerned, the US should enforce the Current law. If that calls for deportations and Border controls that have been postponed or ignored, that should change.

If Congress decides on a method to allow those that entered the US to remain, so be it.

I favor selling the "Green Cards".
The proposed fines of $2,000 USD to become "Legal" are a joke.
The current "coyote" passage fee to enter the US is around $5,000 USD.
Legality could be sold for $20,000 per card, easily.

Decide on how many folks should be "legalized" and auction off the "Cards". Those that qualify will do well here, those that do not, can go back home.

6/09/2006 09:39:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The fines for fraudulent use of a Social Security number is $250,000 USD.

Any undocumented worker that has been employeed using a fake or stolen SS number would be guilty under the Act.
A $250,000 USD fine is to be avoided by how many millions of criminals?

Because the use of the false SS #'s make them criminal. Felons in fact. Should they all be exonorated?
Should there be a General Amnesty for all Federal Crimes?
Or just selected ones?

6/09/2006 09:49:00 AM  

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