Border Security Gone Crazy

Written by Harold McNeill on August 14th, 2011. Posted in Editorials


Note

This week the National Post, as well as many other media outlets, is carrying a series of articles and stories related September 11 2001.  While 911 was monumental tragedy in terms of lives lost and families torn apart, the damage done over the past ten years by governments, particularly in the USA who have lead the world, is much greater both in terms of lives lost and families destroyed.  Beyond that, the invasion of privacy by security agencies, including our very own, is unprecedented. 911 was no D Day, VE or VJ Day. It was a criminal act that deserved only to be treated as such. The following editorial touchs on only a few aspects of the changes that have taken place.

Border Security Gone Crazy

While camping and sitting with new friends from Germany and Netherlands along with our long-time friends, Bjorn and Linda Simonsen (Bjorn grew up in Norway during the Second World War), the conversation touched on border security.

The couples from Germany and Netherlands (one a young policeman from Amsterdam) were amazed to have read about the degree of border paranoia that exists between Canada and the United States, two countries that have remained at peace with each other since first being settled, that is, at peace other than one or two little skirmishes in the early years.

In Europe, there is a multi-century history of countries having invaded one another and in the last century, two World Wars that killed tens of millions of military and civilian personnel, destroyed billions of dollars worth of property and many countries were looted of their sacred national treasures.

Today, while these countries have differences of opinion on a variety of topics, they maintain open borders and friendly relations. Many have joined in the European Union. Former communist countries, having gained independence, are now being accepted into the Union. Most borders have no security points and nor do they have border police. Having recently crossed many of those borders, brought into close focus the paranoia that exits between Canada and the United States and between the United States and the rest of the world.

The National Post published a full page story (1) about Homeland Security Border Patrols in Port Angeles, a small community across the Straight of Juan de Fuca and Victoria’s closest American neighbor. Our family has often traveled on the direct ferry that connects our two cities for a day of wandering around or for playing soccer games against our American friends.  It was always a carefree outing to a friendly country.

In recent years, however, it never seems as friendly. The ordinary folks on the street and in the soccer fields are the same, but the degree of security paranoia kills the friendliness.  Not many years ago there were perhaps four Border Security Agents in Port Angeles. The Agents were friendly and welcoming, passports were not required and while one still had to make a few declarations, it was a friendly entry and exit to the home of a good neighbor.

Then one day an idiot attempted to carry some dynamite across that border in the trunk of his car. That is when the proverbial ‘shit hit the fan’.  The American media and politicians went crazy about the lax security existing between Canada and the United States and how every American citizen was in imminent danger from crazies who might try to enter their bastion of ‘freedom’ from the Great White North. A couple of years later, 911 took place and the fate of our friendly, open border was sealed.

Photo: The 5000 mile border between the US and Canada is largely open. If someone was determined to enter the US undetected, it would certaiinly be easy. There would be no need to worry about having a passport checked, yet billions are spend defending border crossings where roads and bridges exist.

While the United States has never had (and still does not have) any real cause for concern in regards to the infiltration of terrorists through any of their borders, an agency, Homeland Security, gained a bureaucratic foothold in the years following 911 and has now become a 750 billion a year growth industry in the United States and around the world.  No better example exists of that exponential growth than what has taken place in small community of Port Angeles.

Whereas four border patrol officers used to look after all their border security needs (with time left over to have coffee with the locals), they now have ten times that number complete with cars, offices, equipment, listening posts, ATVs, security scanners, computer systems and a myriad of other tools “essential” to the security business.  What is absent is something for these officers to do and now, even the officers themselves are blowing the whistle.

The people who suffer most from this incredible build-up is their own people who happen to be visible minorities. If you are Hispanic, be prepared when you enter Port Angeles. Anyone with a dark skin is subject to periodic random checks by different agents at different locations looking for illegal aliens as those agents know there are no “terrorists” to occupy their working hours. As suggested in the Post article, “It’s a police state. It’s un-American.”  Even the citizens of that fine city are becoming concerned as Border Patrol Officers check every nook, cranny, mountain road and water inlet for something that might smell illegal. Small outlying communities such as “Forks” that have a number of minorities including “… natives, Hispanics, red necks, hippies, there’s now an atmosphere of fear in the community.” (Forks Mayor, Bryon Monohon, as reported in NP).

Is this something that just affects the Port Angeles?  Certainly not, the number of border agents along the 49th parallel has built up a hundred fold over the past ten years. Homeland Security is building large new facilities and adding hundreds of agents across the length and breadth of the continent. Examples from the post story: A $15 million facility on 22 acres at Oroville, Washington (south of Osooyos); a $5.7 million building under construction in Port Angeles (large enough to house 50 agents). If one were to trace the rest of our border with the USA you would find a similar build-up including that now including citizen patrols (Similar to our“Red Shirts”) covering the 4000 miles of rugged backcountry that is most of our common border.

Having started from scratch after 911, Homeland Security is now the largest security apparatus in the world and at their current rate of growth they will soon have a budget that exceeds $100,000,000 (one hundred billion).  All this because some idiot tried to carry some dynamite across the border into Port Angeles and several other crazies managed seize four airplanes and kill several thousand people. Every time some crazy now puts a firecracker in his shorts or shoe, security people go crazy.

While everyone would agree the murder of hundreds of innocents in those airliners and in New York City was a tragedy beyond words, it does not even approach the tragedy that has taken place in the years following as the US Government, seizing on that single incident, choose to invade Iraq, then Afghanistan. Tens of thousands US Military (as well as our own soldiers) and innocent civilians have been the result and the carnage continues to this day at a cost of many trillions of dollars. Just the other day another 25 Navy Seals and several civilians were killed in Afghanistan. Think of all the families of those valient soldiers whose lives have forever been changed!

The draconian border controls we now experience at most airports is slowly seeping into other modes of transportation just as it infiltrating our land border points. BC Ferries now has dogs patrolling the parking lots sniffing cars for drugs and explosives.

The challenge we face in Canada is that our own government is being pushed by the United States to follow suit every step of the way. We must now provide extensive lists of our airplane passengers if they just fly over the US. Imagine if we required every US flight that passes over Canada to provide a similar lists to our government and there are many more US flights over Canada than Canada over the US.

We have also initiated our own War on Terror and War on Crime and Drugs, as well as greatly expaned our own Homeland Security (called CSIS) who have been given extraordinary and secretive powers, all at a cost us billions. This, for no purpose other than appeasing the security paranoia that exists within the United States.  If we continue to acquiesce in these matters it will not be long before our border towns, then cities (90% of the Canadian population live along the 49th parallel) will begin to experience the same fate as those poor folks in the quiet communities Port Angeles and Forks.

Take a few minutes to consider our future and then take at least one action.

Harold McNeill
Victoria, BC
August 13, 2011

A short quote:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
…and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Martin Niemoller (1892 – 1984)

1 References:

National Post Article: July 13, 2011) in a repost of an article by Brian Hutchinson, in Port Angeles, Washington.

Harold McNeill: previous personal posts on Facebook and on the blog: www.mcneillifestories.co

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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman