Quick Note: In an effort to provide better resource material, I have begun the process of fixing any broken hyperlinks found in past articles.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

North American Perimeter Security and the Militarization of the Northern Border

By Dana Gabriel


With the release of a U.S. Congressional report that found only a small fraction of the border with Canada was being adequately monitored, there is now more focus being placed on the northern border. As a result of increased scrutiny, there are efforts to militarize and expand surveillance on the Canada-U.S. border. The new found attention is also attributed to a proposed trade and security perimeter agreement between the two countries which promotes a shared approach to border management.

A report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in February of this year, found that a substantial portion of the northern border lacked any effective monitoring and surveillance. It concluded that only 32 of the 4,000-mile border was under operational control. The findings were largely based on failures to better coordinate border cooperation and information sharing among the various agencies. A Press Release by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security stated that according to the study, “the risk of terrorist activity across the northern border is higher than across the southern border because there are active Islamist extremist groups in Canada that are not in Mexico, it is easier to cross the northern border because it is twice as long as the southern border, and DHS has a fraction of the law enforcement officers and surveillance assets on the northern border than it has in the south.” It went on to say, “The border with Canada is also dotted with large population centers and criss-crossed by numerous highways and roads, making it harder to detect illegal activities amid the large volume of legitimate trade and travel between Canada and the U.S. that is so important to both countries.”

Monday, April 11, 2011

U.S. Dictating North American Air Travel Security

By Dana Gabriel


Without much fanfare and overshadowed by Canadians heading to the polls on May 2 for the fourth election in seven years, a controversial bill that would further comply with U.S. aviation security practices became law. The measure supports plans for a North American security perimeter and illustrates how the Canadian government is more interested in appeasing U.S. interests than protecting the privacy and freedoms of its own citizens.

In November of 2007, the Conservative government expressed concerns over privacy implications associated with the U.S. Secure Flight Program and filed objections with the Department of Homeland Security. They were urging an exemption on a measure that would require Canadian airlines to turn over information on passengers flying over the U.S. en route to other destinations. Despite their grievances being dismissed, they eventually caved in to U.S. demands. In a move to further bring Canada in line with American air travel security rules, Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act was introduced in Parliament on June 17 of last year. With little media attention, it passed through the House of Commons on March 2, 2011, by a vote of 246 to 34. On March 23, it received royal assent and became law. Under Bill C-42, Canadian airlines are required to send traveler information through the Secure Flight Program 72 hours before departure. The Transportation Security Administration checks the data against security watch lists which could result in passengers receiving extra screening or even being barred from boarding their flight.