FEBRUARY 07, 2011
While the Department of Homeland Security claims terrorists are more likely to enter the United States through the northern border than the south, the agency secures only a tiny portion of the area though it assures that agents maintain “situational awareness” along dangerous stretches.Less than 1% of the 4,000-mile U.S.-Canada border is adequately secured by theU.S., according to a government audit that attributes the problem to rivalries and lack of coordination among various law enforcement agencies. As a result, the Border Patrol maintains an “acceptable level of control” over only 32 miles of the Canadian border stretching from Washington State to Maine.Not to worry. The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol, told government investigators that agents still maintain “situational awareness” along the areas that appear to lack adequate security. These reassuring words are actually cited in the lengthy report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, this month.U.S. taxpayers doled out nearly $3 billion in 2010 to guard the Canadian border and federal agents made around 6,000 arrests and confiscated 40,000 pounds of narcotics but the area remains a national security threat. That’s because federal agents don’t have the ability to detect illegal activity across most of the area, according to the GAO probe. As a result, “few northern border miles” reached an “acceptable level of security” in 2010.In December a separate GAO report focusing on federal borderlands in the north and south revealed that a rural and dangerous portion along Canada is practically ignored by the U.S. As a result, the stretch—which runs from Washington State toMontana—is rife with drug smuggling and potential terrorism and gang threats. The area is also considered an important entry point for aircraft that smuggle drugs fromCanada.The problem is biggest in the Border Patrol’s Spokane sector, which is a prime entry point for high-potency marijuana from Canada. The sector covers five national forests, two wilderness areas and a national park. Border Patrol officials admit that the level of illegal activity is significantly higher than what’s reflected in the number of drug seizures and apprehensions, which has actually decreased in the last few years.
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