Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, right, and Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., speak on their way to a news conference after touring the Los Angeles port complex at the Port of Los Angeles Coast Guard Station on Monday, April 13, 2009, in Los Angeles
Ottawa was rushing to defend its border security on Tuesday amid a diplomatic scuffle with the U.S., which erupted after Washington’s homeland security chief suggested that the 9-11 terrorists entered the U.S. through Canada.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano made the comments during a media interview earlier this week, much to the chagrin of Canadians on both sides of the border.
In recent years, Ottawa has invested a great deal of effort into dispelling perceptions among Americans that Canada’s border is an easy entry point for terrorists planning attacks on U.S. soil.
“Unfortunately, misconceptions arise on something as fundamental as where the 9-11 terrorists came from,” said Michael Wilson, Canada’s ambassador in Washington.
“As the 9-11 commission reported in 2004, all of the 9-11 terrorists arrived in the United States from outside North America. They flew to major U.S. airports. They entered the U.S. with documents issued by the United States government and no 9-11 terrorists came from Canada.”
Clearly, Napolitano is incapable of doing the job. Now, she insults Canada for no apparent reason. But, tries to backtrack:
Later, Napolitano’s staff attempted to tamp down the controversy by blaming the comments on a simple misunderstanding, said Wilson, who was the keynote speaker at the Border Trade Alliance meeting in Washington Tuesday.
“Her comment from her people is that she misunderstood,” Wilson said, adding that he was planning a personal meeting with Napolitano in the near future.
The furor began when Napolitano was asked to clarify statements she had made about equal treatment for the Mexican and Canadian borders, despite the fact that a flood of illegal immigrants and a massive drug war are two serious issues on the southern border.
“Yes, Canada is not Mexico, it doesn’t have a drug war going on, it didn’t have 6,000 homicides that were drug-related last year,” she said.
“Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it’s been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there.”
When asked if she was referring to the 9-11 terrorists, Napolitano added: “Not just those but others as well.”
However, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan downplayed the comments and said that Napolitano is well aware that Canada was not the source of the 9-11 terrorists.
“We spoke about it back in March, and we were sharing a chuckle at the fact that the urban myth does circulate,” he told CTV’s Power Play.
“Ms. Napolitano understood quite clearly, then and now, that none of the September 11 terrorists came through Canada, as the 9-11 Commission found.”
Secretary Napolitano should apologize and then resign.