MASSE REQUESTS PRIME MINISTER ACT ON U.S. DEPT. OF HOMELAND SECURITY REVIEW OF CANADIAN BORDER BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE
January 30th, 2009 - 5:07pm
January 30, 2009
Right Honourable Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
House of Commons
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
Following the inauguration of President Obama and his new administration in the United States last week, the new Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has evaluated and along with the her department, identified, Canadian border security along the U.S. border has failed. They have concluded that there are too many vulnerabilities and that our half of the international border poses a great terrorist threat given the length and limited law enforcement. This is unacceptable.
Ms. Napolitano has ordered that U.S. agencies including Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and her own department’s intelligence branch assess these vulnerabilities and recommend what can be done to improve security threats and risks. The deadline for these agencies to report back orally is February 10, 2009, with a final report to due February 17, 2009.
I am respectfully requesting that the Government of Canada participate in this review or contact the Department of Homeland Security in response to this reported review objecting that we are a greater terrorist threat, and asking for their evidence on this evaluation including a direct challenge to the fact that we are listed a higher terrorist threat than their respective border with Mexico.
This matter should not be left until it is too late, as we must not further jeopardize the state of trade including the free flow of goods and people across this most important border, especially at this time of global economic instability. With the United States being our largest trading partner, it is imperative that we keep the lines of communication open and discuss these matters before new regulations are established which may serve to deteriorate relations between us and our most important neighbor to the south.
I thank you in advance for your time and prompt attention to this matter. I have attached for your information recent news clippings which detail the plans by the Ms. Napolitano to pursue such a review on our border including the deadlines for this study. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly should you have any questions or concerns.
Brian Masse MP
NDP Industry Critic (including Automotive Issues and Border Issues)
CC: Hon. Peter Van Loan – Minister of Public Safety
Monday, January 26, 2009
Napolitano's priority: Canada border
Vulnerabilities along the Canadian border are one of more than a half-dozen priorities identified by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano during her first week, along with cybersecurity and ensuring that federal officials are properly communicating with state and local officials.
"The northern border of the United States has become, since 9/11, important to our national security," Miss Napolitano wrote in an action directive issued Friday.
"As we have designed programs to afford greater protection against unlawful entry, members of Congress and homeland security experts have called for increased attention to the Canadian border," the directive said.
Miss Napolitano asked for an oral report by Feb. 10 on current vulnerabilities, the overall strategy to reduce such, a budget and time frame for improving security, and the level of risk that will remain once the programs are completed.
Meanwhile, members of the National Latino Congreso are asking Miss Napolitano to use her position as the nation's leading immigration officer to emphasize immigrant rights and end the department's "immigration fear-mongering."
"Virtually every issue related to immigrants is now viewed as a 'security matter' while the positive and needed impact of immigrants on the nation's economy, society, families and communities is ignored," the group wrote in a Jan. 21 letter.
"We now have an outpouring of hatred and hostility against immigrants by elements of our society who take it out on anyone they believe is Latino or an immigrant," the letter said. "We hope you will help change the tone of the immigration debate by making the defense of due process and civil rights a DHS priority, and continually using your platform to affirm the enormous contributions immigrations are making to protect our quality of life."
During her confirmation hearing with the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Miss Napolitano said she would increase prosecutions of businesses that hire illegal workers.
But the Hispanic advocacy group is asking her to put an end to raids in schools, neighborhoods and workplaces. The organization said such raids have "destroyed families and spread terror through our communities."
Citing the increasingly sophisticated number of threats to cyberspace, Miss Napolitano asked Friday for a second oral report Feb. 3 on Homeland Security's responsibility for protecting government and private-sector domains, as well as the current relationships with the departments of Defense, Treasury and Energy, and the National Security Agency.
On her first day at the helm of the fledgling agency, less than 24 hours after Barack Obama took the presidential oath of office, the former Arizona governor issued directives to brief her in the coming weeks on state and local intelligence sharing, critical infrastructure protection, risk analysis, state, local and tribal integration, and transportation security.
"These action directives are designed to begin a review, evaluation and dialogue between the various functions of this department and me," Miss Napolitano said. "I look forward to receiving the information and to working with the offices and agencies involved to make DHS a more effective and a more efficient department."
Amy Kudwa, acting Homeland Security press secretary, said Miss Napolitano spent her first week meeting with top agency officials. She has asked some - including Deputy Secretary Paul A. Schneider, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner W. Ralph Basham and Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen - to stay on during the transition period.
Miss Napolitano announced that Mr. Obama will nominate U.N. Assistant Secretary-General Jane Holl Lute to serve as deputy secretary, and she has appointed two of her Arizona aides to Homeland Security posts - Noah Kroloff as chief of staff for policy and Jan Lesher as chief of staff for operations.
"I am confident that the counsel and leadership of my senior team will benefit this department greatly," Miss Napolitano said.
"Jane's experience leading large operations with broad and challenging missions lends itself to the undertaking we have before us at Homeland Security. I look forward to working with these talented individuals as we work to further unify this department under our common mission."
Meanwhile, Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, has requested a meeting with the new secretary to make her case for allowing airport screeners and other employees of the Transportation Security Administration to bargain collectively. The union represents tens of thousands of key front-line Homeland Security employees.
"I look forward to speaking with you about these issues, among others, to foster needed positive change and improvements in the DHS workplace," Miss Kelley said.
HOMELAND SECURITY: New look at Canadian border security ordered
BY LES BLUMENTHAL
WASHINGTON -- Just days after being sworn in, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has ordered a comprehensive review of security efforts along the border between the United States and Canada.
Agencies including Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard and her department's intelligence branch have been asked to assess the vulnerabilities along the 4,000-mile northern border -- the longest undefended border in the world -- and recommend what can be done to improve security.
While more attention has been focused on the southern border with Mexico, the department has said that the terrorist threat is greater on the U.S.-Canadian border, given its length and limited law enforcement.
''This continuing evaluation will unify our shared efforts and help me assess where improvements need to be made,'' Napolitano said.
The agencies are to report back orally by Feb. 10, with a final report due Feb. 17.
Napolitano, the former governor of Arizona, has asked for reviews of other Department of Homeland Security programs, including such things as cybersecurity.
Lawmakers from northern states have long complained that U.S.-Canada border issues have been shortchanged with the southern border made a higher priority.
In a report late last year, the Government Accountability Office, Congress' investigative arm, said the Homeland Security Department hadn't been fully responsive in providing information to Congress on the northern border. The GAO said there were gaps in the information presented and that budget documents did not ''reflect the resources needed'' to achieve control of the northern border.
Every year, more than 70 million travelers and 35 million vehicles cross the border with Canada.