Speaking to Latino students at Rancho High school in October, Sharron Angle faced some tough questions about a recent campaign ad about border security, which, the students perceived, painted their race as criminals. Her response: It's not just about Mexicans; after all, the 9/11 terrorists entered the U.S. from Canada.
"What we know is that our northern border is where the terrorists came through," Angle told the students. "That's the most porous border that we have. ... So we have to secure all of our borders and that's what that was about, is border security."
Except the 9/11 terrorists didn't actually enter the U.S. from Canada, as the 9/11 Commission had reported in 2004, and Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer was quick to correct her.
Moreover, Angle's case--that her border-security ads focused as much on Canada as on Mexico--sounded like a lame, dishonest attempt to dodge accusations of fear-mongering, as her campaign would routinely depict Latin gangsters in TV ads airing throughout the state. Nobody bought it.
But this week we learned that, on her assessment of the northern border's porousness, Angle was right on the money.
Of the nearly 4,000 norther border miles, only 32 had reached an acceptable security level in fiscal year 2010, Border Patrol told the GAO's investigator. Federal agencies rely heavily on local law enforcement to secure the border, and, with a lack of federal oversight, field agents are left to resolve coordination challenges.
Publishing a study of the northern border yesterday, GAO recommended (and the Department of Homeland Security concurred) that DHS needs to oversee interagency cooperation more effectively.
As Dan Amira points out at New York's Daily Intel, Angle was more right about Canadian border security than Doer, who wrote that "We do not have a 'porous' border but rather one of the more secure borders in the world."
Maybe 2012 political ads will depict flanneled Canadian woodsmen instead of tatted MS-13 gangsters. But don't hold your breath.