AN old boyfriend of mine is now a big cheese for a major security outfit -- for want of a more accurate term, let’s call it the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). This makes sense; he was always the secretive type. We went out for three years and it was only by subterfuge that I learned his last name. Before that, he’d always scrambled the letters.
It wasn’t true love, or even true like. I often stormed out of wherever we were watching TV together, infuriated by his antediluvian opinions. I have no fond memories of our relationship. Yet, though I haven’t been in touch with him for close to three decades, I feel certain that Mr. CSIS will soon be contacting me on a matter of national security.
He was a cool, quiet customer in the late 1970s and likely remains so now. As such, he’s probably still unable to understand how emotional people like me tick. Meanwhile, the crazy terrorists whose schemes his organization must thwart are nothing if not intense. So, for insight, why should Mr. CSIS not plumb the temperamental depths of his ex-girlfriend? From his perspective, I wasn’t a keeper. When it comes to giving advice, however, I haven’t lost my touch.
Therefore it’s inevitable that he will send me a note by carrier beaver, or whatever CSIS uses these days, so I’ve begun coming up with my own recommendations. As a happily married woman, I won’t seek out Mr. CSIS. Nevertheless, when he contacts me, I’ll be ready, submitting my tips in a timely and responsible fashion.
(Incidentally, a word to the wise, terror-mongers: It used to drive Mr. CSIS nuts when I was late meeting him, so terrorists hoping for gentle treatment if they get caught ought to stick to a strict schedule. They should also wear accurate, top-quality watches. I remember the keen disappointment of Mr. CSIS, always aspirational, the Christmas his middle-class parents gave him an ordinary Timex watch when he had his eye on a Longine-Wittnauer. This may have been the same festive season when my gift to him was a drugstore hairdryer. It was obviously a crushing time for the future bureaucrat, and presumably cemented his plan to become the federal government’s Control Freak in Chief.)
At any rate, my guess is that domestically, Canada will fall into goose-step with the USA in terms of its anti-terrorism efforts. According to the New York Times, south of the border, that battle is primed to infiltrate the mainstream. If American law enforcers get their way, shopping for acetone at Home Depot, or buying vats of hydrogen peroxide if you’re not one of the Lohans, will allow you to be singled out for suspicion as a bomb-maker by your friends, neighbours and co-workers.
As Janet Napolitano, the secretary of U.S.A. Homeland Security, stated in that organization’s Leadership Journal, “homeland security begins with hometown security.” She’s enlisted sheriffs, chiefs of police, and community leaders to develop recommendations to “understand, identify, and combat violent extremism” in their own backyards. This strategy is intended to build on the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign -- not to be confused with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” an American military policy that recommends the opposite.
Will we Canadians follow suit? Hey, underemployed conspiracy theorists -- are you puzzled by your neighbour’s refusal to put up Christmas decorations? Have you never once smelled bacon coming from his home on a Saturday? Has he or any member of his family ever made a fool of him- or herself on Canadian Idol? If so, dial your local RCMP headquarters. Suggest the Mounties do a little light monitoring, with you providing daily supplementary reports from behind your living-room curtain.
But with tips for homeowners, I digress -- my focus today is on actual terrorist detection methods that will protect our borders from evil-minded infiltrators. Listen up, old boyfriend, and call your buddies at the Canadian Border Services Agency. Here goes:
1. Stop bothering Canadian visitors to the U.S. who buy more than their proscribed allotment of items at Target and other American stores. The people you should worry about are those who drive over the border and come back with absolutely no shopping bags to show for it. What the hell were they doing there, then? Think about it. If nothing else, these individuals show a frightening lack of imagination. Do we want people like that in our country? Does the U.S. not have an economy to prop up, and are we not its BFF?
2. When a border official peers at a border crosser who claims to be Canadian, the official should ask who won the final men’s hockey game at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The officer shouldn’t just demand to know which country was triumphant, but which player clinched the deal. If the traveller doesn’t know, or says “Cindi Crosby,” cuff ’im.
3. Badger and bully natural blondes, rather than duskier characters who are obviously just buying vast quantities of peroxide for aesthetic reasons. Natural blondes get a free ride in our society. They are so un-used to being hassled and harassed (except by construction workers) that they’re forced to take up terrorist activities just for something to do. Mr. CSIS, you always liked the petite, fair ladies -- maybe you could take on their interrogations personally. I’m sure your wife would understand.
4. Sniff the traveller’s breath for alcohol. If he or she appears to be alcohol- or drug-free, pull him or her over. Those who don’t fuel up for those interminable border crossings may well have something they’re determined to hide. Funny ideas, for example. Getting any funny ideas is illegal now on both sides of the border, right?
5. Trick the traveller into confessing. “What is the purpose of your visit to Canada?” the border official might ask, idly doodling on a pad of paper as if not remotely interested. Then he or she might add casually, “Is it terrorism, perchance?” If the traveller says “Yes,” the officer should take him at his word. Border officials should be instructed not to say, “Whatever, dude” and welcome the person into our glorious country with the standard high-five.