UPDATE: digitaljournal.com covered this in May 2010–so the story isn’t recent. Also, it is apparently unverified, and therein lies the rub. Are these stories the tip of the iceberg? Why don’t we hear about the three terrorist the USA arrest at Niagra border crossing each day (cf. audio)?
Please, somebody tell me that this audio, which has had 181 thousand views, is not real. It all starts with the couple’s cheeky response to the question which “stores” they were going to visit at a mall.
This Youtube audio came with the following text:
A Canadian couple arrive at the Niagara Falls border crossing. They are asked where they are going and they mention a Niagara Falls shopping mall. The immigration official asks what shops they plan to visit and they ask why they need to answer such questions. They are ordered out of their car and taken inside for further interrogation. When the Canadian man points up the ridiculous nature of this interrogation by asking, what are you gonna do, shoot me? the officials claim he is threatening them and assaulting them because he backed away while being arrested. The officials say everyone is required to submit to whatever order they give, no questions allowed. The man and his wife are thrown in jail, at which point the audio ends.
We subject law-abiding Canadian visitors to this kind of treatment while allowing mass illegal immigration across our southern border. This is no mistake; it is a perfectly designed system that reveals what sort of tyranny we are under.
I think we can expect more and more of this treatment in the future. What do we learn from this audio? 1. The United States is very paranoid about Canadians who travel across the border to shop in the failing retail outlets in their country. 2. Backing away from a Federal officer is “assault”. 3. Border officials respond to cheeky answers with disproportionate force. 4. When traveling to a US border station, Canadians have no rights. 5. You may not raise your voice to a federal officer–I guess because they belong to the royal elite and no mere pleb dares do that.
wow.. too tense.. Is this you Peter? 🙂
If you listen very carefully, you will hear a little bit of a Canadian accent from the border-guard supervisor in the second part. But I’m not too sure if that upper-New York accent or Canadian since the border has been relatively porous for so many years.
@Geeez, I’ve traveled around the world. I am NEVER cheeky with these people, because they have absolutely zero sense of what your rights are. I usually see them as touchy people with a very low level of intelligence, and I try to avoid any kind of confrontation. Usually, when traveling to sun destinations where there is a strong dependence on tourism, the officials are the most welcoming and professional. Other places, not so much.
That said, I don’t see what this couple did that should have got them arrested and the heavy-handed treatment they received. If the US didn’t want them to shop in the USA, they should just turn them back. Arresting them was way over the top, and when they waste time and taxpayers’ money, and they end up missing real belligerents. It is stupid and unprofessional and a waste of time. They create an incident by their lack of courtesy. This is what I call mean-spirited.
Pulling your arm away from a customs officer is ‘assault’? Really?
*I have personally had unpleasant exchanges on crossing into the US. Still, I think there are reasons to suspect that this recording might be fake:
It might be quite legitimate, but without answers to some of these questions, I suggest you regard this with just a bit of scepticism.
maybe it was produced by Ontario retailers 🙁
@NorthernShrike: Your skepticism is entirely correct and fully warranted, especially from a scholarly point of view.
Neverthless, I don’t think its a fake. I admit that it’s unverified and I would like more information about its provenance, etc. Yet we know that this is exactly how US federal officials have acted in many other circumstances which can be verified. Thus, why would someone fake something like this. I think it would require a lot of effort to fake with actors and what not. It seems far too authentic in that sense to have been created merely to create fear.
If anything, this kind of a recording is merely a confirmation of what know already is a fearful thing. The United States government is to be feared. Or did you miss the Naomi Wolfe video? Why do they need to be able to arrest people without a possibility of due process? We must fear a government that attains such powers with the intention of wielding them. And what about drones on the Canadian border–the same drones that Obama has admitted has killed a few innocent people in alleged attack against terrorists in Pakistan and elsewhere.
We know in our minds, therefore, that we must fear these new powers. The video, with the screaming and panicking wife and the husband who is arrested for “assault” because he backs away from armed men who are grabbing him, this confirms to our emotions what we know in our brains is true. Our hearts are reluctant, I think, to accept that it could be this bad. In my opinion, our hearts must catch up to our what we know intellectually to be true.
@Northern Shrike, also I should mention that I have seen first hand how US border guards have taunted people at the border (Windsor crossing). The guard who did this was taunting truck drivers (myself included) in a long line (losing time and money), and his only purpose was to show how big and powerful he was. The truck drivers all just looked at the ground. he was a complete asshole, and he did this right in front of another border guard–so this is something that they do as matter of course. It was over ten years ago, well before 9-11 if memory serves. The man was unprofessional and his fellow guard should have turned him in. But they protect each other.
The portrayal of guards in audio is exactly how they act with the air of authority that they take. I’ve seen this with my own eyes how capricious and nasty they can be, more than once.
@bubblebustin, when a historian faces an unconfirmed historical source, they must determine if it is authentic, or if not willing to accept as genuine, they must decide what would be the motive for creating a fake. NorthernShrike offers one such reason: to feed anxieties and fears. But this alone doesn’t suffice, as it is an effect rather than a cause. Thanks for offering a cause. The retailers in Canada want Canadians to fear crossing the border.
*You need to use common-sense descretion when joking with customs officials and immigration officers. Back in 1979 I flew back to Miami from Montreal. my gate still had the prior flight which had not left yet, so I took a seat to wait close to the US immigration officer who was clearing those flying to the US. One very well and flashy dressed young lady was being asked questions about the purpose of her visit to New York.to see her boy friend. Apparently she was with just a few dollars in her pocked (the officer asked her how much she had) which seemed very low so I suspect she may have had doubts about the purpose of her visit. Could it be that she was a “professional” and planned on earning money in NY providing services? I suspect that is what went through the mind of the female US immigration service.
The young lady became very indignant and said “I want you to know that I work in Prime Minister Trudeau’s office and he’s going to hear about that!” Then she damanded “Let me talk to your supervisor!” Her supervisior was within hearing range so he stepped over to try to calm her down, but she began to scream and yell and tore the badge of the supervisor’s shirt and threw it. It landed in the empty seat next to me. Out of nowhere appeared an immaculately dressed RCMP ask her was the problem was. She began to rant and rave about “These Americans” who come up here and think they can order Canadians around!” So fast that I could hardly sense what was happening, the RCMP spun her around, held her arms behind her back, snapped on a pair of handcuffs, lifted her arms high behind her back and wheeled her out of there like a wheelborrow. Needless to say she missed her flight.
On my last trip to Toronto to attend and antique telephone show in Bramalea, a friend had asked me to stay overnight with him. We both are antique phone collectors. The officer asked my the purpose of my visit, then where I was staying. When I said “with a friend,” he asked for the address, which I did not know because I had never been at his home before. I told him I did not know, but that he was picking me up outside. He was satisfiied with my answer and admitted me. But if I had been a wise guy and replied by asking him why he wanted to know, the same thing might have happened as happpened to the couple who was asked what stores they intended to visit. Immigration officers generally have reasons for their questions and are not just playing games.
I heard this one before and got the impression that it was a mise en scene, contrived albeit very realistic. If it were real, then of course the device used for the recording must have been conserved by the “victims” somehow. That surprises me, as I think that CBP would be very thorough about searching their belongings. CBP and customs have been known to seize electronic devices and break into them. I find it unlikely that the audio recording would have been so easily available after such an arrest. If somehow the device was obtained by the victims after the fact, this could mean one of two things (or maybe both). 1. They were eventually released after another supervisor took over. 2. The device was obtained pursuant to a motion in court. In both cases, why don’t we see any evidence of a lawyer’s involvement, or a court case? If this had happened to me, I would not post the audio without a reference to the follow up that I would do with an attorney, court, etc.
This having been said, I have observed many instances of unprofessional, or at least taunting behavior on the part of CBP and customs. This does not go for all of them. Agriculture has never stopped me, so I don’t know about them. The only people that seem consistently to be polite are the people with the beagles that look for fruit (in the carosel hall, before customs–the other agriculture control is after customs), although many people get disgusted when their fruit is seized. I don’t know much about the land borders, as I have very little experience there.
An effective delivery of a good audio script. Just not plausible that somebody in that kind of happenstance trouble would have made it out of the situation with a recording in hand. Those border goons ransack data devices at will. Think about the quality of the audio and the ambient noise and sound conditions that are present – or not present. It’s also almost beyond plausible that Sir Testosterone would keep on and on like that while the situation deteriorated – especially if Sir T is supposed to be “Canadian,” with all that that stereotypically implies.
*I agree with roger conklin. Border guards often attempt to provoke a negative reaction. If people react aggressively, then such suggest criminal intent. No matter which nation one enters anywhere in the world, one should always be calm, polite and professional.
Switzerland catches more criminals beyond the border, rather than on the border. I was once driving way up in the alps, in the middle of nowhere, with my mother who came over for a visit from the US. We were stopped by some police with semi-automatic rifles. My mother then got out of the car and wanted to take a picture, but the police warned her that such was prohibited. My mother started making a fuss about her being American and having the right to take pictures. I told her to be quiet and to get into the car. I then paid the fine for her not wearing her seat belt and we drove off without any other troubles.
I don’t know that it is so unlikely that the couple could have left this situation with a recording in hand. That is more plausible than that they found some really good actors who could construct a script and scenario and do the fine acting job that they have done. Given the many other scenarios and the m.o. of border guards, I am definitely inclined to see this as just another example of stupid harassment and the unprofessionalism of the border authorities. I’ve read verifiable accounts where the TSA acts in this extreme manner towards air passengers. It is really just another example of the unnecessary hostility coming from border officials.
What I still don’t understand is why a couple like this would be arrested instead of just simply turned back. If it is a mise-en-scene, ok. But if this is real, then why are they would they bother the Justice Department with this? So this could explain what happens next. The DoJ, just drops its charges–the couple receives a warning, and they go back to Canada with the intention of never casually crossing the border to shop in the United States ever again. I think that eventually all Canadians should come to that decision: do not cross the border unless you have important business or family matters to attend to.
Consider that they wanted to charge this couple with “obstruction of justice” and “assault”. So we see that federal officials are using their own false understanding of the law to bully people. The man’s response that he didn’t know what stores they were going to go to and Why did he need to know that in any case, seem to me to be legitimate response. There was nothing like obstruction of justice.
But this is completely plausible. Remember Scooter Libby and Conrad Black went to jail for obstruction of justice. That’s what they charge you with in all cases where there is little or no crime underlying the issues. That just means that the Federal officials didn’t like your answers. That’s all.
This article is horrendous.
@Mark Twain What about the AMT, the article doesn’t mention that.
I once considered starting a Brock post where people shared their border stories, but thought there could be trouble from DHS for ‘spying’ on US border operations. It seems that someone else has done that for us here. I haven’t read all the stories, but Mr’s stands out:
My feeling is that our video clip is theatre because the audio is so good. Great acting! It does, however demonstrate how each chain of command escalated his problems.
For those Canadians ‘hogging’ US milk in Bellingham http://isaacbrocksociety.ca/2012/03/30/flaherty-hikes-border-shopping-limits-4/ , see http://www.discovery.org/a/18021 “…….Amtrak Cascades passengers will enjoy more reliable southbound service into Bellingham because U.S. border agents will conduct security inspections in Vancouver, B.C., rather than along the tracks in Blaine…...”…”Agnew credited Democratic U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett, for working on a provision of law in 2008 that directed Amtrak to plan for pre-clearance in Vancouver. That laid the groundwork, allowing Obama and Harper to say it has been thoroughly vetted, Agnew said.”
And, so far drones and other technology will stand in the way of your search for cheaper groceries, as yet no US/Canada version of the Berlin wall, or the wall between Israel and the Palestinians. See “U.S. suggests drones, underground sensors to beef up surveillance along Canadian border by Armina Ligaya | Aug 15, 2012 8:27 AM ET” http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/08/15/u-s-suggests-drones-underground-sensors-to-beef-up-surveillance-along-canadian-border/ Which, as the article notes, is a positive from the environmental point of view – no current plan for massive physical barriers which would impede the movement and migration of wildlife. As long as the drones don’t start blowing up deer, moose and bears minding their own sovereign business.
And, related are these stories, one referred to on an earlier thread, but worth repeating:
and this: http://scottkuhagen.com/2011/06/23/dhs-ordered-to-produce-documents-on-immigration-checks-on-amtrak/ “(including an email that required U.S. Customs and Border Protection employees to produce a minimum of three charging documents a day).”
As an update on one of the stories above, and to discussions on other IBS threads. You don’t need to be travelling crossborder to be forced to prove your US citizenship status: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/08/26/1124395/-It-s-Not-Papers-Please-But-It-s-Still-Citizenship-Please-in-Upstate-New-York Sun Aug 26, 2012 at 10:24 AM PDT
It’s Not “Papers, Please,” But It’s Still “Citizenship, Please” in Upstate New York” . So, even with US citizenship and a US passport, inside the US you’re being expected to carry your documents with you in order to travel domestically unimpeded?
Who needs other reasons to reconsider continuing to hold unwanted inherited US citizenship? And Canadians should make an ongoing personal commitment to be vigilant and alert for the continued erosion of Canadian sovereignty vis a vis the US. As they have demonstrated, the US government hubris and arrogance knows no limits, and wherever they get an inch, they’ll take kilometres.
I’m inclined to think that it’s real. At least, I see no reason to suspect it’s fake. A phone set to record and in the breast pocket on his shirt would give good audio quality much like that. There have been quite a few YouTube videos of border crossings, particularly while driving cars, probably because a lot of people seem to expect to get harassed these days. The border guards’ behavior is pretty much what I’d expect from those kind of people, not exactly intelligent and a bit high on their plastic badge power. Who knows though. But it doesn’t seem implausible to me.
Maybe it’ll show up on Snopes someday and we’ll all know for sure.
I believe he was ordered to hand his phone over and we have a recording of what transpired after that. Perhaps at the point though, he was able to have any recording made at the facility released to him/his attorney.
Welcome to America! If a cop punches you, you are guilty of assault, if a cop tries to punch you and you back away, you are guilty of obstructing justice (and assault). Nice reminder on why I have not stepped foot in that hellhole for over 5 years.
He was obviously wondering what if…? What if I push the envelope and give them the…I know my rights….scpeil. News Flash…not a border agent that I have met on this planet would have given him a pass. if you feal like argueing or picking a fight…these people will give you soooo accomodate you! I’m going to guess that the outcome was this: no jail time…they went back home to Canada but boys or boy will travelling internationally be fun now! Give yourself three days…not three hours for connections. Lastly…what were you thinking! Those people have wet dreams about someone who wants to engage them.
The level of “intelligence” of these cops is amazing! l0l Seriously, this Canadian guy should’ve put a complaint in his embassy or something like that.
Guess what! When you are at a border crossing you are not in any country (unless flying), so nobody try to give me a right’s speech.
We have not rights until we cross the booth in either direction.