Two Men with Weapons But No Passports in Another Country

The more I think about this story, the more ridiculous it appears.

WSJ’s sources are concerned, apparently, that US counterterrorism officials did not have prior knowledge of two men who each killed a Canadian soldier this week.

Neither of the two Canadian men who attacked soldiers and Parliament this week were on a terror watch list in the U.S.—one because of privacy laws in Canada—raising concerns among American officials about possible intelligence gaps close to home.

On Monday, Martin Rouleau used his car to strike and kill one Canadian soldier and injure another outside Montreal, before being killed by police. On Wednesday, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau used a rifle to kill a soldier in Ottawa, then stormed Parliament where he died from shots fired by security personnel, including the sergeant-at-arms.

Neither were marked in U.S. databases of security threats, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

The concern is particularly crazy given that neither man had a passport, in the first case because it had been taken away; in the second because he had not yet obtained one.

In Mr. Rouleau’s case, that was especially alarming because Canadian authorities say they had taken away his passport and put him on a watch list because he had attempted to travel to Syria to join fighting there.


Canadian investigators say Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau didn’t have a passport, but had come to Ottawa in the hopes of getting one so he could travel to Syria. Canadian officials have said that while they were aware of Mr. Zehaf-Bibeau, he wasn’t on their watch list.

Sure, either of these men could have snuck across the border in the wilds of Minnesota and then attempted what they attempted in Canada. Which, had the succeeded in our more vigilant society, would make them less lethal than the latest school shooting.

Doesn’t the US have more dangerous things to worry about than every single disgruntled man in another country who happens to have a gun — or a car? I mean, if these guys starting actually plotting — making them a much bigger threat — then their very act of plotting would be likely to bring greater scrutiny.

The disproportionate nature of this concern is all the more apparent when you consider Mexico, where authorities — authorities that often have ties to our DEA  — can disappear 43 students without immediate alarm. Shouldn’t we be more concerned that lethal DEA allies will walk across the southern border and start disappearing students here? US authorities seem perfectly complacent about the often officially sanctioned violence in that adjoining country.

ISIL is a threat. Angry men armed with guns are a threat, whether they’re Muslim or not.

But a drive for omniscience divorced from any real awareness of how the failure of governance — not jus the vacuums we’ve contributed to in the Middle East, but increasingly here — fosters threats yoked to fear blown entirely out of proportion will not eliminate the threat, and it will suck the life out of our country in so many other ways.

Perhaps we’d be far better served offering an ideology that can compete with ISIL’s rather than simply dragnetting everyone?

4 replies
  1. orionATL says:

    both these guys appear to have french-canadien names which might have predisposed them given the prior conflict in canada between french-speaking and english-speaking canadians.

    in fact though, mental illness of some sort seems to account for almost all if not all individual “terrorist” attacks. better to cut out the misleading labeling of “terrorist” and use “attack by a deranged individual” who would have found another verbal flag to fight under if there were no muslim-euro-american conflict.

  2. TarheelDem says:

    Meanwhile in the United States, there is a political terrorist hiding out who has killed a cop. But he is a white Neo-Nazi.

    One analyst (War Nerd) of this situation advocates letting these wannabe jihadis go and achieve their martyrdom through being suited up with a suicide bomb. The argument is: at least it gets them out of the country and potentially ends them as a threat for good.

    But the political agenda for Harper is to tear down that pesky privacy law so that the Canadians can more easily participate legally in NSA’s Five Eyes initiatives. And the US concerned commenters are wanting to continue to justify the sorts of security theater that has proven not to work in order to keep the big bucks coming to all the grifters that depend on that largesse.

  3. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The US seems hell-bent on trying to generate a Philip K. Dick-like capacity to know about everyone and their intentions. The reason to bemoan that “one” got through the net is to justify the global net. This “net” has costs, of course, as do big oil, big coal, big chemicals, and big Ag. As with those industries, it is vital to distract from their social and economic costs in order to persuade the people to pay for them. This is as much about security as ousting Chavez, Allende or Arbenz was about promoting democracy.

    Crime is random, no matter how many influences one can chart and program. Then there’s our inherent irrationality and the govt’s predilection to ignore swaths of the govt’s own conduct, discriminatory economic policies and discriminatory laws and enforcement among them. Charts and programs with so many holes would reinforce existing elite prejudices. The benefit from the elite’s perspective is that that would make predicting who would commit what crimes a slam dunk.

  4. bell says:

    hey! i think it’s obvious.. take away all of our privacy and make it so the stooge in power (joeboy for the americans) harper – rolls out the red carpet for the nsa, cia and every other snoop service that has invaded any shred of american privacy their might be left.. heard much about the drones the size of a hummingbird lately? the one’s that can look in your windows to see what you are doing?

    as a canuck and from a distance – that is the message being communicated here as i read it..

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