Need help debunking a 9/11 myth.

Hey all.

I’ve gotten embroiled in a heated email list discussion in which the myth that the 9/11 hijackers entered the USA through Canada has been repeatedly used to slander Canada as a terrorist sympathizer and to justify harsh border controls.

My protestations that they all legally entered the US from Europe has been met with demands for cites. However, I’m having a real problem finding reputable links that I can use to support my position. The list is composed largely of intelligent, rational people (except for one raving idealogue of the ‘Brutus’ variety) and I’ve no doubt that if I can provide some solid documentation that it will be accepted.

Can anybody point me in the right direction? Most of the 9/11 timelines I’ve found tend to be a little sketchy on this particular point.

Have you read the 9-11 Commision Report?

It has some detail as to the travels of the hijackers.

I know that our Ambassador to the US, Frank McKenna, has launched a campaign to fight the ignorance about 9/11 and Canada’s role in it. As I recall he was sending out information to all ex-pat Canadians living in the States chalk full of information regarding this. I could be wrong about the sending thing, and it could just be something you ask for. At the moment I cannot see how you can recieve this information, but I would guess you could email him, and an aide will answer it with the information you need.

Here is a link to a letter to the editor he wrote to the New York Times that might help.

Here is an email address for the Washington DC embassy:

After all the kindnesses Canada gave to America after 9-11 it is very upsetting that some people seem incapable of simple gratitude.

Thanks for the links. I remember scanning through the 9/11 commission report a long time ago but had completely forgotten that it was available online.

Queuing, I hadn’t thought of going to the Canadian Embassy web site. I’ve been very impressed with McKenna’s job performance, so far. I wish we had a few politicians like him on the Federal scene.

Yes, so far so have I. He stands up to Americans, but in a nice way. Which is what we need, what with the relations between the 2 nations fairly low.

I have to say I am not completely sold on voting against the Liberals come January. Mostly because of Mike Harris, and come on? the NDP? I am at a loss frankly about our own political situation.

Huh? Am I out of touch in some big way? Who’s been blaming Canada and what the heck for? Why is their ambassador having to defend anything? Is this what they’ve been talking about on Air America or something?

I realize we’re getting ready to really tighten our borders with Canada, and there may be some border risk there, but it’s because we’re such friends with Canada that the borders are the way they are. It’s going to be a shame to destroy this camraderie (passports will do that quickly), but it’s definitely a bunch of wacko’s fault, not Canada’s.

[right wing whine] B-b-b-but, the Canadians speak French![/rww]

This is a common misperception, and it stems from the fact that the earliest reports on the hijackers indicated that they had crossed the border from Canada to Jackman, Maine, either early on the morning of 9-11 or late in the evening of 9-10. A check of the NY Times archive shows that they were reporting this as early as 9/13 (“FBI traces Path of Five in New England”, by James C. McKinley Jr. and Kate Zernike). By December 2001 or therabouts, it was clear that this claim was erroneous.

By the time the 9-11 Commission released their report, we knew definiteively when the hijackers entered the country (as early as January 2000), and where they spent the intervening months. From chapter seven, of the 9/11 Commission’s report.

Everybody should read this report. People think they already know what’s in thee, but as the OP’s query suggests, they don’t.

Heavens. It’s ridiculous anyway, since it’s not as if we have a porous border and asked the Canadians to “Be Real Strict So We Won’t Have To.” Anyone who enters North America via Canada is still going to have to cross into the U.S. someplace. The U.S. is just as responsible for controlling its border with Canada (and applying controls) as it is for being careful about visitors who fly in from other parts of the world. If U.S. Border Officials were cavalier about checking travelers simply because they were coming from Canada, that’s our naive mistake. Not Canada’s.

Or are they suggesting that Canada let them in and they then sneaked across to the U.S.?

Fox News.

Apparently, in some circles, many people still believe that the 9/11 terrorists came from Canada, and that we were somehow complacent in this. Add on to this the fact we didn’t join into Iraq (we are however sending troops into combat into Afghanistan to free up more US soldiers to fight in Iraq), plus Mad cow and all of our tall trees, many members of the media find it easy to blame Canada. McKenna is fighting that.

This was my first reaction too. However, pre-9/11 crossing the border from Canada to the US was a non-event. I live near Windsor and would frequently just hop over to Detroit to see a game, go shopping, whatever, as if Detroit were an extension of Windsor. The usual routine was:

Border guard: “Citizenship?”
Me: “Canadian”
BG: “Okay.”

[sometimes BG would ask how long we’d be in the US]

Remember it was said with pride at one time that the US/Canada border is the longest undefended national border in the world. While we’re far from seeing machine guns at every checkpoint, things have surely changed. The last time I went to see the Tigers lose, I got held up at the border and missed half the game. Not saying we should go back to the way it was, nosiree. Just commenting on the difference.

So some have argued (I’m not making the argument), that had the terrorists entered the continent via Canada to take advantage of 1) Canada’s comparitively lax security and 2) the trust relationship between Canada and the US.

I can see how it is therefore important in some way to know how the terrorists got here.

Sadly, not just the media. Certain vocal politicians have found it convenient to scapegoat Canada as being soft on security and/or terrorism. Newt Gingrich, for instance, or Hillary Clinton who seems to love pointing the finger north everytime something bad happens, e.g., 9/11, SARS, the blackout, etc.

Is all the bull roar about the Canadian border just so they don’t have to face the challenge of looking at the Mexican one?

I see. He’s not going to have a lot of luck, then, me’thinks. Despite the fact that I read (don’t watch, don’t receive it) Fox News, I don’t remember hearing any of this rhetoric. On the other hand, I only check out the news-news, not the commentary-news :slight_smile: Oh, I was saying he won’t have a lot of luck, because literate and semi-literate people can’t possibly believe that Canada has any malicious intent towards the United States, and the not-so-literate people won’t realize Canada has an ambassor, who McKenna is, or bother to listen to him in the first place. Hell, from what I hear, unless one is from a border state, one doesn’t even know Canada exists at all!

I haven’t heard anyone really blame Canada for allowing the 9/11 hijackers to enter the US. I think most of us simply give a ‘pass’ to anything that happened pre-9/11…the 9/11 Commission gave equal amount of responsibility to both Clinton and Bush, but I’ve never heard anyone really upset about it.

HOWEVER…if one were looking for a reason to be upset with a post-9/11 border crossing into the US, one would have to look no further than Gregory Despres who, according to the Boston Globe, crossed the border in April raving about being a Marine sniper who worked for President Bush while covered in blood and carrying a chainsaw. Yikes. If this guy is getting through AFTER 9/11, how upset can we be about a couple of guys crossing the border with a couple of boxcutters on them?

Of course then there is the obvious fact that people crossing into the US are scrutinized by US immigration, not Canadian.

I remember those days. On both sides of the border security was lax.

Of course it is, but I believe that the two relevant points are 1) none of the 19 hijackers entered the US from Canada, and 2) the mistaken belief that some (or all) did stems not from conspiracy theorists or anti-Canadian bias, but from the early, credible reports that later proved to be false. (It was widely reported, in both the US and Canadian press in the days and weeks immediately following the attacks that the FBI believed that the hijackers had assembled in Toronto then crossed the US/Canada border into Maine within 24 hours of the attacks.)

It also bears noting that other Al Qaeda operatives, specifically those involved in the so-called “Millennium Plot”, did cross the border on a ferry from Victoria, BC to Port Angeles, Washington.

But with reagrds to the 9-11 hijackers, the facts are clear. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers came to the US from Al Qaeda bases in Afghanistan, traveling over land to Karachi Pakistan, then flying to the UAE, and on to various points in the US. These so-called “muscle hijackers” (in contrast to the “pilot hijackers”) entered in pairs, beginning in late April 2001, arriving in Orlando, Miami, Washington, and New York.

As for the Pilots, Hani Hanjour arrived in San Diego from Dubai (via Paris) on December 8, 2000; Ziad Jarrah arrived in Florida from Germany in February, 2001; Marwan al Shehhi arrived in Newark from Brussels on May 29; Mohammed Atta took a bus from Munich to Prague, then flew from Prague to Newark on June 2. Both Atta and Jarrah had already been in the country during the year 2000.

That was how I read Gingrinch’s comment, as reported here: