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Clear Shot: Bamboozled

I call it the Bewilder and Bamboozle campaign - namely the plethora of customs rules and regulations that have come down since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.Since then, border security regulations ha...

I call it the Bewilder and Bamboozle campaign – namely the plethora of customs rules and regulations that have come down since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Since then, border security regulations have become so extensive, difficult to understand and complicated to comply with, that no one in their right mind would even attempt to drive so much as a skid of Gunpowder Tea across the border, much less anything that could have even the remotest actual connection to terrorist activities.

Just the list of acronyms is enough to boggle the mind of any normal person, never mind a crazy-eyed bomber – COAC, C-TPAT, FAST, PAPS, AES, ACE, CBP and the list goes on.

Even people who use these acronyms regularly admit they don’t know what they stand for.

As for terrorists, well, I can’t imagine a more effective tool for keeping them up here in Canada, where they are apparently hiding out behind every maple tree.

After all, terrorists are generally short-term reward type people aren’t they?

Blowing up yourself and everyone in your vicinity is generally perceived, by the terrorism-minded as a kind of Get Into Heaven Free Card (GIHFC), is it not? With 70 virgins to welcome you, or so I’ve been told.

No sirree, a terrorist is no bureaucrat – although an argument could be made for the reverse being true.

Be that as it may, the odd terrorist who wants to get through from Canada to the U.S. will have a heckuva time doing so, thanks to Bewilder and Bamboozle – the secret weapon against terrorism employed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Even legitimate drivers and carriers will be so busy figuring out how to cross the border efficiently and legally that they will have little time to turn to more devious activities.

Like sneaking through customs with a bologna sandwich, for example, during the beef ban.

Thanks to U.S. customs, our neighbours to the south were spared dangerous exposure and possible contamination by the dreaded meat-like (notice I do not say meat) substances found in several truckers’ lunchboxes.

It’s good to know U.S. customs is on the job, fiercely protecting U.S. citizens from other people’s lunches!

But lunch deprivation isn’t where it stops.

Customs officers have taken it upon themselves to also bore drivers who actually manage to meet all the other customs requirements.

A driver unfortunate enough to find him or herself waiting to be processed is treated to a form of mind-numbing audio torture – namely listening to officers discussing the movies they saw on the weekend, the fact that their babies can go potty now, or whether you can get fleas from a dead dog.

Call it the Bewilder, Bamboozle and Bore campaign.

No terrorist likes boredom – in fact, you can pretty well depend on them being pretty excitable, even though they’re not the nice kind of exciting people you’d want to invite over for the weekend.

Which brings us back to why CBP’s Bewilder, Bamboozle and Bore campaign is understandable, if extremely difficult to live with.

Thanks to CBP, crossing the border into the States undetected is so difficult that anyone intending to commit an act of terrorism would have to have a degree of patience and know-how far exceeding the level demonstrated by the individuals behind 9/11, thus making the whole entreprise highly unattractive.

Too bad it has the same effect on law-abiding carriers and drivers.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at 416-442-2091 or by e-mail at


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