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"We Like To Think People Obey The Law"
That's what the customs guy said about the self-service border check-in (!!) for boaters coming from Canada to the US. Susan Taylor Martin writes in the St. Pete Times:

ST. LAWRENCE RIVER, U.S.-Canadian border - Call it the "honor system" of combating international crime and terrorism.

When private boaters enter U.S. waters from Canada, chances are there won't be any U.S. Customs officials there to meet them. Instead, they are supposed to go to a videophone - like the one at the city marina in Ogdensburg, N.Y. - and give the home port, boat registration number, the names and citizenship of all passengers and a list of alcohol or anything else acquired outside the country.

It's even more basic on the Canadian side.

At Rockport, a picturesque village west of Ogdensburg, the tiny Canadian customs office is open only in summer and only in daylight. Private boaters arriving from the United States at other times are directed to a nearby pay phone booth where they are supposed to report in using a toll-free number.

If this sounds like a system a smuggler, or terrorist, could easily exploit, that's because it is.

"We like to think people obey the law," says Kevin Corsaro of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. But, he acknowledges, "it's hard to guarantee it."

Kevin, a little prediction: Good little American girls like me will pick up the phone and declare their purchases -- down to their last piece of Bubble-Yum. People named Osama, Al-Waasi, and Mahmud will not -- down to their last suitcase of anthrax and detonators.

Posted by aalkon at August 22, 2006 11:44 AM

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If someone is rich enough to own a boat, that must mean that they are a good person! (gag) It follows the same bias towards those with money as the self-regulation a lot of industries are allowed to do (which means unregulated).

Posted by: Canada at August 22, 2006 8:37 AM

I wonder how the situation differs at our southern borders.

Posted by: smurfy at August 22, 2006 12:04 PM

That's the price of living in a big ol' free country, folks. You can find probably tens of thousands of weak points in our perimeter, and I really don't see any way around them, short of Castro's solution: Only a select few get to own boats. Cuban fishermen go to sea on inner tubes, which they propel with their own flippered feet.

I live near Lake St. Clair, and we cross the border all the time when we're out sailing. We've never docked in Canada, but I know Detroit boaters pop over for dinner and other recreation all the time, and I don't think their experience is radically different from the one the story describes.

Posted by: Nance at August 22, 2006 6:44 PM

What Nance said.

Posted by: Crid at August 22, 2006 7:30 PM

>>I wonder how the situation differs at our southern borders.

The instructions on the phones are in Spanish.

Posted by: Gary S. at August 22, 2006 8:08 PM

I've thrown up on boats on Lake St. Clair, so I know it well. The thing is, life's a bit different now than it was in the days I was hurling over the edge, and if terrorists can learn to fly planes, they can learn to drive a boat.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 22, 2006 10:06 PM

To be on the safe side, maybe all boating lessons should be banned, just so that you don't teach someone that could be a terrorist. Or maybe all the borders should be closed and everyone should go home and hide under their beds and never come out.

Posted by: Chris at August 23, 2006 6:59 AM

what chris said.

the bottom line is that individual citizens have to be on the watch for suspicious behavior and to report it (and not freak out like that bunch of english pansies).

hire half the country to spy on the other half? no more unemployment, or privacy enjoyment.

Posted by: g*mart at August 23, 2006 10:14 PM

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