Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano riled Canadian officials this week by suggesting that the Sept. 11 hijackers entered the United States through Canada, even though the 9/11 Commission determined they came to the United States from overseas.
The backlash prompted her to release a statement Tuesday night clarifying that she knows the terrorists did not come through Canada, according to the Canadian TV network CTV. In the statement, Napolitano stressed that Canada is a "close ally."
The kind words came after a confusing exchange on border security during a media interview.
Napolitano reportedly was asked to elaborate on comments about giving the Mexican and Canadian borders equal treatment, even though Canada is not experiencing a violent drug war.
"Yes, Canada is not Mexico, it doesn't have a drug war going on, it didn't have 6,000 homicides that were drug-related last year," she said. "Nonetheless, to the extent that terrorists have come into our country or suspected or known terrorists have entered our country across a border, it's been across the Canadian border. There are real issues there."
CTV reported that Napolitano was asked if she was referring to the Sept. 11 hijackers. She said: "Not just those but others as well."
Michael Wilson, Canada's ambassador in Washington said, "Unfortunately, misconceptions arise on something as fundamental as where the 9/11 terrorists came from."
Napolitano later clarified that there have been other instances in which suspected terrorists have tried to cross the Canadian border into the United States.