Who's lying? The iPad owner or the border guard?

Canadian man refutes border agency's explanation for having let him cross


One or the other isn't telling the truth - they're flat-out lying -- this much we know for certain.

Perhaps by now you've seen the story about the Canadian freelance photographer, who having left his passport at home, was allowed to cross the border into the U.S. anyway offering nothing but his driver's license (normally not enough) and a photograph of said passport (absolutely not allowed) that he displayed to the border guard on his iPad.

The story has garnered worldwide headlines, coverage which in my opinion has been a bit overblown, no doubt at least in part because the passport photo was proffered on a "magical" iPad instead of, say, an ordinary laptop or smartphone (trust me on this; I know the mind of the journalist).

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But now I find myself more hooked into the tempest because I'm always fascinated by stories in which it's obvious that one party is stone-cold lying, but you can't be absolutely certain as to which one. Here I'd bet lots of good money that it's the border guard (or his butt-covering higher-ups) wearing the burning pants. But the lie - presuming it is a lie - is so easily refuted (if not disproven) and potentially job-threatening that I'm left wondering how anyone could possibly be so stupid as to tell it.

And if it's the border crosser, Martin Reisch of Montreal, who is lying, well, this entire story has been nothing but a hoax because there would be nothing remarkable about the crossing, unless perhaps Reisch had slid across the border sitting on his iPad.

Here's what a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol spokesperson told Wired.com: "The assertion that a traveler was admitted into the U.S. using solely a scanned image of his passport on an iPad is categorically false. In this case, the individual had both a driver's license and birth certificate (emphasis mine), which the CBP officer used to determine identity and citizenship in order to admit the traveler into the country."

Reisch never denied that his driver's license played a role here, but that license is the standard-issue variety and not the "enhanced" version one needs to cross the border absent a passport. What he does deny, also categorically, is that he gave the guard his birth certificate. Here's what he tweeted:


See, someone is lying. And, as noted previously, I can't imagine that it's Reisch.

But that means the border guard, upon being told that his decision to wave through the iPad guy was making a major media ruckus and being asked what he could possibly have been thinking, thought for a moment and said: "But the guy had a birth certificate, too."

Boss: "Really?"

Guard: "Really."

Boss: "Are you sure? Because that's what I'm going to tell my boss, and that's what she's going to tell her boss, and then that's what we're going to tell the press."

Guard: "Mother's grave."

 And the guard apparently thought this was going to help get him out of this pickle better than had he simply gone all George Costanza and asked, "Was that wrong?"

Instead it looks like he violated the first rule of holes. And if that proves to be the truth, here's hoping his resume is closer at hand than Reisch's birth certificate.

(Note: This post has been changed to reflect the fact that the spokesperson quoted by Wired is from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.)

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