Mike at the Airport

by Sal on January 6, 2006

in Politics

I received a call from Mike about an hour ago as he was sitting in the airport waiting for his flight to Florida. He relayed that he was tagged for an extensive search and security screening by security. He figured that because he was the person who least fit the profile of a terrorist in the airport, he was immediately flagged down.

Which brings up the point again on why we are doing random searches. The terrorists fit a certain profile, and to not go after that profile is negligence. That’s not to say that we can’t do random searches on other people, but we should be focusing our efforts among people who fit the profile of Islamofacist terrorists.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jewels January 6, 2006 at 8:26 pm

I believe in saving lives and fighting terrorism as much as possible. But, our country, built on Jeffersonian ideals does not call for racial/ethnic /religious profiling, does it? Yes, we need to step national security up, but we cannot compromise our American ideals in the process. If we need more resources to put into national security at airports (in terms of searching), then we need to go for it! However, I feel uncomfortable as an American, to say “That person looks like he/she might be a terrorist, let’s search him.” Think of Dennis Rader…Boy Scout leader, church enthusiast and–serial killer. This may seem like a rare analogy, but that one time that we make the wrong decision could impact many innocent lives!

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Matt January 6, 2006 at 9:03 pm

The Jeffersonian ideals that this country was founded upon are what make this country great… but you must remember that this country would not exist if we and our forefathers were not willing to fight for those ideals. We are in the midst of a war against an enemy that is unlike any other we have ever faced. You seem to be very concerned with the rights of those being searched, but what about the rights of those who could be the targets of a potential attack? Do we not owe it to ourselves and to all Americans to use everything at our disposal to apprehend these terrorists before they can strike? We aren’t talking about imprisoning or detaining people based solely upon their ethnic background… it’s only a more extensive search. Also, it is important to note that ethnicity is only one of many factors that security personnel could use to find someone who fits the terrorist profile. As Abraham Lincoln said, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact”. Sometimes it is necessary to make small concessions with our personal freedoms in order to survive. In this case, these small concessions could save hundreds, thousands, or even millions of lives.

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Sal January 6, 2006 at 11:29 pm

Police officers in this country profile every day. For example, if they are tracking a serial killer, they will usually look for a single white male, who lives alone, etc. PRofilers can tell a lot about a person by the particulars and motives of a crime. That is not to say we should discriminate and act with prejudice against someone just for being an Arab. But we should be dilligent when searching at airports and other high security areas of looking for people who fit the profile of Islamofacist terrorits, whom we are at war with at the moment. In all the Islamofacist terrorist attacks from the last 30 years, the profile has been of a young, single, Arab male, who has very few ties to the community. Airline terrorism has usually involved one-way late purchased tickets. Avoiding the use of the tool of Profiling just for the sake of political correctness is negligence. Additional searches at airports for people who fit the profile are only a minor inconvenience, and are a better alternative to having more planes fly into buildings.

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Cannon January 10, 2006 at 1:14 am

Normally I agree with you guys, so it’s a shame that this is the time I throw in my two cents. Nevertheless, the argument for profiling is the wrong one to make. Not that I think profiling is some moral or ideological wrong that we need to avoid. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

My critique of profiling is that it is ineffective. For anyone who thinks that all terrorists are Arab males, I have three words: John Walker Lindh. If people who fit only one certain profile are searched, terrorist groups will find other misguided individuals to do their bidding.

This is already happening today. Just this past month, authorities learned that a November 9 suicide bombing of U.S. military patrol was the work of Muriel Degauque, a Belgian woman who was raised Roman Catholic. (Police: Belgian woman believed to be Iraq suicide bomber). To what profile does she belong?

I am not suggesting that law enforcement should only search people at random. Certainly, intelligence can help us ferret out the specific threats. Nevertheless, limiting our searches to Arab men only teaches one lesson to the terrorists: don’t look the part.

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Matt January 10, 2006 at 7:28 am

No, not all terrorists fit the standard terrorist profile… However, there are certain characteristics that most terrorists have in common. Without a set of common characteristics, law enforcement wouldn’t be able to develop a profile, right? Yes, it is a strategy that the terrorists could adapt to, but does that mean we shouldn’t bother using it? I have a feeling the terrorists would not meet with the same success recruiting white Irish Catholics to blow themselves up as they are having with Middle Eastern Muslims.

An analogous example… A woman is attacked, she gets a good look at her attacker, and she sits down with a police sketch artist. Should the police release the skecth to the public in an attempt to get some leads? With the same logic, you wouldn’t release the sketch just because the attacker will change his appearance when he sees his face on the news.

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Sal January 10, 2006 at 7:42 am

I think you misunderstand my point, cannon. I’m not saying that we should utilize profiling at the exclusion of being vigilant against those who don’t fit the profile. I’m also not saying that race should be the sole factor of profiling, or even the predominant one. What I am saying is that it should not be exclusionary as an investigative tool. Criminal profiling has proven itself to be a useful tool in Law Enforcement (see http://www.criminalprofiling.ch/introduction.html for a background on criminal profiling). What I am arguing is that to say race must be ignored when profiling is negligence for the sake of political correctness.

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cannon January 10, 2006 at 9:24 am

Frankly, I have no doubt that race is being used to some extent. I have confidence that law enforcement is doing their job in an effective way (4+ years without an attack attest to that). Just because Mike was stopped and searched does not mean another “more likely” terrorist got the pass.

My point is this: this is a war between ideologies, not races. While the Islamofacists (as Sal described them) are majority Arab, not all of them are. While stopping Arabs may get MOST terrorists, I don’t want to let even one slip by.

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Mike January 10, 2006 at 9:34 am

For the record, it was not a traumatic experience. I actually enjoyed getting through the line more quickly.

I agree with Sal. If you do not want one terrorist to slip through then it makes sense to provide additional security to the group which produces the overwhelming majority of them. As for the example of Lindh, looking at his picture tells me he would be in a profiled group.

I agree with Cannon in one respect. Other groups should not be excluded from scrutiny for the very reasons he offers, namely changes in appearance, recruting from different groups, etc. My disagreement lies in the naive belief that profiling would be ineffective. The profile would also not be limited to Arabs, but those from the Middle East.

Non Middle Eastern Islamofascists are few in number. Cannon’s exceptions actually prove the rule.

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Ryan January 16, 2006 at 6:41 pm

Solid.

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