The Power and Pitfalls of Profiling

Those of you who have been around here at America’s Right for a while, long before even last year’s redesign nonetheless this one, know that I used to be an uninformed liberal Democrat. My awakening happened during the course of a single afternoon back in 2001 when I purchased and read, cover to cover, Bernie Goldberg’s fantastically phenomenal powerhouse of a book, Bias. (I’ve since purchased and handed out at least a half-dozen copies.)

A few minutes ago, Goldberg published a column at his own eponymous Web site, bernardgoldberg.com, dealing with the power and perceived pitfalls of profiling as it pertains to air travel and security.  The commentary is titled And What Exactly Is Wrong With Profiling? and, like with most of everything Bernie Goldberg writes, it is absolutely correct.

When I got to the gate, after going through security like everybody else, I was pulled aside for a second security check, this time by El Al. And this time they went through my luggage before they let me on the plane.

Did I like it at the time? Not especially. Did I feel safer flying on El Al to a part of the world where bad things happen way too often rather than on some other airline? Definitely.

Call it anything you want, but there’s no way around the fact that I was profiled. Israelis, who know a little bit about terrorism, don’t cringe when it comes to profiling. Let’s just say no one will confuse Israeli security agents with the ACLU.

But why me? I was different. Almost everyone on the flight was an Israeli. I was an American. Almost everybody on the flight was going home. I was merely changing planes in Tel Aviv, en route to Amman, Jordan.

That the standard response from our federal government is to inconvenience 300 million American travelers in an attempt to prevent a few dozen foreign terrorists from lighting their dangly bits on fire does not show thoroughness or preparedness as folks like DHS Director Janet Napolitano might maintain, but rather is the hallmark of a bureaucracy and system lacking focus and rank with ineffectiveness.

As I said yesterday in The System Worked? Wrong.  The Bomb Didn’t., we are not only inconveniencing hundreds of millions of travelers but also continue to be one step behind the terrorists who want to kill us, and we will stay that way until we stop dancing this terrorist two-step and start going toe-to-toe with these people.  As I pointed out yesterday, Richard Reid tried to blow up his shoes so we take off our shoes now, bombers planned to bring down airliners with liquid explosives so we pack tiny bottles of shampoo now, and Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab tried to blow up his scrotum from underneath a blanket so we have to keep our laps clear now — what happens when, as I put it yesterday, the next batch of terrorists decide to Barney Frank the explosive material du jour?  Regardless of whether the airports will be the only place where pre-retirement-age men can receive prostate exams after ObamaCare comes into effect, we can’t keep on doing this.  Like so much else our federal government does, it’s unsustainable.

So the answer is profiling.  Is it inconvenient for those profiled?  Sure.  Does it run afoul of the tenets of political correctness?  You bet.  But there has been a common thread–radical Islam–running through the terrorists, failed and successful, in recent years, and we should be using that common thread to focus our preventative efforts on those who wish to do us harm.

Such a lack of focus, fostered and facilitated by political correctness run wild, is what gave us Nidal Malik Hasan and dead soldiers at Fort Hood.  And it could have cost lives here as well.  Certainly, if the attack on the USS Cole or the World Trade Center or the Pentagon or the rail systems in London and Madrid or the nightclub in Bali or in any other place were carried out by anybody but radical Muslims, we should look at other parties, we should look for other faces and features when weighing threats against our own.  Right now, however, just as there’s no sense looking for a red Corvette convertible if an Amber Alert describes a green and brown Winnebago, there’s no sense wasting time, resources and credibility capital frisking nuns and red-headed children and walker-bound septuagenarians while single Yemeni Muslims who paid for their one-way tickets in cash stand just ahead in line at the gate.

Bernie puts it significantly better (but that’s why he gets the big bucks):

So what’s the solution?  No system is 100 percent foolproof.  Granted.  But profiling is a good place to start.  And not just profiling anyone who seems especially nervous and is acting a little too fidgety.  We need to do that, for sure.  But we also need profiling – I pause here so that any liberal with a heart condition can get his medicine before continuing – we need profiling … based …on …what …you …look like.  Young men traveling with passports issued, for example, in Nigeria, Yemen, or anyplace in the Arab world, should get special attention.   They should be profiled!   A 23-year old man from Beirut is not the same as a 78-year old woman from Peoria.  They do not pose the same potential threat to our safety.   That strikes me as beyond obvious.  Besides, if liberals are willing to turn our economy upside down on the chance –no matter how slight – that global warming may harm us in a hundred years or so, they ought to be willing to profile potential terrorists who might to try to blow up an airplane in an hour or so – no matter how slight that chance.

But liberals will say, “What happens when the terrorists recruit a blond, blue-eyed Swedish woman to carry the bomb?  What good will your profiling do then?”  Good question.  When that happens, we should start profiling Swedish women, too.

But for now, we can be assured of just one thing:  if you thought going through security at the airport was a great big pain in the ass before the “underwear bomber” surfaced, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

And if I’m correct about the next batch of wanna-be terrorists stashing the PETN where the Islamic crescent don’t shine, that last sentence will definitely ring true.

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Comments

  1. Nun of That says:

    I LOVE the photo. Love it.

  2. On High says:

    Common Sense
    …R.I.P….

    alas, humankind, was a failed experiment.

    Love,

    God

  3. Lcegala says:

    I smell a business opportunity here…

    Conservative Airlines (where profiling is expected, and you are expected to arrive intact)

    Let the liberals ride on their PC airlines.

  4. Jeff Schreiber says:

    That’s funny — a bunch of folks I know were discussing the same thing. Came to the conclusion, though, that a boutique airline would be far too expensive for business travelers to use.

  5. Boston Blackie says:

    Just like when returning from Jamaica, customs officers look for nervous passengers. They are usually bringing ganja back with them. We need to be more like the Isrealis and let it be known what we plan on doing when you arrive at the airport and meet certain criteria. When was the last time El Al had a terrorist try to light themselves and everyone else on the flight on fire. They move on to the airlines with less security. My answer is – don’t like, find another airlines. Let’s start calling a spade a spade and stop inconveniencing toddlers and the elderly just to prove we are “politically correct”.
    A family member is a flight attendant so I hear first hand what they CAN NOT do just so they do not ruffle certain people’s feathers. Example, Richard Reed was pulled out of line for meeting certain criteria. Instead of turning him away, he was put up in a 4 star hotel in Paris by American Airlines for “inconveniencing” him and told to come back the next day. When he did, he was shuttle to the front of the boarding line, apologized to AGAIN, and offered a first class seat. One last red flag besides the ticket in cash and no luggage should have been when he declined the offer and requested a window seat over the area where the fuel tanks were. Un – freezin – believable, as Jeff would say.

  6. elspeth says:

    I just read headlines and captions at HotAir.

    One says, Ft. Hood Cleric blessed Flight 253 stating bomber was “tip of the Muslim spear.” Turns out it’s dull?

    Another says undi-bomb made by the top AQ bombmaker in Yemen. And, failed?

    We’re not dealing with the sharpest pencils in the box, so how do these guys flourish?

  7. Rob in Katy says:

    Jeff, someone already did the butt-plug thing. Had some play-dough, wire and something else up there. The speculation among many “haters” was that it was a dry run for testing something similar to the ‘splod-a-dope that tried to kill the Saudi Prince with at butt-bomb. When then big one comes, there should be no trails for the enablers, just a nice clean summary execution. We have gone well past incompetence and complacency and are rapidly approaching enabling.
    When the barbarians are at our throat, I will show them no mercy and I will show none to those that opened the gates and ushered them in!

  8. Chuck in San Diego says:

    An affiliate of al Qaeda is already packing things where the sun doesn’t shine….and it isn’t fudge. On Aug 28th of this year (four months ago…an eon in most people’s minds) the Saudi prince in charge of counter-terrorism of The Kingdom was almost killed by a member of al-Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) in a meeting under false pretenses.

    http://www.securitymanagement.com/news/saudi-suicide-bomber-hid-ied-his-anal-cavity-006178

  9. Rob in Katy says:

    Would these full body scanners show up a butt-suprise? I am wondering if this would solve anything or be just another stupid idea like limiting potty breaks. What is it going to take: body scanners, x-ray, sniffer-machines, sniffer-dogs! Just saying it seems to be a big expense and bigger inconvenience for 100′s of millions so that a few can keep flying, know what I mean Vern?

  10. Psydog says:

    We should be profiling, makes great sense. I have been traveling in uniform since 9/11 and have been subjected to a close scrutiny search. Now in light of the Maj Hasan incident I will probably get searched again even though I don’t look at all like I’m Middle Eastern. The uniform will attract the attention. Part of the reason I wear my uniform is to send the message that there is a soldier on board and to assure anyone that asks if at anytime someone attempts a terrorist act on the flight I’m on I will do my damnedest to see that they fail.

  11. 2010, 2012 says:

    anyone who has any respect at all for life should never mind any inconvenience of profiling especially in these times. and lets face it the majority of these people fit that profile so why spend more time looking at what will be the wrong person 95% of the time?

    people from these nations especially should welcome being profiled if it helps to deter terrorism.

  12. Boston Blackie says:

    Good article discussing Obamama and the admin’s response to the latest attack.

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2009/12/29/obama-botches-response-terror-threat/

    While Yeman authorities say there are more to come, once again the Anointed One calls it an isolated incident then goes back to surfing and golfing. Anyone else notice he was more concerned about the friend’s child who was hurt than the 200 passengers who were almost killed on the holiest Christian day of the year(no coincidence). BTW, did the Obamamas attend Christmas services this year, or are they STILL deciding on a church to attend.

    I now know what Bush Derangement Syndrome felt like.

  13. Semper Fi says:

    Boston Blackie (7:43), he needs not a church, as we are to worship him. Let him enjoy his few weeks in the place of his birth.

  14. Boston Blackie says:

    Semper Fi, If you are to BELIEVE that is his birthplace. My husband was born there (before it was a state) and it is very easy to get a copy of his birth certificate. Don’t know why it is so hard for Barry to produce his!?!

  15. TheOldMan says:

    Not only profiling, I also think that the feds should be in charge of physical airport security but each airline should be in charge of its passenger security. A profit-driven company has way more incentive to figure what works than federal union drones.

  16. john feeny says:

    this may have been barney`s endgame all along. agenda revealed. barney`s gonna be racking up lots of frequent flier miles.

  17. My father has a good friend who is an international pilot. He says traveling to Tel Aviv is his favorite because the Israelis know how to get it done. In his own country he is required to wear multiple ID’s/badges and remove his shoes…..when really, if he wanted to kill people, he could do so with the flip of a switch. Talk about asinine.

    Everytime our TSA steps up security, the terrorists win a victory. If they can’t destroy us, they will inflict fear. The time for profiling was yesterday.

  18. Amy says:

    The whole system we have right now just doesn’t work.

    I was listening to the former head of El Al this morning and he makes a lot of sense. We should take a clue from them on how to handle airport security. We should probably just hire him to set up our system.

    I looked up some info about what they do and I really think it’s the way to go. They aren’t concerned with finding weapons or explosive devices, they’re focused on finding terror suspects through their methods. It is much more effective.

    They have armed guards at every counter, double doors on the cockpit, and undercover agents on every plane.

    “El Al uses rigorous computerised passenger profiling systems, which apparently looks for anomalies in a traveller’s itinerary, finances and personal profile.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2097352.stm

    We need to wake up soon. Why don’t we even have an Air Marshall on every flight? Why do we waste time frisking Grandma before her flight?

    There’s a pretty good article here:

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