Thursday, August 17, 2006

Britain Considers Racial Profiling To Find Terror Threats

Originally posted in the comments section of LaShawn Barbers Corner from 8/15/06 in response to Ms. Barbers suggestion that racial profiling was a good idea.

Great Britain Considers Using Racial Profiling To Identify Threats At Airports

My Perspective

Being an African American, I couldn't help but think- what if the targets of this proposed policy were African American? Would Ms. Barber feel the same if all Black people had to be looked at as targets and could not travel without being shaken down, strip searched, watchlisted, treated as criminals, etc??? Keep in mind, the actual Terrorists/Extremists are a small slice of the Muslim community. (although there are plenty of sympathizers).

Black people have been through this already, at various times in this country's history, so I find it hard to condone this for other people- this is the dilemma from an African American point of view. One of the main problems at least (there are several).

I do understand this from a safety point of view. I have experience in this industry, but i'm not sold on the idea of racial profiling as being THE ONLY thing determining who is stopped & searched. It has to be a combination of things that would lead up to "Probable Cause".

The second problem with this approach is that it risks creating what we call tunnel vision...a vacuum that would allow other threats to be missed, while officials are distracted, concentrating on looking for who/what they think a terrorist "looks like".

Muslim extremists/Terrorists come in all shades, from very pale to very dark skinned. Some have Asian/Orient features- slanted eyes, while others do not. Some have Muslim sir names, while others do not. Some are from majority Muslim countries, while others are from minority Muslim countries (so the nationality test is out of the window).

There will be a lot of innocent Mexicans, East Indians, Bangladeshis, Canadians, and U.S. citizens caught up in the dragnet as a result of this kind of approach. And at the same time.. there will be some terrorists who will be missed if this approach is implemented.

Let's not forget Timothy McVeigh, John Walker Lindh, Matt Hale, Richard Reed (and many many others)- terrorists or extremists who were caught over the years, but DO NOT have these targeted physical characteristics, sir names, & so forth.
Then there is the problem of women being used.

Al Qaeda and other groups would love for the UK to switch to this approach. These terror groups would quickly adapt to it and would exploit the many weaknesses inherent in this idea.

This would serve two purposes for these terrorist groups:

#1. It would anger the Muslim community, vindicating and validating the terror groups propaganda, and increasing their pool of potential new recruits. Muslim cooperation (which is vital in the fight against terrorism) might be harder to come by.

#2. It would create many more holes for them to exploit.

I mentioned women being used a moment ago. I encourage you to read about the "Black Widows" of Russia (Chechnya). They have been able to take down several airliners. These women are brutal. They are some of the most ruthless terrorists in Asia/Europe. (Also research why they are so vicious).

The Palestinian extremists have also used women in the past to get by Israeli Security for Suicide bombings.

Al Qaeda has also looked at this idea as a method.
This new approach may be a feel good measure for people who don't know much about security. But from a security point of view, you will be less safe with this plan rather than more safe. It will just provide a false sense of security.

The comprehensive, blanket security is best. NOW I will concede this... that security officials should use more common sense (this is the real problem) when they are conducting their routine searches at airports and elsewhere. Everyone should be required to adhere to the security measures, but more emphasis should be placed on those who would be more likely to be involved in terror activity. Spending too much time on wheelchair bound old ladies is not a very efficient use of time for a screening agent.

I used to run security checkpoints at the St. Louis International Airport, and the rule of thumb for supervisors was to let common sense prevail in those kinds of situations. That concept has been lost in recent years.

Also, the U.S. should increase the use of safe flyer programs where special passes are issued to American citizens who have been vetted- background checked by authorities beforehand. They could then be allowed to enter an express line, decreasing the wait time for other passengers in the main line. Those steps would work better to speed up the lines and they could do so without compromising security.


Listen to the Roundtable Segment from Ed Gordons Public Radio Program from August 16th. The commentators basically echo the view that I presented earlier this week.

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