Of Pat Downs, Scanners and Profiling

Bernie Goldberg asks the eminently sensible question, “And What Exactly is Wrong with Profiling?

My trip on El Al comes to mind because of what we’ve been hearing recently about the “underwear bomber” who tried to blow up a Northwest flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day.  By now we all know the story:  his father, a prominent banker in Nigeria warned the U.S. State Department in Lagos that his son was becoming a religious fanatic and might be dangerous.  His travel history included a trip to Yemen.  He bought a one-way ticket.  He paid for it in cash.

Did any of this set off alarms?  Nope.  Too bad he wasn’t wearing a sign that said, “I’m a terrorist and I plan to blow up your airplane.”  But frankly, I’m not sure those eagle-eyed authorities would have noticed that, either.

When I look at some of the alternatives to profiling, such as full body scanners, profiling starts looking a lot more attractive. Authorities know who is more likely to commit acts of terror. Patting down five-year-olds is a feel-good measure designed to make us feel as though everything possible is being done to keep us safe, but that actually leaves us more vulnerable because it diverts finite resources away from actual sources of danger.

The United States government owes it to the rest of us to do whatever is within their power to keep us safe. If that includes profiling – and I believe it does – let’s get on with the program.

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2 Comments

Filed under Terrorism

2 responses to “Of Pat Downs, Scanners and Profiling

  1. You know, I have been thinking about it lately and honestly, why are we even letting people into this country from “state sponsors of terror”? If we found out just a small percentage of the people from a couple of countries carried a terrible commutable disease we would have no problem taking extreme measures.

    Meanwhile these nations SUPPORT with their economies, the destruction of the United States. Wouldn’t it be a better message to their citizens that they need to change their governments if we just cut them off?

    Instead we have to get patted down, take off our shoes, and now get looked at naked? Where are our rights? Their governments are out to destroy us and we are spending all this extra energy figuring out how to get them in safely. WTH?

  2. What a shame this guy has to take the fall for the industrial complex profits.

    The event has opened doors to so many violations of privacy and given the govt the excuse they need to further take control of the public.

    The sheeples never cease to amaze me for their apathy.

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