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Profiling as a security measure
Posted by: McQ on Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Rubin Navarette feels racial profiling is "un-American" .

First of all, the term "racial profiling" is a loaded term. It hearkens back to the days when people were excluded from society and opportunity -and worse- simply because of the color of their skin.

Secondly, it tends to bias the argument against doing what most people would consider to be common sense. As you'll see, it is an obvious, but unwarranted, attempt to shame. Navarette uses such language in his appeal:
I still believe that Americans should strive to be fair and tolerant and respectful of diversity, and that we shouldn't issue blanket indictments. It's just that now, I bet, most Americans aren't in the mood to hear that message.
I believe Americans should strive for all of that as well. What I don't believe is that should even matter in fighting a threat to the safety of other people.

Where it becomes absurd in its application is in the argument that security should screen people who are obviously not a security threat in its name. "Fair and tolerant and respectful" treatment of "diversity" is advanced as more important in the writer's world view than focused common sense security work. That's just stupid.

And that is why most Americans aren't in the mood to hear "that message". It is counter-intuitive.

This isn't a threat to 'diversity', it is a response to a specific threat. A threat which, to this point, has almost exclusively been created by men of a certain age, from a certain region of the world and of a certain ethnicity.

To put this in context, if a bank robbery had been carried out by a white man in his 40s driving a black Dodge, would it make sense then to stop a black man in his 70s driving a white Chevy? It would certainly be "respectful" of "diversity" (especially if we also ensured we stopped an Asian woman in her 30s in a green Toyota) but it would be absolutely stupid in terms of catching the bank robber.

Speaking of Americans in general again, he says:
They don't want to hear about how unfair it is that Muslim Americans — even those who have no ties to terrorism — are routinely singled out for additional scrutiny and subjected to resentment and prejudice at the hands of their countrymen. They probably don't want to hear about how we mustn't sacrifice our civil liberties — or anyone else's — or paint all Muslim Americans with the same broad brush. And they certainly don't want to hear that the reason we have to avoid doing all this isn't just to protect the rights of ethnic groups and the personal safety of individuals, but also the spirit of a great country.
That is simply nonsense. Muslim Americans? This has nothing to do with Muslims as a whole. It has to do with terrorists who are Muslim. And yes, to this point, that is a consistent part of any profile. Since 9/11, show me a single person who has attacked the US and UK who hasn't been of or professed faith in that religion. So what should law enforcement do, ignore that fact in the name of "fairness"? Should we ensure that we include Christian 4 year olds in any secondary security search while also ensuring obvious Muslims are ignored?

Look at the UK. What faith and ethnic background were the 7/7 bombers? How about the vast majority of the present plotters? Who has declared jihad on the West? So what should officials in the UK do, screen Anglican Scots as closely as they do Muslim Pakistanis?

Does that make sense? To this point, have Anglican Scots plotted to blow airliners out of the sky or attacked the London subway system?

And further, tell me what "civil liberties" are being abandoned to focus searches among the most likely perpetrators in an airport?

A person chooses to fly. That person understands that may entail secondary scrutiny in the name of security and chooses to undergo that if necessary. They accept that as the price of air travel. Given the matter of choice necessary to end up in an airline security search, what liberties are being forcefully taken from these people?

What Americans are really asking is for those charged with our security to use common sense in the pursuit of that security and focus their limited resources on profiles which most closely match those who have, in the past, actually posed a threat or carried out an attack.

Appeals to fairness and diversity are red herrings. This isn't about either. It is about a common sense approach to better ensuring the safety of airline passengers. It isn't a "civil liberties" threat.

As in any good police work, ethnicity or race is a single factor used in combination with others to narrow the search criteria to the most likely threat (or perpetrator) and make the search more efficient (and, hopefully, successful). It isn't exclusively used any more than focusing in on people who appear nervous, wear bulky clothing, carry a backpack or pace, or have one-way tickets paid for in cash, etc, is. But in combination, they should indeed raise red flags for security personnel. And we should encourage, not discourage, good police work that uses those sorts of techniques.

Obviously the profile could change over time. Terrorists could and probably would attempt to recruit people who would not fit the major profile. And that should be considered and planned for as well. That is an intelligence function and one which requires constant monitoring and updating. But to presumptively refuse to do what makes sense because it violates some addled notion of "fairness" and "tolerance" or "diversity" simply points to how bankrupt "political correctness" has made some people.

Aerodynamics and gravity don't give a fig about any of that stuff. When, in the name of "tolerance" and "diversity", the obvious suspect is passed over and allowed on the plane - while the 4 year old is searched - they'll again ruthlessly demonstrate that the ascendancy of such misplaced and misrepresented concerns over practical profiling have real and deadly consequences.
 
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It has to do with terrorists who are Muslim. And yes, to this point, that is a consistent part of any profile. Show me a single person who has attacked the US and UK who hasn’t been of or professed faith in that religion.
Were Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski Muslims?
 
Written By: OrneryWP
URL: http://
All right, fair point - I’ll modify it to say "since 9/11" ...
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Were Timothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski Muslims?
Good point, but they were individuals acting on their own. McQ’s post is more about an organized group of people that are actively working together to accomplish their deeds. And the members of that ’group’ have enough similarity to each other that it makes sense to profile for them.
 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
God, certain segments in this country must have shrines to McVeigh and Kaczynski, since they provide the fig leafs of cover to those who oppose profiling.

Profiling in a smarter and more limited way certainly does make more sense than stopping every single person.
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
If I want to catch fish I cast my bait where the fish are. When someone tells me I must put my bait into that mudpuddle I look askance at them and shake my head. These people must be nuts-there’s no fish there.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://
Let it be noted that only in the presence of modern liberalism is it necessary to post such an appeal to common sense when lives are at stake. Idiots.
 
Written By: Robert Fulton
URL: http://
I dont quite grasp the civil liberties being violated by being searched at airport security. I look at it this way, if the govt didnt require federal aiport security screeners (and they probably shouldn’t), do you think the private airlines wouldnt have their own screeners searching luggage and persons?

Or is the objection just that the govt is doing it? I don’t really have a problem with that, but I do believe that private screeners would do a better job, and federalizing the job of airport security was a dumb move, not from a moral standpoint, but from a utilitarian standpoint.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
I think this is the most important point here:
This isn’t a threat to ’diversity’, it is a response to a specific threat.
When we have specific descriptions of criminals, we accept profiling. If a person matching Description X commits a felony, police will stop and question people matching Description X.

I think it makes a lot of sense to think of this, not in terms of ’racial profiling’ for potential crimes, but in terms of checking people who match the description of known terrorists or terrorist groups. As McQ says, that is not sufficient because those groups can and will adjust their profiles, but it’s a step.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
If you’re going to pursue a utility arguement, then profiling should be your enemy.

Your bank robbery analogy focuses on after-the-event effort — there is an identifable suspect in a defined proximity. To make the analogy match to the airline security problem, it would be more reasonable to say that we think most bank robberies are conducted by white males between 25 and 40. Therefore, we will stop and search all white males in that age group who choose to go near a bank. There is a world of difference between these two scenarios.

That aside, the fundamental problem with profiling is defining the profile. You need it to be descriptive of the reasonable suspects without being so broad that you’re looking through an enormous population.

The profile of arab-looking men in the ages of 20-35, defines a huge group of people. Millions of people world-wide, and hundreds of thousands of people in the US. It’s also artificially narrow — don’t forget Jose Padilla. He was of hispanic descent. Does that mean we should expand the pool to include hispanic men? Look at Israel and Chechnya, the terrorists have shown a willingness to recruit outside the brackets described above, bringing in women. The pool just doubled in size again.

Even if you decide that you are going to stick with the first pool (arab men, 20-35), your pool is so big and the number of suspects is so small (dozens or less at any given time), that profiling is not a useful tool. If there are 500,000 people who fit the profile pool and 20 of them are bad guys, that means only 0.004% are bad guys. And don’t forget we’ve agreed to deliberately exclude groups of people who have demonstrated a willingness and desire to engage in terroristic activity.

This means your plan is to search the 99.996% of the population that is innocent in the hopes that you will find the 0.004% who are bad? These searches are done by people who are human — they get tired and make mistakes. Do you really want to count on this brute force strategy to find the bad guys? The profiling argument is an implicit admission that these security procdures are hopeless — they are an effort to shrink the search pool to more manageable levels. The problem is that they don’t shrink the pool enough, and it’s unlikely they can shrink the pool enough.

The reality is that airport security is a form of theater. It’s designed to reassure, not protect. I’m not too big on humiliating and inconveniencing hundreds of thousands or millions of people, just to reassure the public that Something’s Being Done (TM).




 
Written By: Rommel
URL: http://
Your bank robbery analogy focuses on after-the-event effort — there is an identifable suspect in a defined proximity.
It wasn’t offered as an analogy, but instead as an illustration of why profiling has a legitimate use.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Point 1. Richard Reid’s shoes were not noticed by airport security.

Point 2. Young ethnic-looking men may be the most likely demographic group to carry out an attack. They are also the best source of information. Profiling easily leads to demonization, which is precisely what we need to avoid.

If western Muslims were really all that angry at the West, the US would have been hit a lot more often — subway bombings, train bombings, sniper attacks on cars stuck in rush hour traffic, etc. So we can be confident that the number of people ready to launch terror attacks is small.

Demonization of that ethnic group will (a) push more people into being willing to launch attacks against the US; and (b) dry up critical sources. There is a LOT to be said for demonstrating, through universal airport screening, that we’re all in this together.

p.s. I am absolutely astonished that a libertarian would argue that one surrenders the right to be free from intrusive government searches by choosing to fly. What other choices that I might make in the course of the day allow the government to exercise its powers over my liberties?


 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I am absolutely astonished that a libertarian would argue that one surrenders the right to be free from intrusive government searches by choosing to fly.
When you buy a ticket to a baseball game, you agree not to bring any prohibited items into the stadium (like beer) and the seller of the ticket reserves the right to search any container or bag you bring in to ensure you’re not violating that rule.

No government at all. Is your argument that, given the rules they’ve stipulated as a condition for the price of admission (stipulations you agree to with the purchase of the ticket), that you arbitrarily have the right to refuse to follow them and, additionally, the right to refuse their search if requested? Are they somehow infringing on your "civil liberties"?

After all, you agreed to their rules when you bought the ticket. How is the airline ticket any different, given you know the possibility exists when you purchase it that those searches may be directed at you?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I am absolutely astonished that a libertarian would argue that one surrenders the right to be free from intrusive government searches by choosing to fly.
Did the owners of the airplane give up the right not to be blown to pieces because you want to fly somewhere?

How about the other passengers?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
I am absolutely astonished that a libertarian would argue that one surrenders the right to be free from intrusive government searches by choosing to fly.
Francis, would it make a difference if it wasnt the govt doing the screening and searching, but private screeners hired by the airlines? Please take look at my earlier post above where I explore this.
 
Written By: ChrisB
URL: http://
Francis, would it make a difference if it wasnt the govt doing the screening and searching, but private screeners hired by the airlines? Please take look at my earlier post above where I explore this.
And then try carrying a gun on board and declaring your 2nd amendment right to be sacrosanct.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
The profile of arab-looking men in the ages of 20-35, defines a huge group of people. Millions of people world-wide, and hundreds of thousands of people in the US.
How many of them are getting on planes flying to the US?
This means your plan is to search the 99.996% of the population that is innocent in the hopes that you will find the 0.004% who are bad?
It means that if the airlines are attacked by white males in their 30’s with brown hair and blue eyes, I pretty much plan on getting the ’ole body cavity search when I want to fly. I’ll plan accordingly and where clean under wear and make sure I wash up. Yeah it would suck, but I’d be more angry at the people who did the bad things than at the people who are trying to STOP the bad things.

Don’t like it? Don’t fly.

 
Written By: meagain
URL: http://
Young, white males—call the ACLU.
A more specific profile of a serial killer has been presented by Apsche (1993) stating that most are white males in their twenties or thirties, who target strangers near their homes or places of work. "According to criminologist Eric Hickey, who has assembled the most extensive database on demography of serial murder states that, 88% of serial killers are male, 85% are Caucasian, and the average age when they claim their first victim is usually around 28.5.
Rommel said:
don’t forget Jose Padilla. He was of hispanic descent.
To suggest that profiling young Middle Eastern will automatically exclude others is wrong. Western terror experts have long been talking about the Jihadi’s recruiting terrorists that do not fit the typical profile. Indeed, two of the 24 arrested in the lastest UK bomb plot were English converted to Islam.
 
Written By: tom scott
URL: http://

Or is the objection just that the govt is doing it?
Of course.

I don’t really have a problem with that, but I do believe that private screeners would do a better job,...
It doesn’t matter which would "do a better job". The person who decides is whoever owns the plane.

And then try carrying a gun on board and declaring your 2nd amendment right to be sacrosanct.
You don’t have a "second amendment right" to carry a gun on someone else’s property if they don’t want guns on their property.
 
Written By: Manny Davis
URL: http://
re: consenting to searches. I’m well aware that the 4th Amendment contains reasonableness language, and I don’t think that the TSA is violating my constitutional rights. However, as a relatively new reader here, I’m a little surprised at the willingness of a group of relatively hard-core libertarians to consent to government-run searches. (ChrisB — yes, having the govt do it makes all the difference.)

re: profiling. Given the minuscule number of terrorists, profiling will create an enormous number of false positives. If there were no secondary consequences I could live with that inefficiency. But there are critical secondary consequences — false negatives (Richard Reid) and societal demonization.

 
Written By: Francis
URL: http://
I support profiling. It just needs to be the right kind of profiling. Israel engaged in ethnic profiling. That’s how it allowed three Japanese terrorists to shoot up their airport. They didn’t fit the profile and so they got a free pass. The British shot a Brazilian electrician because he fit the profile of dark complexion. Poorly done profiling can actually make people less safe.

On the other hand if men are 1000 times more likely to commit any act of random violence than women. Perhaps only women should be allowed to buy firearms or ammunition. Perhaps men, traveling in groups of men, should be subjected to increased security. Given the finite amount of resources available, perhaps we would be safer it they put men a separate line at the airports so that they can be searched more thoroughly. As it is, I’m sure they spend more time searching women than the do men.

Just a thought. Would you guys support profiling if you were the ones being profiled?


PLO from Tokyo
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
However, as a relatively new reader here, I’m a little surprised at the willingness of a group of relatively hard-core libertarians to consent to government-run searches.
As opposed to what, private searches? What difference does who is doing the search make in this instance? Unless the searchers are violating your rights (and you note they’re not) why does it matter?
Given the minuscule number of terrorists, profiling will create an enormous number of false positives. If there were no secondary consequences I could live with that inefficiency. But there are critical secondary consequences — false negatives (Richard Reid) and societal demonization.
And what would you call searching a 4 year old if not grossly inefficient?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Would you guys support profiling if you were the ones being profiled?
Of course. Why would I write something like I have if I felt I should be excluded?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
There’s a lot of problems with profiling. The search pool is still vast. You can’t apply it to every target "public place" without creating radically different pre-civil-rights-style separations between the profiled group and the unprofiled one. Worst of all, terrorists will adapt and stop using people who fit your profile, although it might be a little harder for them.

So if you started putting the Arabs in separate lines at Burger King to make them all have strip-searches, there would be many problems. However, I don’t have a problem with paying extra attention to certain cultural groups at airports.

Having said that, it’s not anything like a perfect solution. The populace as a whole still needs to suffer through restrictive security measures. The disparity between the experiences of the targeted ethnic group and those of the majority should be kept small.




 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Having said that, it’s not anything like a perfect solution. The populace as a whole still needs to suffer through restrictive security measures. The disparity between the experiences of the targeted ethnic group and those of the majority should be kept small.
They’re called ’secondary screening’ and they should be applied only when more than one of the profiling criteria is in evidence.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I support profiling. It just needs to be the right kind of profiling. Israel engaged in ethnic profiling. That’s how it allowed three Japanese terrorists to shoot up their airport.
It’s also how they’ve managed to keep any of their planes from being hijacked since Entebbe. Rather remarkable when you consider the context, isn’t it Cindy?

I remember when we used to call profiling "police work." Oh well.

So just to make sure i understand this, if the FBI is investigating a string of African American church bombings in rural Mississippi where 65% of the population is black, then making sure that 65% of subjects initially investigated are black is the American Way.

Maybe our European critics are right. Maybe being American is synonomous with being stupid.

yours/
peter.
 
Written By: Peter Jackson
URL: http://www.liberalcapitalist.com
The populace as a whole still needs to suffer through restrictive security measures. The disparity between the experiences of the targeted ethnic group and those of the majority should be kept small
.
Oh wonderfully "Progressive" Glasnost... Grandma needs to share the experience with Mr Atta... get real. When the bank is robbed do we stop EVERYONE or just those that meet the description of either person or get-away car. To use your logic we nned to stop the Church Bus too, so they can share in the "experience."
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Given the finite amount of resources available, perhaps we would be safer it they put men a separate line at the airports so that they can be searched more thoroughly. As it is, I’m sure they spend more time searching women than the do men.
cindyb
Cindy,

Male Muslim terrorists have been known to hook up with Western women, then use them as unwitting bomb delivery devices on airliners. It makes sense to search young women.
It’s also how they’ve managed to keep any of their planes from being hijacked since Entebbe.
Are you suggesting we copy the obvious failure of Israeli airline security? Of course, the Japanese terrorists were brought in to defeat the security system, which shows the extent they had to go to to defeat it.

Israeli security experts have said that Israel security looks for terrorists, while US security annoys people (by focusing on weapons). The US system no doubt makes Glasnost happy, but the israeli system really works.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Peter

You have obvously never flown on El Al. Nobody gets a pass, although being Jewish helps. They use models to see who gets taken off for closer inspection. Their security is far beyond profiling.
 
Written By: cindyb
URL: http://
Cindy,

Of course it goes beyond profiling. Profiling is key, however, and the basis of the models of which you speak.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Cindy,

Of course it goes beyond profiling. Profiling is key, however, and the basis of the models of which you speak.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
I do take exception to McQ’s idea that all who fly choose to do so (assuming alternate choices are readily available).

I didn’t choose to fly to China 3X last year. I was required to. My options if I didn’t fly were essentially Zero. Same as when totalitarian-leaning people assert that driving is a privilege the state can take away on whim, and should be able to search any car - and anyone who doesn’t like it - could easily ride a bike instead...Or consent to any search the "heroes of law enforcement" wish to pursue if you have the "privilege" of being summoned to Court.

I agree with regulations for the common good, rules that we all must follow as passengers or drivers...but I don’t like framing the essentials we must do in modern society to exist - with no real choice - framed as matters of free choice or state-authorized privilege bestowed on us by a kindly government functionary.

But even in that wariness, there is a case for profiling if searches MUST be done, to allocate the resources available in a way to optimize search effectiveness and public safety...and that means eliminating the waste of searching 70 year-old black grannies and 6 year-old white kids from Ohio as much as possible.

There is still a case for being exceptionally wary of the government pursuing slow, incremental restrictions on previous liberties we had in areas of unavoidable necessity in going about our lives. Even if some security goon says "Flying was your choice, what happens to you is OUR choice!"
***********************************
There was a very interesting article in Orlando News by an Army officer charging that the Sttuuuupppiiiid TSA criteria singles out troops going to or coming back from Iraq or Afghanistan to secondary and tertiary searches. One way ticket? Check! Time in a "nation that sponsors terror"? Check! Members of a group flying together? Check! Member of the group set off metal detector twice after emptying pockets? Check! Off the troops go to wanding, pat-downs, extra-special stupid questions from a bored McDonalds reject, thorough search of bags and belongings, full or partial disrobings....even holding wounded troops whose embedded shrapnel set off metal detectors. As the TSA tries ignoring venomous remarks by fellow soldiers and crowd until they threaten to arrest members of the crowd, GI’s unit - then finally a summoned doctor and airline supervisor have to consult and "agree with TSA" the returning GI is "safe".

*************************************************
Another interesting article is the Trial Lawyers are thinking of filing a class action suit on Behalf of profiling...saying the delays and inconveniences are costing America tens of billlions. And interestingly, flipping the Semi-senile Ditz of the Supreme Court’s justifying another 25 years of affirmative action back at her. "If the Supreme Court has ruled there is a compelling state interest in maintaining racial and gender discrimination to get more minority job spots, college admissions spots, and government contracts to women and minorities, all to make society better and more able to function optimally - The same compelling state interest argument is readily applicable to profiling and other discriminatory matters where the public safety and national security of all citizens is made better and more able to exist optimally. The Trial Lawyers have focused on the argument that discrimination is not allowed except when compelling state interest makes it so.

I don’t agree with the whole lame O’Connor affirmative action argument, but if the All-Wise Goddess said it was so.......profiling seems to be annointed in Constitutional Holy Oil by her as well.

Still unknown is the Trial Lawyer angle...they must be looking to make money off someone, not saying profiling is a good idea simply to help America. I just don’t know who they seek to sue...


 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Profiling based on race is going to be iffy.

As has been pointed out, the terrorists we’re discussing are not all Arabs. Padilla is hispanic and John Walker Lindh is almost as white as I am (and I am a veritable Aryan goddess ;>). This latest batch was mostly Pakistani. As has also been pointed out, the terrorists are going out of their way to recruit people who aren’t of ’suspect racial appearance.’

Excepting the odd dupe, what they all have in common is not ethnicity, but religion and gender. Of whatever racial extraction, they are Muslim men.

And yes, cindyb, the day white female Wiccans start trying to bring down jumbo jets I will willingly submit to whatever increased scrutiny might be necessary to foil the murderous designs of my co-religionists. A little inconvenience is by far the least of what I’m willing to endure to prevent such barbarity at all, let alone it being done in my name.

 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
As has been pointed out, the terrorists we’re discussing are not all Arabs. Padilla is hispanic and John Walker Lindh is almost as white as I am (and I am a veritable Aryan goddess ;>). This latest batch was mostly Pakistani. As has also been pointed out, the terrorists are going out of their way to recruit people who aren’t of ’suspect racial appearance.’
Right ... and as I noted, that’s a intelligence function which has to be constantly updated and monitored. I’d further note that racial profiling isn’t the exclusive criteria. There are many more indicators which should be factored in, and, in my estimation, if a person exhibits two or more of them, they should be a prime "secondary search" subject.

But if they exhibit none of them, then chances are (and it’s all about chance) they are not who we’re looking for.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"your pool is so big and the number of suspects is so small (dozens or less at any given time), that profiling is not a useful tool."

How about we limit the pool at airports to Arab looking and/or Muslim men attempting to board airplanes, and limit the pool at immigration points to Arab looking and/or Muslim men attempting to enter the country, and so forth. That would limit the pool to a manageable size. I really don’t think we need to search every Arab looking and/or Muslim male in Djakarta or Peshawar.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but I agree with the first part of Mr. Ford’s post. Flying is the ONLY method of reaching certain locations within a reasonable time frame. Yes, I may certainly attempt to reach Mongolia by hot air balloon or piloting a one-man self-propelled submarine across the Atlantic to Ireland, but these are not particularly reasonable approaches to travel (unless you are an eccentric millionaire). Like it or not, flying is a NECESSITY in certain jobs and/or aspects of 21st century life. Since the choice of flying or not that some of the posters have mentioned is not a reasonable choice, what happens to passengers is very much involuntary.

I think an excellent solution to this entire airline security issue (and a nicely libertarian one, if I do say so myself) is to put the ball in the airline companies’ court. Allow them to determine the proper level of security that is needed for airline travel. If, say, Delta decides that profiling and strip searches is absolutely necessary, by all means let them implement such a policy. If no one wants to fly the friendly skies, then they’ll just fold and we’ll know that market forces are against such levels of infringement on passengers’ privacy and civil liberties. If, on the other hand, Southwest Airlines decides that a quick walk through the metal detector is all the security they need, then again, let them implement such a policy. If their jets start exploding mid-air, then we’ll know that such security is inadequate. Consumers will be aware of the options and will have a choice as to how much of their personal liberty they wish to surrender. They will have the ultimate choice of liberty versus security and it will be done without nanny-state interference. Is this not the ESSENCE of libertarianism?

Also, regarding profiling, many have mentioned that "Arab-looking" men between 20 and 40 should warrant extra scrutiny. This is blatant racism. Period. If this policy were implemented against Hispanics or African-Americans, there would be riots in the streets. The entire argument presented for racial profiling is that the ends justify the means. That argument should have been driven six feet under the ground years ago. This is collectivist, utilitarian thinking at its worst. The other side of the argument here isn’t about race. It’s about religion. Rather than profile "Arab-looking" men, we should profile Muslims. Well, here’s the question: how do you know who is a Muslim and who isn’t? Do you plan to make religous identity a question on airline ticket purchase forms?
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Like it or not, flying is a NECESSITY in certain jobs and/or aspects of 21st century life. Since the choice of flying or not that some of the posters have mentioned is not a reasonable choice, what happens to passengers is very much involuntary.
Involuntary in what way Omar? There are always two choices in any situation. One is to do nothing.

The simple fact of the matter is terrorists have repeatedly tried to attack us via aircraft and airlines. Are you suggesting that because some "have" to fly that the rest should suffer the threat because they don’t care to undergo the security checks those who voluntarily fly have to undergo?

Make any sense at all to you?
I think an excellent solution to this entire airline security issue (and a nicely libertarian one, if I do say so myself) is to put the ball in the airline companies’ court.
That’s fine with me, but what if they choose to be like El Al instead of the TSA? Ok then as well?

Security is the question here, not necessarily who conducts it. Look, we all agree that an airline has every right to ensure its passengers aren’t trying to blow it out of the sky, correct? So if that is the point of all of this, why are we squabbling about who does the check? Seems a bit removed from the point.
Also, regarding profiling, many have mentioned that "Arab-looking" men between 20 and 40 should warrant extra scrutiny. This is blatant racism. Period.
Racism is the belief that your race is inherently superior to another race. Profiling is using the common characteristics of perpetrators, to include race if so indicated to identify and stop them from attacking you.

That is blatant profiling and it works.
Well, here’s the question: how do you know who is a Muslim and who isn’t? Do you plan to make religous identity a question on airline ticket purchase forms?
You create a profile and then you do a secondary security search on all of those who fit the profile.

In addition to the racial and age category you’d add things like I noted above: "people who appear nervous, wear bulky clothing, carry a backpack or pace, or have one-way tickets paid for in cash, etc".

Common sense stuff that helps narrow the search.

Obviously a nervous two year old probably wouldn’t make the cut.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
"If this policy were implemented against Hispanics or African-Americans, there would be riots in the streets."

That does not mean it is a wrong policy. People riot in the streets after basketball games.

." The entire argument presented for racial profiling is that the ends justify the means"

No, the argument is that you look for suspects where they are most likely to be found. Or do you think that if a car is carjacked in downtown(insert major urban area of choice), the perpetrators are as likely to be found at the 19th hole of an exclusive suburban country club golf course as anywhere else?
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
McQ, I certainly have no objection to the specific security measures that a private corporation (airline, etc.) adopts to protect its employees, property, and customers. If Delta wants to become the Gestapo with wings, so be it. I reserve the general consumer rights to information and choice. If I want to fly "explosives are legal" airlines, then that risk is both my right and my responsibility to take.

Regarding the choice issue, again. So, if everyone who works in an industry requiring regular airline travel decides that their civil liberties are being violated, then I guess those industries just cease to exist, correct? I mean the employees have a choice, right?

Although your definition of racism is somewhat broad, I’ll work with it and say that in this particular instance, non-Arabs are considering themselves inherently superior to Arabs as they aren’t likely to blow other people up. Or so goes the idea. Still racism, no?

As for profiling working, again your argument boils down to "the ends justify the means." Do you honestly believe in such an attitude?

timactual, hey yeah people riot all the time. My point has to do with the fact that this is a double-standard. If the folks singled out at airports due to their race (or at least appearance of race, see Padilla) were Hispanics or African-Americans, the National Council of La Raza or the NAACP would be demanding apologies, reparations, strikes, boycotts, even federal intervention. Yet when it happens to Arabs, not a peep (except maybe from CAIR, which is a joke, and the occasional ACLU blurb). Regarding your argument on profiling, spin it anyway you like. It’s utilitarian, collectivist "ends justify the means" garbage.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Although your definition of racism is somewhat broad, I’ll work with it and say that in this particular instance, non-Arabs are considering themselves inherently superior to Arabs as they aren’t likely to blow other people up. Or so goes the idea. Still racism, no?
No. It’s a characteristic, Omar, one among many. That’s it. That’s all.

If the vast majority of those attacking us wear Converse tennis shoes is it "shoeism" if we use it as one of the screening characteristics, "anyone who wears Converse tennis shoes". Of course it isn’t. It’s smart police work. You then apply the rest of the screening characteristics to that group and weed out the least likely.

That’s not to say, that other characteristics, as I’ve noted, aren’t applied to the whole as well. And, if you have an older nervous white woman, wearing bulky clothes, carrying a back pack, pacing and holding a one-way ticket paid for in cash, she’d also be worth a look since she has 4 of the 7 most common characteristics of a bomber.

So in that case, while the race, gender and age
don’t fit, the rest of the characteristics do.

Let me ask, is the profile of a serial killer, which happens to be a white male of middle age a result of "racism" or a result of reality?
Regarding the choice issue, again. So, if everyone who works in an industry requiring regular airline travel decides that their civil liberties are being violated, then I guess those industries just cease to exist, correct? I mean the employees have a choice, right?
If we agree the airlines have the right to search passengers, what civil liberty is being violated?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Airline Companies have a right to search passengers as they are, essentially renting their property to said customers. This is a contractual matter between consumer and supplier. Civil liberties should and must be addressed in the contract. As long as the customer is aware of any potential security measures which may encroach on his civil liberties, he is free to choose to use said airline or not. No government regulation or interference enters into this equation. I would be willing to bet that an airline that offers no long security lines and no intrusive searches will do equal business to one that behaves like its run by a police state. I don’t posit that one is superior to the other. They just offer consumer choice. This is what free-market competition is about, correct?

Regarding serial killer profiling and its effectiveness, see Wayne Williams and Derrick Todd Lee. Profiling, DNA testing, and harassing white men in these cases (especially the Lee case) was absurd, demeaning, and, ultimately completely useless. Say what you want about Jon Douglas and the "Mindhunters." They are batting about .500 in my book which makes them not much better than the average non-profiling homicide cop.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Airline Companies have a right to search passengers as they are, essentially renting their property to said customers. This is a contractual matter between consumer and supplier. Civil liberties should and must be addressed in the contract.
And airports are mostly the property of governments, be they municipalities or states. So where does the ’contract’ begin. If we agree that airlines have that right to search as it pertains to their property, why wouldn’t governments have the same right as it pertains to property they control? Are your civil liberties violated when you pass through a search point in a federal building? Why is an airport any different?
Regarding serial killer profiling and its effectiveness, see Wayne Williams and Derrick Todd Lee.
There are always exceptions, Omar. But when 85% (and that is the correct number) fit the profile I described, it makes perfect sense to start there.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Most of the major terrorist action that occurs on airliners happens "in air" not on the ground. As the physcial property of the airport (owned, as you correctly point out by the government) is unaffacted, the government has no, I guess this is probably the wrong term but I don’t know how else to describe it, "insurable interest." Government property is unaffected in this case, therefore they have no reason to be given power over passengers in this case, unless at the specific request of airline corporations, in which case, again passengers have a right to know which airlines are doing the requesting. The contract begins with whomever and whatever is actually airborne.

Your serial killer argument again boils down to effectiveness. For argument’s sake, let’s say we accept that your 85% figure is applicable to airport profiling. You believe this is the MOST effective method of providing airport/airline security. To me this boils down to, the ends justify the means. Let’s use the most effective tools at our disposal to achieve the ends we want and those ends will justify whatever the tools we use are.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Most of the major terrorist action that occurs on airliners happens "in air" not on the ground.
And all of the searches take place on the ground, not in the air.
The contract begins with whomever and whatever is actually airborne.
Right. Until then, and while in the airport, the entity with the right of property is the government. And they have the same right as the airline to ensure a terrorist doesn’t enter carrying a device which could kill others.
Let’s use the most effective tools at our disposal to achieve the ends we want and those ends will justify whatever the tools we use are.
I’m at a loss as to why you think race, age, or gender shouldn’t be considered when looking at suspects.

Let me ask you, if we’re trying to run down a rape suspect, should we stop women too? Not to do so would be sexist, wouldn’t it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ,

Over on A Secondhand Conjecture, Omar made the argment that because, among other equally ludicrous evidence, we "tolerate" the Amish, that we are as backwards a society as the Arabic Moslems.

I suggest that you can’t have a worthwhile political discussion with a liar or an embecile.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Brilliant little piece of work there, Tom. If you can’t win, just call your opponent names. And if you’d like to continue our debate (in which I most assuredly did not say anything about "Tolerating" the Amish) you know where to find me.

Yours, xoxo, FDIC, VFW, PTA, shake a leg, goodnight
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Yours, xoxo, FDIC, VFW, PTA, shake a leg, goodnight.
LOL!

Oh, man. Thanks Omar ... I needed that.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I try to make up for my less than perfect logic and rhetoric with sparkling repartee. Glad you enjoyed!

PS It was about time someone called Tom on that ridiculous sign-off.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com

 
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