Skip to comments.Three reasons not to profile (editorial on why NOT to profile)
Posted on 07/06/2011 6:16:04 AM PDT by I_Publius
By: Faiza Patel
Earlier this month, responding to a question from the editor of this publication, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Janet Napolitano, categorically rejected the use of profiling in homeland security efforts. Instead of focusing its resources on young, Muslim men, DHS paid the most attention to behavior indicating terrorist activity, such as travel patterns. The Secretarys rejection of profiling is spot on, both as a matter of efficacy and as a matter of ethics.
To begin with, commonly held assumptions about terrorism and stereotypes of terrorists are often incorrect and thus could misdirect law enforcement efforts.
For example, the assumption that the average terrorist is a young, Muslim man of Arab or South Asian origin is unsupported by facts. A 2010 review of post 9/11 terrorism prosecutions by the Center for Law and Security at NYU School of Law found that accused terrorists were most commonly identified with Marxist rebels in Colombia (FARC). Only 11 percent were identified as affiliated with Al Qaeda.
Recent cases vividly illustrate that terrorists are a diverse bunch. Joseph Stack, who flew a plane into a federal building in Texas because he was angry with the government, wasnt a young Muslim. Nor was the gunman who opened fire at a security checkpoint at the Pentagon late last year.
Even among terrorists who claim to act in the name of Islam, it is nearly impossible to establish a profile. Jihad Jane, the blond, blue-eyed Pennsylvanian convert to Islam who plotted to attack a Danish cartoonist doesnt fit the stereotype of a terrorist. Nor does Daniel Patrick Boyd, a North Carolina construction worker and father of five who plotted with his sons to commit attacks in Israel and Kosovo.
Indeed, as DHSs former director Michael Chertoff has explained, terrorists deliberately recruit people who dont fit the stereotype of a terrorist. If we rely on profiles, we could well miss the real threat.
Apart from being unreliable, profiling alienates the very American Muslim communities that law enforcement counts on for terrorism tips and may well undermine counter-terrorism efforts at home. Profiling -- through programs requiring young men visiting from Arab and South Asian countries to register with the government, extra screening for people who are from or travelling through these countries (both of which were recently discontinued), and concerted law enforcement scrutiny -- has led many American Muslims to believe they are regarded as inherently suspect. Unsurprisingly, this has made them more guarded in their dealings with law enforcement officials. Thus far, American Muslims have an exemplary record of providing critical tips to the police. Multiple studies show that community members provided information in some 40 percent of foiled terrorist plots. But there is a serious risk that the disenchantment bred by profiling will lead them to stop proactively cooperating with law enforcement agencies.
Finally, as even the Bush Department of Justice recognized, profiling is unfair and un-American. In its 2003 Guidance Regarding the Use of Race by Federal Law Enforcement Agencies, the DOJ declared: The use of race as the basis for law enforcement decision-making clearly has a terrible cost, both to the individuals who suffer invidious discrimination and to the Nation, whose goal of liberty and justice for all recedes with every act of such discrimination. Although the Department has not seen fit to apply this guidance to national security investigations, there is no principled reason why invidious discrimination is just as unacceptable when fighting terrorism as it is when combating other crimes.
Politically motivated violence is not the exclusive preserve of young men, or Muslims or Arabs or South Asians. Sadly, it is a tactic of choice for people of all ethnicities and religions who espouse a variety of ideologies. National security policy that reflects this reality will secure our nation far better than clinging to stereotypes. And, it will better fit our longstanding Constitutional values.
Faiza Patel serves as Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. She can be reached at:
I wonder how much this woman receives in funding from CAIR, the brotherhood, or even the TSA? (not saying they're related, of course....just saying....)
Do a search on this woman and you’ll find how she is a muslim sympathizer. Wonder if she’s in the anti-semitic camp, as well?
Her examples of people who do not match the profile account for 1/10th of 1% of terrorist activity worldwide. Columbian rebels have not attached Americans as far as I can determine. All the rest of the terrorists on the planet, and especially those who target us, are Muslim and she knows this. I couldn’t care less about the feelings of American Muslims. I pretty much believe those two words are mutually exclusive anyway. You are one, or the other.
“Wonder if shes in the anti-semitic camp, as well?”
I know you had to ask, but, you had to ask?
Instead, the so-called Moderate Muslims express exactly the view that I would expect a radical Islamic terrorist to express.
Conclusion: there are no moderate muslims.
Definitely is a supporter of the Palestinians and is pro-flotilla. If it walks like a duck...quacks like a duck....looks like a duck.........
The really frustrating part is that this article is from our Governmant’s Security News publication, which is written for those on the security side of the government.
“...The really frustrating part is that this article is from our Governmants Security News publication, which is written for those on the security side of the government.”
We must remember that government security folks are not only not the sharpest knives in the drawer...they aren’t even knives.
Exactly....but our wonderful Congressional members have a different, albeit incorrect, opinion about these fine, upstanding citizens.
How many of the 9-11 hijackers were wearing Che Guevera tee shirts?
How many of the 9-11 hijackers were wearing Che Guevera tee shirts?
Profiling is just SO AWFUL
I mean if you want to find 18 to 40 year old muslim terrorists you just HAVE TO frisk everyone- not just 18-40 year old muslims, but grammas and babies too!
Because it would be JUST AWFUL not to. I mean it would be really really rude. And not nice. and they would not like us or anything.
No profiling! Take the loaf of bread handed to you.
Why not ask Israel what is “spot on?”
Obfuscation begins at the government.
Wow! Big falsehoods in one little sentence!
Unreliable? How are the Israelis doing? Or the Dutch for that matter?
Alienates Muslims? Why would this be, if they are the peace-loving lot that this guy seems to think is on our side? If everyone looked at me with suspicion because my people were hijacking airplanes and blowing up buildings, I would welcome special screening so that others would be assured that I was, in fact, harmless. Why would I cooperate less if I were interested restoring a good image for my people? I don't understand.
I mean to offend someone who wants to kill all Americans, and already blew up a couple thousand innocent people would be a terrible terrible thing.
It may make one of the murdering terrorists feel uncomfortable of have an unpleasant feeling. Then Obama would have to go to their country of origin and kneel before their leader and give them a few billion of our dollars.
Shame on the mean old USA for trying to defend itself. We are supposed to roll over like a dead dog while muslim terrorists do whatever they like and Obama begs them for forgiveness.
Certainly, the oil producing countries will then give us free petroleum for the next couple of years because the president has made them love and respect us.
Handle American crime under the constitution. Handle Islamic terrorism under the patriot act.
Otherwise, if we are all to be treated as Islamic terrorists in a “war on terror”, we are a Nation living in a territory occupied by a government at war with us.
Homeland inSecurity has redefined the “war on Islamic terror” which was centrally to prevent Islamic terrorists from carrying out plots against the American people to a war on American citizens to prevent any crime they may commit.
They warped themselves against the people in the name of political correctness. If the US is to be at war with radical Islamists, it has to be at war equally with it’s own citizens and all crime must be equal to Islamic terrorism. No thanks. I don’t care to have a government that is at war against my country.