By John Stossel
In the wake of the “underwear bomber,” why is it still politically incorrect to talk about profiling? The TSA makes all of us remove our shoes and surrender our shaving cream. Shouldn’t they also keep a profile of what potential terrorists do and aggressively screen people accordingly? Not just obvious things like screening people whose parents have reported them as possible terrorists (DUH.), but also people buying tickets with cash, buying one-way tickets, traveling with little/no luggage (oh, wait, the underwear terrorist did ALL of those things).
I like what David Harsanyi writes:
It is an unavoidable fact that these “bad people” tend to come from certain places and subscribe to a certain religious affiliation. Focus on them.
From the evidence, it is clear that it is impossible to cover every base, but the wasted billions shaking down the average passenger offers little more than psychological comfort.
And comfort in knowing that no special interest will complain.
Harsanyi goes on to point out an interesting point from Bob Poole at the Reason Foundation:
[T]his failure reflects the flawed thinking of aviation security policy, namely a fixation “on keeping bad things — as opposed to bad people — off of airplanes.
The anti-profiling people are usually worried that terrorist profiling will lead the TSA slippery slope to profiling based on skin color. But that hasn’t been the case with the Israeli airline, El-Al, which aggressively profiles for terrorism. Here’s one blogger’s experience:
I flew El Al from Los Angeles to Israel. I was a male in my 40s, traveling alone. Even though I was an American Caucasian and wasn’t anything close to even looking like a Muslim, I was pulled out of the line by a security official with the Israeli airline and interrogated – in an unfriendly manner, I might add – for about 10 minutes before I was allowed to board. I was pulled out of line for interrogation because I fit a key part of the El Al profile – a male of a certain age traveling solo.
This is such common sense that it’s unbelievable that the TSA won’t utilize this tool. Then again, in government, common sense is often uncommon.