American Morning

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December 31st, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Catch terrorists with ethnic profiling?

The attempted bombing of Flight 253 has revived the debate over ethnic profiling. New York State lawmaker Dov Hikind plans to resurrect a bill to let police use ethnicity when deciding who to stop, question and search. He says we should "go with the odds" when so many lives are at stake.

On Thursday's American Morning we discussed ethnic profiling with Rafi Ron, CEO of New Age Security Solutions and former security chief at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, and Mike German, a former FBI special agent and counsel for the ACLU.


Filed under: Terrorism
soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. james Dennis

    CNN has been ignoring histories biggest story, the planned and secret demolition of the world trade centre, for 9 years now. I have watched CNN for many years, and I always admired your reporting, until I watched a video on Google recently called Ripple Effect. I was very disssapointed when I saw your reporter lie to the camera about the pentagon, I find it unbelievable, or a t least I did, untill I realized that your former president is the real terrorist, and you have simply been terrorized the same as everyone else. You have for good reason, I'd be scared too if I was an American, I sympathize. But I no longer take your reporting seriously, you are no different than the rest. I now watch CBC or BBC if I want news, and my faith in them is seriously shaken as well. You all really need to look at yourselves in the mirror.

    February 19, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  2. Bawhb G

    I have a hard time understanding U.S. policy on terrorism .
    In as much that we know what countries "produce" Terrorist cells and if Homeland Security really want to put the squeeze on terrorist here at home. Why, do we not revoke the visas of ALL peoples of these countries. If they have a business here, we should give them 90 days to put their business in order, and transfer it to a Citizen of The United States. We must do this with honesty, and true sincerity, and beg our pardon, that when the problem of terrorism is considered abated, then they may return .
    This drastic measure may instill these people, whom are mostly , students, businessmen, and hard working members of our communities, a chance to help their own country to overcome their problems.

    February 18, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  3. robert szukhent

    as long as immams teach that women are second class people then we should profile all moslems everywhere as potential terrorists..

    February 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
  4. mike

    If you don't like the methods used to protect the public at airports,take a train.

    February 10, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
  5. david baker

    Yes, ethnic profiling should be a priority... We are now almost 9 years into this war with terrorism...I have flown 2 or 3 times since 9/11, and each time, I have been pulled out for the search... My dark skin comes from my American indian great grand-mother... I am fine with being searched and think any one with dark skin should be searched on each and every flight...

    February 10, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  6. Paul Stannack

    Surely, Obama, an ethnic Somali from Kenya, representative, if you like, of the virulently, violently, implacably anti-Christian, anti-West Somalis is the wrong man to do anything about any of this. Sadly, America's world is already upside down.

    February 9, 2010 at 1:27 am |
  7. Gadflie

    Over the last 20 years, Caucasian adult males have been responsible for more terrorist acts in this country than any other ethnic group. Obviously those are the ones that our law enforcement of all types should be singling out for special attention.

    February 6, 2010 at 2:00 pm |
  8. ChimChim

    While I would agree that profiling should be used by our law enforcement...I also realize that it will only be somewhat successful if based on physical appearance.

    Many of you here are screaming that we should be looking for Muslims. The Nigerian bomber was a black man, thus would just look like a scary black man to many...not another 9/11 terrorist. Likewise, Timmothy McVey would have looked like yet another white-trash redneck moving his junk out of OKC.

    Where profiling would succeed is in not wasting time on obvious stuff....like patting down my grandmother and 4yr old niece at the airport screening.
    Profiling in a deeper sense would also help. Hmmm...I have a Nigerian paying in cash to travel to Detroit in the middle of winter and he has no jacket. "Please wait right here sir. I need to get your ticket from the other counter."

    February 1, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  9. Kevin Fifth

    terrorists ..... United States of America .."Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death". – Adolph Hitler
    Moreover, recently declassified documents show that in the 1960's, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba Whether or not you believe that governments carry out "false flag" terror, you might reasonably assume that the 9/11 Commission investigated September 11th, and concluded that Osama Bin Laden and his group of terrorists were solely responsible.

    Unfortunately, a quick look at the government's investigations reveals that - not only has there never been a real investigation - but the behavior of government representatives in willfully obstructing all attempts at investigation comprises evidence of guilt. Specifically, in all criminal trials, evasiveness, obstruction, and destruction of evidence all constitute strong circumstantial evidence that the accused is guilty or, at the very least, not to be believed World Trade Center disaster investigators are refusing to show computer visualizations [i.e. models] of the collapse of the Twin Towers despite calls from leading structural and fire engineers". Numerous experts have stated that three World Trade Center buildings were brought down on 9/11 by controlled demolition A janitor witnessed explosions in the sub-basement A carpenter witnessed explosions in the sub-basement A Port Authority Police Department officer, who was intimately familiar with the World Trade Center from his years of police duties patrolling there, described how the hallway began to shudder as a "terrible deafening roar" swept over him, then a giant fireball exploded in the street seconds before the south tower collapsed none of it add's up ill leave you with this live it up soon the world will start it's downfall

    January 31, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
  10. Johnson

    Did I just accidently stumble onto a KKK website? While we're at it why don't we go ahead and reinstate slavery? Of course the majority of the people who have commented have not objected to the possibilty of being searched because the majority have been white. They will never be racially profiled and have their dignity trashed because honestly, how many white people would be racially profiled? So esentially harassing everyone who is not white will give you a false sense of security but I sure hope that the terrorists groups don't start using white people to do their work because nobody would ever suspect them.

    January 28, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  11. Steve

    tough issue. More than 90% of terrorist are Muslims, but 99% of Muslims are not terrorists. I guess we have to ask ourselves what level of risk are we willing to take. It's sad that we allow bozos on plans with explosive underwear, shoes or whatever other accessories they want to wear. Now, the other 99% are looked at with scrutiny. I think this is the reality we are going to have to live with for the rest of our lives.

    On the publicly supporting those who commit terror, thank our ACLU who take a philosophical approach to civil liberties and not a pragmatic approach. That's just a fact that we are going to have to live with too. At least until we reject them, marginalize them, and stop allowing them to have a voice at the policy table.

    Our freedoms look very similar to the freedoms of ancient Greece and Rome after the turn of the first millenium post A.D. They destructed from within.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  12. Kevin

    @ Dan Nelson.

    Of course all Islamic Terrorists are Muslims. It's in the adjective. However not all terrorists are Islamic.

    But if we were to fear Islam in general as an outlet of terrorism, then ethnic profiling would be the worst strategy to go with.

    Islam has the largest diversity in race of all religions, and Middle Eastern decent only makes up 20% of that population.

    Islam is also the fastest growing religion, and the most evangelical. So It is only a matter of time before we do get white and Asian Islamic terrorist attempts.

    Racial profiling for anything else would make more sense, but all that does is leave security up to hope and chance. You wouldn't want software that only blocked Trojan viruses: they are the most common but your computer is still prone to infection. And it only takes one.

    But vast majority of Muslims can not even remotely be characterized by terrorists: they are the greatest victims of their attacks. It's not because Islam in particular is violent, but because it, like early Christianity, is very popular in poorer regions because of its identical aspiration of getting into Heaven. Poverty breeds this violence, faith is just the scapegoat used by such terrorist organizations. Most of which believe their own trickery.

    January 26, 2010 at 3:51 am |
  13. Werner Schneider

    I think one saying tells it all. Somebody once said: "Not all muslims are (Islamic) terrorists, but all terrorists are muslims." Of course it's unavoidable to watch certain people more closer than others. If I'd be a liberal, westernized muslim I won't mind if the FBI or whoever would check me, because to neutralize a (potential) terrorist would be better for me as well. For the simple reason that many innocent muslims are also killed by Islamic terrorists – in many countries more of them than non-muslims actually.

    January 25, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  14. Americancitizen

    For years prior to 9/11/2001, the United States of America was being invaded by foreign nationals with the aid of our government and academia. Academia was guided by greed to “sponsor” foreign students into their universities. However, academia had no intentions of keeping track of or maintaining the where about/tracking of their “students”. The State Department relaxed many of the visa constraints to allow these “students” to enter and leave our borders as they desired.
    After the incidences of 9/11 and the start of “War on Terrorism”, we as American citizens gave up many of “our guaranteed” rights. Rights and privileges granted by the United States of America Constitution Bill of Rights to the American citizens were invaded and violated time after time by many authorities under the guise of national security. However, many terrorists and illegal aliens were granted more rights than the citizens.
    Even today, with BILLIONS of tax dollars spent by Homeland Security and TSA, our borders are still not secured. Terrorists can still come and go as they please as evident by past breaches of securities and incidences by terrorist groups and illegal aliens. The ineptness of the agencies chartered to maintain our national security is quite evident by incidences that have occurred. The disgruntlement of the American citizens is documented by the increase in sales of guns and ammunition.
    We as Americans need to stand together and take control of “OUR” country again. If we don’t, what had occurred is just a glimmer of what will come in our future.

    January 25, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
  15. mike

    I'm a proud canadian but not proud of our loose immigration system, unfortunately for the muslim community it's not bill smith from idaho or doug brown from ontario committing acts of terror. How a muslim can be interviewed on tv in north america and praise terrorist acts against america in particular is beyond me, freedom of speech is one thing , to incite and promote this kind of behavior quite another. Call it racial profiling if you want, if it keeps canada and america safe from acts of terror so be it. This is not and will not be a problem in countries like australia, what are they doing right that we can't seem to enable ourselves to do?

    January 24, 2010 at 5:39 am |
  16. Mike

    You have got to be kidding me! My fellow Americans have become such cowards that they would use racial profiling to justify a false sense of security. This goes against the very priciples this great nation was founded on. If you truely feel safer by giving up you God-given civil liberties, then i got a bridge in Brooklyn i want to sell you. Wake up people!

    January 20, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  17. badboy902

    Just quit lettihg them into our country. Bottom line if you are from country X Y and Z you are not coming across our borders. You are not welcome.

    January 17, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  18. neil

    The political correctness of this government will be its downfall...never forget!!! obviously they forgot ..If this country keeps choosing that route and not being tough then they deserve to get there butts kicked. How many times do we have to say i told you so! Get with the program!!!!!

    January 13, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  19. Cindy Fulton

    OK guys its time. Check them all. Racial profiling is bogus during a war. If they have nothing to hide they will not care. I am Canadian and I am watching the US bow down to political correctness. I have never seen you do it before so don't start being nice now. I am a white American/Canadian. If you have to check me in a scanner please go ahead, At least I will have a bit of comfort that the muslim sitting behind me was checked too. The world is a tough place now. The Muslims are causing the terrorist acts. Get them all out of the US and Canada. It does not matter if they are good people or not. Their people have frightened us and none of them belong on our continent. Lets take our land back and send them all home to stand up against their own people.
    Send them all home and bring our soldiers back.

    January 12, 2010 at 5:28 am |
  20. Alessandra Navetta

    Just viewed your piece about the Muslim woman wearing a head scarf who objected to being searched at the airport. I am a 63 year caucasian woman who has been searched on multiple occasions. So much for ethnic profiling!

    I am willing to subject myself to searches if this prevents the acts of terrorism we all fear.

    Your network should balance your reporting by presenting the views of those of use who support our country's efforts in fighting terrorism,as boring as they may be!

    January 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
  21. AL

    I agree with ronvan above:

    Sadly I have to say YES! The "bad muslims" have created a situation where those "Good Muslims" are suffering the consequences! For me, until the vast majority of those "good Muslims" take action to police from within, denounce their religious leaders who support these animals, and take back control of their religion they will continue to be disrespected!

    Well said ROVAN !!!

    January 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  22. James

    In Israel they do ethnic profiling. Look at them, they never had a terrorist threat in 20 years.

    January 9, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  23. John

    There is another term for 'ethnic profiling'. It is called 'the scientific method'. In the scientific method, one deals with situations and formulates strategies based upon verifiable data, not as we would prefer the world to be.

    Whether politically correct or not, it is an undeniable fact that certain ethnic groups have a disproportionate involvement in criminal and terrorist acts relative to their numbers in the general population. This is fact. Unpleasant, yes, but fact.

    To make the scientific method illegal in the fight against crime and terrorism is simply another way the government ties its own hands and puts on a blindfold. The issue is at what point does the cost to the victims of crime and terrorism cease to be justified by the 'civil rights' of perpetuators.

    I am a 50 year old professional white male and, quite frankly, if people like me were disproportionately committing acts of crime and terrorism I would feel the government was not doing its job if I was not given closer scrutiny than members of other groups.

    It is really about ethnic power politics I guess. The scientific method has been declared descriminatory because the outcome is not flattering to certain ethnic groups and their advocates. End of story. Bury your dead. Move on.

    January 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  24. michael

    How else can you do it?Our freedoms are our downfall!

    January 4, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  25. RICHARD D. DUFFY

    Clearly, ethnic profiling should be used! Political correctness is obsolete!
    If 34 of 34 attacks on America were attempted or completed by middle eastern men between the ages of 18 and 36, do you not think it SMART to thoroughly and rigorously check every single one of them!!! Political correctness is over. Protecting America should be the single goal. No exceptions. Even requiring a few airports to screen international flights into America is not enough. Every origination airport, including Briton, where 5 attackers have come through urgently needs to be on the list and be mandated to thoroughly screen all passengers.
    We have all seen the fruitless waste of time checking elderly Americans, some in wheel chairs and small children while middle eastern men just walked through the lines. Random checking is the lazy, dangerous way to conduct business.
    The latest White House "expert" is spinning a new story today. No smoking gun??? What an idiot!!

    January 4, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  26. ronvan

    Sadly I have to say YES! The "bad muslims" have created a situation where those "Good Muslims" are suffering the consequences! For me, until the vast majority of those "good Muslims" take action to police from within, denounce their religious leaders who support these animals, and take back control of their religion they will continue to be disrespected!

    January 1, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  27. Dan Nelson Lafayette,IN

    Look at these Islamic terrorists they are all Muslims. Yes we should put more scrutiny in not only searching at airports but anywhere they are! Many are young and taught jihad and martyrdom at a very young age. They believe that it is their duty to kill as many westerners as possible. The peace loving Muslims should understand after all it is the Koran that teaches this kind of hatred and more Muslims should speak out against the extremists! Their nations should also put their armed forces into the battle against jihad after all the root of this problem comes from allowing Imams to teach their young this hateful ideology! Profiling Muslims and anyone with an Islamic name would do more to stop the extremists! They would be less likely to fly and/or put on a vest with a bomb in it if they know that we will be searching with more intensity! The Muslim nations that should use their armed forces should be put into the thick of the battle to prove they are against jihad and their thinking of of what a martyr is which is not someone who kills people because of their hatred for them but is a person who would give up their life to save another!

    January 1, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  28. A. Smith, Oregon

    Traffic cops routinely profile Hispanic Drug runners here in Oregon. They see a Hispanic man driving a rented car and pull them over. Throw all their belongings into the roadbed and if they can't find any drugs, call in the canine team to discover them. They've been highly successful in making huge drug and cash busts on the Interstate Highway.

    All people of eastern origin, everyone that has visited a Muslim mosque in the past 6 months, everyone that has a Muslim name and you'd have well over 90% of the possible Muslim terrorists.

    However, no amount of extra draconian measures heaped on American citizens under the guise of safety and eliminating terror would have prevented what appears to be a US Diplomat from escorting the Nigerian Muslim butt-bomber without a passport past all of Amsterdam's security checkpoints and onto his International Flight.

    Why isn't the man that sneaked the Nigerian Muslim butt-bomber past Amsterdam's security checkpoints NOT on the FBI MOST WANTED FUGITIVE LIST?

    News Media and the American Public should be screaming for the FBI Director to explain to the American people why the FBI has not captured nor do they appear to even be searching for that man.

    December 31, 2009 at 4:37 pm |