Sunday, January 03, 2010


Jenn over at A Conservative Shemale points out the the super-duper high-tech body scanners everyone is shouting about in the aftermath of the underwear bomber apparently would not have actually done any good, even if they had been used.
I guess it’s time to state the obvious- There is no one perfect system. We need a defense in depth strategy that is going to have to include some form of profiling.

I'm really starting to like her. She seems to have a good head on her shoulders.

The high-tech stuff does have it's place, but as she said, there is no one perfect system. Consider the body scanners. One weakness - if I understand the system right - is that it doesn't penetrate skin. Now imagine a really fat terrorist, and what he could hide in his folds. (I apologize profusely for that disturbing mental image.) We absolutely need a defense in depth strategy, and it is going to have to include some form of profiling.

The problem is that people hear "profiling" and think "ZOMG, we're going to strip search anyone who looks middle-eastern! Religious persecution!" and immediately shut their brains down and fight it, regardless of what profiles are actually used. So, of course, no politician who cares about getting re-elected (which is pretty much all of them) would ever dream of allowing profiling to happen on their watch.

But profiling does not automatically mean using race or religion based profiles. The underwear bomber would have been caught with a simple profile that had no references to race, religion, or even gender - he paid cash for his ticket (already a red flag), and he had no luggage for an international flight. Either one of those facts should have triggered additional scrutiny and a more intensive search before boarding, both together should have had him pulled aside for a detailed interview and background check.

But, you know, religion and race shouldn't be ignored when creating those profiles, either. If John Smith goes to Pakistan and comes back as Muhammad Abdullah, it should raise suspicions. Abdul Khadar from Terroristan should be asked more than just "did you leave your luggage unattended," and should go through a little more scrutiny than just walking through a metal detector with his shoes off before boarding the plane. Along the same lines, Joe and Jane Jones from Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, traveling with their two year old daughter and three month old infant, are very likely not terrorists, and probably don't need to be strip searched.

As long as you don't let yourself be blinded by the profiles, or allow them to be abused, they can be extremely effective. Just ask the Israelis.

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