Yesterday, Newt Gingrich joined the right wing’s hysteric attacks on President Obama regarding Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s failed attempted to blow up a U.S. airliner over Detroit, calling for more “profiling” and “discrimination” and saying that the Obama administration is more interested in “protecting the rights of terrorists” than “protecting the lives of Americans.”
This morning on Fox News, Gingrich tried to clarify his comments. “We have to be prepared to profile based on behavior, not ethnic profiling, not racial profiling but look at people’s behavior,” he said. Later, host Alisyn Camerota signed on to and promoted Gingrich’s plan:
CAMEROTA: I haven’t heard a single person talking about any kind of racial profiling. It doesn’t say “Muslim” on a passport. [...] But anybody who travels all the time recognizes how ludicrous it is to frisk your grandmother. She’s not the risk. But somebody who’s let say been in Yemen in the past year. I’d say profile them. Profile them! What’s wrong with that?
Co-host Dave Briggs asked, “Should we body scan everyone at the airports?” “I’d say yes,” he said answering his own question, adding, “If it keeps me and my family safe, go ahead an invade their privacy.” Watch it:
Yesterday on NPR, even former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said profiling is a bad idea, calling it foolish, particularly in Abdulmutallab’s case:
CHERTOFF: I’m going to argue that this case illustrates the danger and the foolishness of profiling because people’s conception of what a potential terrorist looks like often doesn’t match reality. In this case we had a Nigerian, for example, not a person from the Middle East or from South Asia. If you look at the airline plot of 2006, two of the plotters were a married couple that were going to get on a plane with a young baby. The terrorists understand that the more they vary the kind of operative they use, the more likely they’re going to be able to exploit prejudices if we allow those prejudices to guide the way we conduct our investigation.
“I think it’s not only problematic from civil rights’ standpoint, but frankly,” Chertoff said, “I think it winds up not being terribly effective.”