Since the Fort Hood shootings and the failed Christmas Day terror attack, some on the right have called for more racial and ethnic “profiling” and “discrimination,” saying that the Obama administration is more interested in “protecting the rights of terrorists” than “protecting the lives of Americans.” Today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing looking into the Fort Hood rampage, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) became perhaps the most powerful proponent of outright ethnic profiling, saying it’s “by and large true” that “all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners”:
INHOFE: I’m, for one — I know it’s not politically correct to say it — I believe in racial and ethnic profiling. I think if you’re looking at people getting on an airplane and you have X amount of resources to get into it, you get at the targets, and not my wife. And I just think it’s something that should be looked into. The statement that’s made, it’s probably 90 percent true with some exceptions like the Murrah federal office building in my state, Oklahoma. Those people, they were not Muslims, they were not Middle Easterners. But when you hear that not all Middle Easterners or Muslims between the age of 20 and 35 are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims or Middle Easterners between the age of 20 and 35, that’s by and large true.
In addition to being an affront to civil rights, ethic profiling is ineffective. Inhofe says he is worried about limited resources, but ethnic profiling actually wastes law enforcement resources by chasing false targets. Moreover, many terrorists — including “shoe bomber” Richard Reid, al Qaeda recruit Adam Pearlman, and “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski — don’t fit Inhofe’s profile. As former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told NPR last month, the recent Christmas Day bombing attempt illustrated “the danger and the foolishness of profiling because people’s conception of what a potential terrorist looks like often doesn’t match reality.” (HT: Washington Independent)