On Thursday, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) took to the floor of the House to rail against the Obama administration’s policies on immigration and combating terrorism. King complained that Obama is against racial profiling, saying “it had better be used” in cases involving, for example, “a young Middle Eastern male.” He added, however, that racial profiling couldn’t be the “exclusive component” of screening people:
KING: He has said to all of his Federal officers from the White House down, ICE, CBP, Border Patrol, all of them, well, he really doesn’t want to see immigration law enforced. And it’s clear, of course, that he doesn’t want to have racial profiling used, and I would agree with him–as an exclusive component. However, if it’s part of the other indicators, it had better be used. Would we say that we can’t use as an indicator when it comes time to enforce the law against international terrorism that a young Middle Eastern male cannot be considered as one of the factors? We’ve kind of said that when people go through the airport. I think it’s wrong. I think it’s foolish. And in fact, Mr. Speaker, I think it’s downright stupid to set aside our common sense for the sake of political correctness.
What is ironic about King’s endorsement of using the race of a “young Middle Eastern male” to profile terrorist suspects is the fact that the last major attempted terror attacks in the United States were not commited by men from the Middle East. Faisal Shazad, the chief suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing, is an American citizen originally from the country of Pakistan, which is located in southwest Asia on the Indian subcontinent. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the chief suspect in the Christmas Day bombing attempt, is from Nigeria, which is located on the continent of Africa.
As a counterterrorism strategy, racial profiling is completely ineffective. A study released last year by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science conducted a mathematical analysis to compare random screenings to racial profiling. It found that racial profiling is “no more effective” than using the random method in detecting terrorists. Additionally, former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told NPR last December, 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.”