Time to Profile Terrorists
America must focus its finite capabilities on those who crave the destruction of planes.


Deroy Murdock

At best, avoiding terrorist profiling wastes scarce resources by subjecting everyone to the same time-consuming, often humiliating searches that have ignited public rage. The Transportation Safety Administration is intent on checking the prosthetic bosoms of American women who have endured breast cancer and mastectomies — as recently befell Cathy Bossy, a 32-year veteran airline employee.

Or consider the case of a Michigander named Tom Sawyer. (Really.) The 61-year-old bladder-cancer survivor collects his urine in an external plastic bag called a urostomy. Before a November 7 flight, an airport screener ignored Sawyer’s pleas for caution and ham-handedly frisked him. Predictably, the TSA agent popped the urostomy. So, Tom Sawyer flew to Orlando bathed in his own urine.

At worst, TSA officers might encounter a bomb-wielding passenger who matches the terrorist profile, but then breeze him through security so he doesn’t feel uncomfortable. The result could be the sky-high calamity that Americans have feared since September 11.

At a Monday night Intelligence Squared debate on this topic at New York University, one of my interlocutors was Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles Burlingame, the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77, which al-Qaeda smashed into the Pentagon. She cited her conversation with an American Airlines customer-service agent who worked on September 11. He checked in Nawaf and Salem al-Hazmi, two of those who hijacked that Boeing 757. While American’s seasoned employee found these two suspicious, Burlingame says he told her he did not flag them for further scrutiny “because I didn’t want my colleague to think that I was a racist and a bigot.”

Such political correctness eventually will kill innocent civilians. It’s past time to employ terrorist profiling to shield Americans from those who want to murder us.

— New York commentator Deroy Murdock is a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. 


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