Smart Profiling Is More Effective Than Racial Profiling

1256 words - 6 pages

America has a long history of perpetrating great injustices against minority groups during wartime. The author of “Freedom vs. Security” and chief Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria traces these acts of racial profiling all the way back to 1790 during the French-American War (Zakaria 308). Such injustices are usually “overreactions to a limited threat” (Zakaria 309). Zakaria identifies the current mistreatment of Middle Eastern-Muslims within the United States as a similar overreaction (Zakaria 309). In the war on terror, an unfair emphasis has been placed on the race and religion of terrorism suspects. This use of racial profiling as a tool in the war on terrorism is questionable at best. ...view middle of the document...

Some with firsthand experience with crime fighting would strongly disagree with Bork. Vincent Cannistraro, former head of counterterrorism at the CIA, states that “[Race] is a false lead…I can’t think of any examples where [racial] profiling has caught a terrorist” (Zakaria 311).
Zakaria admits that racial profiling is currently being used and even he uses his personal experiences as evidence. However, he feels that because terrorist groups are comprised of mostly Arab-Muslims, there is reason to engage in racial profiling. Yet, Zakaria then seems to counter his own assertion by listing off four people of non-Arab descent that have or could have caused great damage through terrorist plotting (Zakaria 311). In identifying non-Middle Eastern terrorists, Zakaria acknowledges that even though race may help in some situations, profiles are not perfect because people do not fit into neat ethno-religious categories (e.g. Islamic extremist does not equal Middle Eastern). Race is too a broad of a characteristic to be effective in catching illegal activity, whether it be speeding or terrorism. It does not belong in the fight to maintain national security.
Besides it being ineffective, racial profiling violates citizen’s individual rights. Bork argues that racial profiling is not responsible for “unjustified harassment and occasional detention of Arab and Muslim visitors,” (Bork 291). Yet, immediately after 9/11, the FBI rounded up five thousand Arabs for questioning, some of which were detained in jail overnight (Zakaria 312). Zakaria does not report to his readers that any terrorists or important intelligence were obtained from the detained Arabs, which implies that incarcerations were unjustified. As a result of this US government action, many Arabs in the United States may have feared for their safety. The act of detaining thousands of Muslims does not only seem unethical, but it is also illegal. Holding and questioning these Muslims seems to be in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which states that individuals are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. There is no evidence that these men are guilty of any crimes, and they were taken into custody only because their race was used to label them as “terrorists.” This is the very definition of “unreasonable” and is a clear violation of constitutional rights. Moreover, such unfair treatment of foreign nationals in the United States may upset their home countries to such an extent that these nations could refuse to help the Unite States gather and pursue terrorism leads abroad.
Zakaria introduces the concept of “smart profiling.” Defined as being behavior-based, smart profiling has assisted by the FBI in identifying terrorists. Smart profiling “preclears” people who are not possible terrorist candidates (Zakaria 311). An airline ticket will be run through a computer system to determine whether or not a...

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