King endorses ethnic profiling
BY J. JIONI PALMER
Newsday Washington Bureau
08/17/06 "Newsday" -- --
WASHINGTON -- Declaring that airport
screeners shouldn't be hampered by "political correctness," House
Homeland Security Chairman Peter King has endorsed requiring people
of "Middle Eastern and South Asian" descent to undergo additional
security checks because of their ethnicity and religion.
Discussing the recent revelation of an alleged plot in England to
blow up U.S.-bound airliners, the Seaford Republican said yesterday
that, "if the threat is coming from a particular group, I can
understand why it would make sense to single them out for further
King, who has said that all Muslims aren't terrorists but that all
recent terrorists are Muslim, favors an ethnic and religious
profiling scheme that would include foreign and American-born
travelers. "I would give the investigators and screeners a lot of
discretion as to where it ends," he said.
Despite King's endorsement of such a process, it is a technique that
has been widely dismissed as a legitimate law enforcement tool.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, a childhood friend of King's whom the
congressman calls one of the nation's leading counter-terrorism
officials, has previously called racial profiling "nuts" and
"ineffective," and eliminated the practice when he oversaw the U.S.
The U.S. Justice Department issued a policy three years ago banning
racial profiling and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said
yesterday that he doesn't favor the practice.
"I think that, you know, taking action against someone solely
because of their race and solely because of their religion I think
is problematic," Gonzales said.
Bob Levy, senior fellow in constitutional studies with the
Washington-based Cato Institute, a conservative-libertarian think
tank, said racial profiling gradually came into disfavor among law
enforcement officials because "they discovered that this kind of
profiling was very rarely effective in ferreting out useful
He said targeting people based on a range of criteria is a more
operative and constitutionally legitimate tool to stop wrongdoers
than relying on a blanket profile.
"Simply to profile all Muslims with nothing more than that, I think,
would be considered a constitutional problem," Levy said. "Besides,
if you are using a profile it doesn't follow that a profile is
Besides being ineffective, profiling ostracizes a community that
could be essential in helping to combat terrorism, said Ahmed Younis
of the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
"In many ways, it is allowing the terrorists what they want, which
is the betrayal of our constitutional principles and the
disenfranchisement of the communities that we need the most in the
war against extremism and terrorism," he said. "American Muslims are
on the front lines in the war on terrorism and Mr. King's approach
deprives America of her strongest weapon."
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