Think Progress reports: In the wake of the underpants terror plot that caught everyone off guard, former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff says profiling is “arguably dangerous” on Meet the Press:

…when David Gregory asked former Bush CIA director Michael Hayden on Meet The Press today if we are “effectively ethnically profiling” potential terrorism suspects, Hayden pushed back against the idea of ethnic profiling as a solution…

Unsatisfied, Gregory pressed his point to former Bush Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff, saying that counterterrorism officials have told him that religion and ethnicity are more than “contributing factors” because “90 percent” of “these terrorists” are “Islamic males between the ages of 20 and 30.” But Chertoff pushed back, arguing that “relying on preconceptions or stereotypes is actually kind of misleading and arguably dangerous.” Chertoff noted that al Qaeda has intentionally recruited people “who don’t fit the stereotype.

One wonders if such dialogues flourished while these men were still operating under the Bush regime—and if so, why this kind of intellectual nuance didn’t factor prominently in the actual policies that facilitated indiscriminate profiling of anyone who looked like/sounded like/had a last name suggesting that they kind of might be up to something, you know, bad. Just another reminder that even relatively enlightened discussions on the Sunday talk-show circuit are often divorced from the lived reality of racial profiling in our communities.

Crossposted at AirAmerica

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