New Airport Security Measures Promise to Profile Only Select People

By Julianne Hing Apr 03, 2010

The Department of Homeland Security announced today President Obama approved a new "intelligence-based" security system to better identify people believed to be specific threats who are flying into the United States. The new "intelligence-based system" will replace a policy implemented in January that mandated extra screenings of all passengers from fourteen countries like Somalia, Lebanon, Yemen and Pakistan with predominantly Muslim populations. The policy was swiftly enacted as a response to the attempted Christmas Day airplane attack by a man flying into the country from the U.K. The new system will instead comb through people’s family names, nationalities, ages and passport numbers, even their travel histories, and use intelligence reports to alert potential threats. In the new process, folks from all countries and U.S. citizens will be subject to such screenings. DHS authorities are hailing this as a more sophisticated way to track travelers that does not rely on blanket profiling. This gesture from the Obama administration to replace its own kneejerk racism with minimally more reasonable policy is being praised by community members. "We applaud the Obama administration’s new passenger screening policy because it does what security experts and civil libertarians have always asked for–it screens passengers based on actual suspicious behaviors or actions, not on national origin or religion," said Nihad Awad, the National Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in a press release. Awad added: "This new policy is an acknowledgment that racial, religious and ethnic profiling is inefficient and ineffective." Given the alternatives, I suppose there is reason for celebration. It still sounds an awful lot like racial profiling though. A cleaned up and more "intelligent" version, but profiling nonetheless.