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Terrorist profiles most certainly do work.

I really thought that people had permanently gained a touch of hardheaded wisdom from the attacks of 2001.  It saddens and frustrates me to see Bruce Schneier and Joel, two brilliant people whom I respect, settle back into their old comfortable sermonizing against the unpleasent *unfairness* of profiling. 
Bruce tries to prove that "[t]errorists are a surprisingly diverse group of people" by pointing out that while dozens of young, foreign born Arab men have died or been caught fighting al-Queda's war on the USA from within America's borders over the past decade, there are, gosh, at least a handful of other terrorists who don't fit that profile.  There's young male convict Jose Padilla (prison convert to Islam), young male convict Richard Reid (prison convert to Islam), young male John Muhammed (convert to Islam), and young male Timothy McVeigh.  Yeah Bruce, real diverse.  If you think this looks like a random sampling of society, I'd like to know where you hang out. 
While it’s true that data mining profiling isn’t very effective, a quick in-person size-up by an experienced cop is.  Unfortunately, our government has based its airport security policy on the same happy-face willful ignorance about the nature and origin of the al-Queda threat that ensured that the 19 hijackers would never be stopped by American law enforcement before they struck.  Bruce and Joel must be pleased.  Better to be attacked than discriminate, right?

Ethan Herdrick
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I suspect that if you asked Jefferson and Washington that question, their answer would be a qualified "yes" -- qualified only because I suspect they would want to take into account the extent of the intrusion.

Really ... what separates our society from the rest of the world, if not continued vigilance regarding the Bill of Rights?

Zahid
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Profiling is pointless.  Take 6 billion people, give 90% of the the disposable wealth to 5% or less of that population, step back and let develop.

You might say there are similarities between these people,
but those similarities alone don't account for their behaviour because for each one of them there are thousands and millions of others with the same background and beliefs and religon that would not do the same thing.

And if you target or filter this population with such a gross and ill defined sieve all that you do is convert more of the millions that wouldn't into those that might.

Apart from actually dealing with the issues which enable terrorist organisations to recruit and gain support the point defence against terrorism is vigilance.  Not vigilance against a group but against behaviour, packages that are left, cars that are stolen, cars that are hired for cash; and not vigilance by the authorities but by everyone.

Not suspicion against individuals but behaviour.  To depend upon profiling is to arm the terrorist with the weapon of invisibility. 

Within the first few days and weeks of 9th September there was the possibility of educating everyone and of realising there are consequences to the way the world is managed economically (and that's not to finger the US, we're all culpable), and there are ways to change so that we do remain relatively free.

That instead military action and crude financial laws were used is a pity but one that Al-Quaeda and others could profitably count upon.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Profiling not only doesn't work it improves the chances of the potential terrorist.

http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue7_10/chakrabarti/

John Ridout
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I liked this quote, "Even grandmothers can be tricked into carrying bombs on board. "

This kind of thing actually happened, except to a girlfriend, not a grandmother.  In the 80s an Irish woman, pregnant with her boyfriend's child, was sent on a flight to Israel to meet her Palestinian boyfriend's family. Her boyfriend would come on a "later flight." As it turned out the boyfriend placed a bomb in his girlfriend's baggage.

El Al security in England believed her to be suspicious according to "set criteria" -- yes, profiling -- because they saw this kind of thing before; non-Jewish woman with a Palestinian boyfriend travelling by herself to Israel who did not pack her own luggage.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2001/09/12/israelisecurity.htm

In this case profiling worked. Sorry if I'm not being politically correct, but people have to take responsibility for their actions. If you and/or your leaders support terrorism you will be targeted as possible suspects.

Yoav
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

We've let the security industry take over our lives. By creating a climate of fear they are able to increase their own power, influence and profits.

Combine the flood of dodgy threat warnings with the global spread of US-style litigousness, and you get a society where it is just too much trouble to do anything more than walk out the front door.

No wonder "cocooning" is the trend of today.

HeWhoMustBeConfused
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

You live by the sword you die by the sword.

That's why all of the people that live in warring nations (US, Israel, Palestine, etc etc) will never be in peace.
Too bad for the other people living in other parts of the world as they sometime will suffer also from time to time, albeit in the lesser degree.

Racial profiling is only a small cure, but it will NEVER work in the long run. You can say that to save a x number of lives will be worth the fuss, but in the end the total number will still be greater than if more constructive attitude is taken.

Zuhud
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

I agree with Zuhud somewhat.
Just re-watch Bowling for Columbine. Remember the scene where Michael Moore interviewed the 3 Canadian teenagers? And the girl said that the American has this 'fighting' attitude toward anything. Well, there's a positive to that, I mean the US of A will not become the dominant country in the world right now without that competitiveness, but in the other hand sometimes it can be a negative also.

The same also applies to the capitalistic zeal of the American people, sometimes I'm convinced it also affecting to the policy to other countries taken by American politician, especially since the political landscape is much more dominated by internal matters, so sometimes other country felt just a like a pawn to this political game - much more than in other country.

Lee Chew Poh
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

You know, this whole debate reminds me of another debate: Does violence depicted in the media (TV, film, music, video games) lead to more violence in society? Either you believe, yes, most terrorists are Muslim, or not. Both sides make many arguments....

Yoav
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Yoav,

I read the article, the bomb was detected because all luggage was was examined by bomb-detecting equipment. I t was not the profiling that did it.

John Ridout
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

If we were looking at a medical screening procedure, we'd throw anything with a 99+ % false positive rate. Particularly as it also has a notable false negative rate. Why then is 'security' different?

You cannot have a 'war' on terrorism. It doesn't work. It has never worked. And it never will work. Violence and oppression only begat more violence.

Mr Jack
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A mexican comedian on profiling:

"Hey if you stop me in the airport and look through my bags for hub caps, fine.  But if you are looking for terrorist items you might want to check Aaaakkmhaad instead of me or grandma."

This political correct bullshit has got to go.

Milton
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

[Just re-watch Bowling for Columbine. Remember the scene where Michael Moore interviewed the 3 Canadian teenagers?]

Much as I enjoy reading Moore, for the sheer entertainment, virtually nothing in "Bowling" should be taken as even having a passing acquaintance with "fact".

anon
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

[You cannot have a 'war' on terrorism. It doesn't work. It has never worked. And it never will work. Violence and oppression only begat more violence.
]

Your values are skewed.

Given that the terrorists have not achieved their goals, we are winning. In fact, I don't believe there has never been a successful terrorism campaign that did not eventually involve conventional warfare in some way.

The British managed to put down a communist terrorist insurgency in Malaya from '48-57. I also don't hear much about Baider-Meinhoff, Red Brigades, or many other organizations that were big news in the last century. Terrorists also do not hijack aircraft (at least for the purposes of extortion) anymore because they know it is a 100% guaranteed death sentence.

Don't kid yourself into believing that this war will go away if we just hand Israel over to the Palestinians. The perversion of Islam that is Saudi Wahabism is not that easily bought. The real shame in all this is that the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire has simply allowed much of the arabic (note ARABIC, not mulsim) world to dodge tough questions about the problems in their own countries.

anon
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Either the guy who wrote this doesn't know that profiling is based on probabilities and not hard facts as he suggest (if he understands the concept of probabilities at all) or he knows and understands it, and twists it so it fits his political aims, which is worse. Profiling doesn't single out one single group as the writer suggests, it is based on a combination of factors.

I'm very dissapointed with Joel that he didn't recognize this obvious piece of lying and deceipt for what it is and that he put a link this article up on his site. I hope he sticks with software development related topics from now on.

x
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

John Ridout:

I slightly erred here: "El Al security in England believed her to be suspicious according to "set criteria" -- yes, profiling -- because they saw this kind of thing before; non-Jewish woman with a Palestinian boyfriend travelling by herself to Israel who did not pack her own luggage."

I should've said: El Al security, today, profiles young, single, non-Jewish women travelling by themselves to Israel because of an incident involving an Irish woman back in the 80s....

Apparently, the agent was suspicious about something with this woman's story and decided to check her bags more closely, and found the bomb.

Thanks for the note.

Yoav
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

terrorism for political movement might go away but not terrorism as a means to fight opression from occupier.
the 2nd kind of terrorism only stops only for one of these reasons: 1. the balance of power is shifted to the opressed (hence they will have a means to fight using conventional method) 2. the opressor is being defeated 3. total annihilation of the opressed

sonny
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Has anyone read the programers stone? The logic behind these profiles sounds very "ghost not" inspired dont they?

Even if all terrorists were arab males with long beards by definition, it doesnt increase the likelyhood of the dude infront of you being a terrorist just because he fits the description.

Eric DeBois
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

[the 2nd kind of terrorism only stops only for one of these reasons]

Didn't see a reason there for the negotiated settlement in Northern Ireland. Did someone get annihilated while I was out?

anon
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

A few thoughts:

Profiling isn't intended to "work" as a method of increasing the probability of detecting terrorists.  It is intended to spare resources used for this detection.  Terrorists are so incredibly rare, that if you want to use the silly medical test analogy of an earlier post, it is worse than a zebra.  It is the rarest diease ever.  Any increase in the sensitivity of the test will be almost imperceptible in terms of the predictive value of a positive result because of the rareness of the condition.  What it does allow, however is to do the same job with fewer resources, i.e. to make terrorists think they are likely to be caught before accomplishing their missions.

Second, although it is possible that most terrorists (whatever your definition) are not young male arabs/muslims, I think it is pretty obvious that most terrorists who are likely to attack the United States currently, are.  Sure we had the Oklahoma City bombing, and in the first half of the 20th century we had the KKK, but our current problem is with extremist muslims.

Third, Al Quaeda did not attack us because of the Israel-Palestine issue.  They attacked us because they want to unseat the royals of Saudi Arabia (a noble goal) and replace it with something (in my opinion) worse.  There are plenty of terrorists on the Israel thing.  Al Quaeda really isn't one of them.

Fourth, the idea that refusing to participate in violence will shield one from violence is so obviously wrong and stupid to anyone who has ever read any history, or played in a school yard, that it is extremely difficult to restrain myself from an ad hominem attack.

Fifth, profiling on the basis of race is probably a violation of the equal protection clause of the Constitution.  Profileing on the basis of behavior, probably not.  On the other hand if we define the situation as intelligence in a hot war then maybe that argument goes out the window.

Sixth, Terrorism cannot be defeated by homeland defense.  The real solution lies in giving people in the arab nations a different way, some hope, some, dare I hope, democracy?

Name withheld out of cowardice
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Am I the only one who remembers that the D.C. snipers eluded capture for 2 weeks, in part because most people were looking for olive-skinned men in a white van?

Devil's Advocate
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

On October 11, 1798, President John Adams addressed the officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts in a letter: "We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

Jason Watts
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Some occasions where insurgency and/or terrorism succeeded in its political aims.

Mau Mau, Kenya:  Jomo Kenyatta became an African hero much as Nelson Mandela is now.
Aden: although as its been constantly at war or owned by gangsters since Mad Mitch left this is a dubious case.
Algeria French debacle
Saudi Arabia, and all of the former Ottoman posessions outside of Turkey (see T.E. Lawrence)
Israel: You remember the King David Hotel bombing?
Kmer Rouge
ANC


No doubt others could think of more, and no doubt some might be seen as justified causes by some and justified methods as well.  I'm not making a judgement either way.

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Profiling by race/ethnicity/religion is bad.

Of the terrorists mentioned above 3 are Muslim. Two are not (Timothy McVeigh and that Irish woman). That means you would miss 2 in 5 of the terrorists just profiling by religion. Those are pretty crappy odds in my opinion.

To profile by religion you also need to know people's religion. Letting the government collect that information is VERY wrong.

I would prefer that people profile by things that matter - like people with knives/guns/bombs.

NathanJ
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Profiling is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Think about the logic - if you only check people with white shirts for drugs, then over time all your drug arrests will be from people with white shirts. And you'll use this to justify searching the white-shirted people.

Meanwhile, many of the smarter drug smugglers will be giving their drugs to people with red shirts...

Regarding airlines, what are our fears?
1) Takeover of the aircraft
2) Bombs

IMHO, with proper management, (1) will never happen again - look at the number of times people have been tackled just by acting "suspicious" on an aircraft. The only reason 9/11 happened was forty years of the government and AOPA saying "don't resist hijackers."  Those days are gone.
Let's face it - a box cutter is NOT a threatening weapon, unless you allow yourself to be threatened. I think the whole "find any blade" thing needs to go away - just go back to metal detectors and xrays.

Arm the pilots, give the flight attendants tasers, and keep pushing the Air Marshal program and this whole thing is a nonissue.

And I believe (2) is being addressed (and should be pushed hard) with bomb-detection technology.

And then you'll note that profiling isn't needed.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

In all this discussion we are making the silly assumption that the next attack will be the same as the last.  The "fly airliners into buildings gag" won't work anymore.  The next thing will be something else.

Also, the DC snipers didn't elude capture because the police were busy profiling Arab men.  They eluded capture because their scheme was so good.  Random targets plus shooting from the trunk of a car.  How are you going to catch them excpet by luck or them betraying themselves.

Name withheld out of cowardice
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Philo said: "Profiling is a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Reminds me of the commercial playing lately around here, that says something to this effect:

"1 out of 3 drivers tested for drug used tested positive for marijuana.  It is more dangerous than you think."

they put the emphasis in the commerical on the 1 out of 3, and the "tested positive for marijuana," like they are apt to do in commercials.  I didn't even catch the "tested for drug use" line until the 2nd or third time I watched it.

I want to know the statistics of how many people that weren't tested were high.  Then it would be relevant...  They wouldn't test people obviously sober.

Andrew Hurst
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

“Also, the DC snipers didn't elude capture because the police were busy profiling Arab men.  They eluded capture because their scheme was so good. “

I want to add that in US the Police can’t stopn or open your trunk without probable cause. The snipers would have been caught in a number of European countries where police can stop everybody and search without a reason.

19th floor
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The DC snipers would have been caught if the gov't hadn't withheld what it knew about them. When the info leaked, they were caught quickly.

That's what's scary about the current profiling system: they won't tell you anything, not even how to get your name off the 'can never fly again never mind the freedom to travel' list.

The thing is, profiling can work, especially based profiling based on behaviors: non-local girlfriend traveling before local boyfriend often translates to unwitting mule.

I would bet that most of what counterpane does is to 'profile' the network events of their customers, to determine which events warrant response.

It's just the combination of 'correlation != causation' and 'can't figure out what the gov't is doing' which makes the trends scary. Too bad that's not what the article was about.

mb
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

one more thing--in the US, police stop people all the time based off of profiles. ever heard of the 'crime' DWB?

mb
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

(1) Get real. Terrorists and ordinary criminals are neither clever nor intelligent. If you believe otherwise you've watched way too much Hollywood flicks.
(2) The hunting investigators are really just officers in most cases, so they are not as clever or intelligent as they need to be to track down terrorists either.
(3) There's a multi-billion dollar industry out there who makes money out of "securing" our lives, or informing us about "threats", or selling "countermeasures". Just as knowing that "the knowledge is out there, you can't put the genie back in the bottle", you have to face that "the industry is out there, the threat will always be there until this industry folds".
(4) Since 9/11 there's millions of people out there, not only in the US, who make a living out of investigating/researching/profiling threats/security risks/terrorists. If you try to put theses people out of work, politicians will be angry with you. If you start to argue with one "expert" who's either an academic who received funding for researching any public security topic, or offering "technology" to spot terrorists in public crowds, you'll certainly win the argument, but certainly will not prevent this guy to sell his expertise or technology to politicians, who then will sell this success story to their prospective voters.
(5) The probability to been hit by an asteroid's splinter in most places on earth is still larger than being a victim of a terrorist attack. What do we do to prevent asteroids crossing our atmosphere?

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

So we all agree that .NET is good?

offbase
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Leaving aside the civil rights issues for a moment, part of the problem with profiing is that people tend to overuse it.  Profiling is only valuable as a guide.  If you start to use it as your sole criteria for deciding things (as many people seem to argue we should be doing, ie "why pull over the hispanic instead of the arab"), you defeat the purpose of finding terrorists.  Terrorists are not stupid.  If you think they are you're incredibly naive.  If they see that certain segments of the population are more likely to be discovered (ie young arab males) they will find other people to perform their attack.  There are plenty of people in the world who dislike the US government, and only a fraction of them are young arab males.

Mike McNertney
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Potential notion..

Profiles are most effective if not disclosed.

If a terrorist knows that arabs will be screened extra, they will go out of their way to find non-arabs to sneak in.  The shoebomber is a good example of this.

However, it's also impossible to keep a secret that every security screener needs to know, unless you really trust each and every screener (I wouldn't)

Overall, the way I look at is that we could have prevented 9/11 if we had banned every person who had the name of "Mohammed Atta" from air travel, you know. ;)  The effective terrorist is one who doesn't do what you expect them to.  That's terror.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Terrorists are stupid. If they were not stupid they'd find other ways to reach their goals than planting bombs etc.

Also, note that relying on a "system" with builtin "intelligence" is one of the human design patterns (cf. other thread below) which is extensively used e.g. in controlling, company steering, market research, etc. Google is another good example. People just WANT to believe that someone has invented a machine (or software system) that automagically solves all their problems. This scheme goes back to Leibniz (b. 1646, d. 1716) who at one point believed any problem humanity faces can be solved by stuffing an appropriate number of mathematicians into a room and let them calculate the solution.

Johnny Bravo
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Ethan,

I totally disagree with you on this point.  The more we profile, the more we create an environment of us and them.  That harbors inequality.  Inequality creates resentment and hatred, which leads to anger, and more fighting.  You see the problem?  Peace at some level means equality.  I'll let you in a secret.  That's ALL this country has going for it.  That's the one thing that makes it great, and the ONE thing worth fighting for.

If this country loses that we are doomed. Condoning racial comments by high ranking military officials is just one example of how equality continues to be jeopardized. 

christopher baus (tahoe, nv)
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

<quote>
Much as I enjoy reading Moore, for the sheer entertainment, virtually nothing in "Bowling" should be taken as even having a passing acquaintance with "fact".
</quote>

Don't like the message, want to shoot the messenger?  Instead of just believing in whatever message appeals to your prejudices, why don't you start thinking for yourself?

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/wackoattacko/

anontoo
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

[Don't like the message, want to shoot the messenger?  Instead of just believing in whatever message appeals to your prejudices, why don't you start thinking for yourself?

http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/wackoattacko/
]

Bwahahahaha.

I thought I WAS thinking for myself. I've read all of Moore's books, excluding the latest. Mostly because he's a funny guy, but also to get his point of view. Bowling for Columbine and Stupid White Men both had NUMEROUS documented falacies and exagerations.

I don't know what message appeals to you. Personally, I prefer my propaganda be right wing, but I am a little partial to the truth.

anon
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"Condoning racial comments by high ranking military officials is just one example of how equality continues to be jeopardized."

I believe it was a religous insult you are referring to, not racial, unless there is another case I'm not aware of?

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

>The effective terrorist is one who doesn't do what you expect them to.  That's terror. <

Indeed. True evil never announces itself. That's what makes it so insidious.

This Space for Rent
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Johnny Bravo, terrorists, at least the leadership thereof, are many things but they are not dumb.

The terrorists are out to get their way with no comprimises.  And there's generally not enough money for them to actually start an army, nor are there enough people behind them to have a people's revolt.

The general goal is to not have to make any comprimises.  Negotiation will take forever and generally requires you to give up some of what you want.

Generally, at least some of the terrorist's desires will be met in time.  It will inspire great fear, more than you could do with the money and people you have in any other way.

I mean, if Al Queda had convinced the Taliban to attack the US using their military, it would have been like a hedgehog squished under a tank tread.  But Al Queda did manage to change the entire US mindset for the forseeable future, really screw up a bunch of businesses, *and* the US has yet to catch the "important" folks.

It's wrong to assume that intelligent people will always turn  to negotiations instead of combat.  The smart people are the ones who want things changed, instead of dousing their troubles with the mind-bending substance of choice for a given area.

It is wrong to assume that intelligent people won't use suicide bombers.  Note that the leaders aren't the ones doing suicide attacks.  ;)  It's basic psychology from there.

Flamebait Sr.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Michael Moore is an anti-American fruit cake that should never be taken seriously. A detailed analysis of his Bowling for Columbine docu-mendacity is at http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=6841

and at

http://www.opinionjournal.com/forms/printThis.html?id=110003233

Mike Sivertsen
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

This thread got boring, real quick!  I just came in here to post something from my personal experience:

In the city and state I live in, I am a half-hour drive to 6 malls.  I am an hour drive to something like 10+ malls.  From the time that I was 19 to the time that I was 24, I shoplifted.  I, unfortunately, was really good at it (not something to be proud of -- but a facts a fact).  I am white, have blonde hair, and have blue eyes.

At one point, I went from doing some shoplifting every now and then by myself .. to doing it a lot, but with other people. 

The friends I had, at that time of my heaviest shoplifting, were black.  This made it *extremely* easy for me and said friends.

Tell me, what race are most store security going to profile as a potential shoplifter (Having a choice between white and black)?

I would send in one of my black friends who would go and set up the particular store we were going to hit.  Security would be ...  up ... their ... ass.  Later on, little old white bread me would come in and take all the goods.  In and out without even an afterthought.

So, when you are judging whether to become pro/con profiling , just remember this little story.

I_Am_Not_A_Criminal!
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

"Take 6 billion people, give 90% of the the disposable wealth to 5% or less of that population, step back and let develop."

Did someone 'give' 90% of the wealth to 5%? Who gave it?

And what do you think would happen in this scenario:

"Take 1.4 billion people in China, give 99% of the the disposable wealth to 0.1% or less of that population, step back and let develop."

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, October 23, 2003

> knives/guns/bombs

NathanJ,

Kindly answer the following question for me as I am curious to the answers:

1. How many of the 9/11 terrorists had knives, guns, and /or bombs with them?
2. How many of the 9/11 terrorists were Muslims?

After you have answered these questions, I have an observation I wish to make.

Thank you.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, October 23, 2003

"So we all agree that .NET is good?"

Well at least it's not written by those nasty commie terrorist hackers that write Linux.


Thursday, October 23, 2003

Which made me think - if the GPL is communist, and some terrorists are communists, does that mean Stallman is a terrorist?

McArthy
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Dennis,

1) I don't know. Supposedly none.

2) Supposedly all.

But...

Muslims make up one of the largest demographics in the world. Are we going to screen all of them?

Please answer this:
3) How many muslims blew up the Oklahoma building?
4) How many muslims kill British police in the UK?
5) How many muslims murder abortion providers in the south?

NathanJ
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Why is it abortion "providers" instead of abortion "performers"?

Name withheld out of cowardice
Thursday, October 23, 2003

If a woman says she was raped by a chinese man, it's not racism if the police focus their search on asian looking guys that have been seen lurking in the area. They should keep their eyes open but the smart thing is to focus on the area most likely to provide results.

In the current organized terrorist environment, it seems the overwhelming majority of terrorists are muslims. Also involved are their unknowing non-muslim girlfriends, etc. So if you are a muslim (including a black american serviceman muslim, as in the sniper case), or the girlfriend of a muslim travelling alone, it makes sense to look a little closer at you.

Americans are scrutinized closely today when travelling in China because they still see the US as the enemy.

Americans travelling in the USSR were scrutinized closely because it was reasonable to suspect they were spies.

Chinese guys walking along in a neighborhood who fit the description of rape gang members in the area may be stopped and questioned.

It's basic law enforcement.

As to the examples you gave, please provide some documentation that police have focused on muslims during ANY search looking for abortionist-killers.

Also, I was not aware that the 'south' was a hotbed for these incidents, of which there have been what, three in this continent total since 1492, all done by individuals working alone? Hardly a major threat -- there have been far more incidents of disgruntled workers and students shooting their associates.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, October 23, 2003

There are at least three disadvantages to profiling. Firstly it can kill intuition. Humans are very good at picking up the lttle signs which they can't even put into words. If they're following a profiling program they are going to be working to the manual rather than trusting their intuition, and also so much more time is going to be put into following the profiling guidelines that is little left for following up anythng else.

Secondly it may increase the risk from terrorism by alienating so many of those that are profiled, that they do not see it as part of their duty to co-operate with the authorities. After all the people in a black neighbourhood that are most likely to know about the muggers and crack dealers are the  other blacks in the neighbourhood, but if you keep abusing the "suss" laws you get very little co-operation from them.

Thirdly it means that those who are not profiled do not suffer the incovenience, and thus are quite prepared to countenance further counter-productive measures. And they view those who are profiled as somehow deseriving of it, and thus further alienate themselves.

And profiling only works with hindsight. Up until 11th September young middle class Saudis studying in the States would have come very low down on any terrorist profile.

Just as a matter of interest who can say what group has most suicide bombings under its belt, what religion(s) its members are, and what is the distribution between the sexes. Take 2002 as a cut-off point. Answers, wild guesses or otheriwise, may be posted here through a letter bomb.

Stephen Jones
Thursday, October 23, 2003

--
As to the examples you gave, please provide some documentation that police have focused on muslims during ANY search looking for abortionist-killers.
--

I was not suggesting that police focused on muslims for these crimes. My point is that non-Muslims also commit terrorist attacks.

Your Chinese example is interesting. Instead of looking for the rape suspect what if you started hassling all Chinese men on a date just because a Chinese rapist had been discovered? Replace Chinese man with Black man. Sounds more like lynching than profiling to me.

NathanJ
Thursday, October 23, 2003

You're saying we're lynching muslims then? I must have dozed off during htat part of the news.

Dennis Atkins
Thursday, October 23, 2003

"I must have dozed off during htat part of the news."

It came up during a debate among the Democratic Presidential Candidates and also during an interview with Michael Moore.

(And yes, I'm kidding.)

Jim Rankin
Thursday, October 23, 2003

I refer readers to:
http://tinyurl.com/rffh

Imagine the following scenario:

Federal agents arrest a Muslim man, a member of a radical sect, living in Michigan on gun and drug charges. When they search his home, they discover a bunker containing a cache of weapons and explosives worthy of an army: an anti-aircraft gun capable of firing 550 rounds per minute up to four miles away, machine guns, explosives, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and booby traps. Investigators also find pictures of President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with scope cross-hairs drawn over them.

How do you suppose the media would handle that story?

My guess that if it didn't lead the evening news, it would be reported on it. It would at least be above the fold in many newspapers, and almost certainly would be a hot topic of conversation among the nation's radio talk-show hosts. Michael Savage would have a field day.

But what happens when, instead, the circumstances are identical, and the suspect is a white man associated with a militia unit?

It gets buried in the Grand Rapids Press. And that's about it.

Adam
Friday, October 24, 2003

----"You're saying we're lynching muslims then? I must have dozed off during htat part of the news. "----

The bit of the news you dozed off on is where they are arresting respectable Molsem middle class doctors on suss, and keeping them in jail for months without charge.

Probably less common now than directly after 9/11 but still the kind of thing that would cause CNN, Congress and the State Department to bring out all the guns if the boot was on the other foot, and Egypt or Pakistan did it to white American Christians.

Another trick is to deport people to countries where standard safeguards don't apply for that very reason. A case is that of the Syrian/Canadian with dual nationality who was arrested at the Canadian/US border and sent to Syria.

Stephen Jones
Friday, October 24, 2003

Ethen:

I think you're out of your fricking mind to believe such crap. Don't be a sucker of whatever they tell you. Have some perspective, stop being a loser.

offbase
Friday, October 24, 2003

Adam

I couldn't agree more, I guess Ethan is so hooked to CNN and Fox.

offbase
Friday, October 24, 2003

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