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U.S. Airports Should Use Racial And Religious Profiling

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  • Asra Nomani on Racial and Religious Profiling

    Clip: Asra Nomani argues for the motion "U.S. Airports Should Use Racial and Religious Profiling."

  • Michael Chertoff on Racial and Religious Profiling

    Clip: Michael Chertoff argues against the motion "U.S. Airports Should Use Racial and Religious Profiling."

Debate Details

On Christmas Day, 2009, twenty-three-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to blow up Northwest Airlines Flight 253 using explosives hidden in his underwear. A string of missed opportunities and errors by government security agencies culminated in what President Obama would declare a “systemic failure.” Is scanning everyone with expensive, high-tech equipment the best use of limited resources? Or should we use the information that we have—the knowledge that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, most terrorists are Muslim.

The Debaters

For the motion

Robert Baer

Author, 'Sleeping with the Devil' and 'See No Evil'.

Was a CIA case officer in the Directorate of Operations from 1976 to 1997, where he served in Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq and Lebanon... Read More

Deroy Murdock

Syndicated columnist, Scripps Howard News Service

Is a syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford... Read More

Asra Q. Nomani

Author, Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam

A former reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 15 years, is the author of Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam. She... Read More

Against the motion

Hassan Abbas

Quaid-i-Azam Professor at SIPA, Columbia University.

Is Quaid-i-Azam Professor at SIPA, Columbia University. He is also a senior advisor at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at... Read More

Debra Burlingame

Co-Founder, 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America, and Keep America Safe.

Is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77 which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September... Read More

Michael Chertoff

Senior of Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP

Served as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009. He is currently Senior of Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Continued investment in Afghanistan is economically misguided. After nearly a decade of combat, the U.S. has committed substantial financial and military resources to the war with few positive results: Afghanistan is increasingly violent and unstable.
  • Tribal divides threaten the agency of any singular governing body, and the Karzai administration has proven to be hopelessly corrupt and inept at creating a cohesive centralized government.
  • The threat of a Taliban insurgency pales in comparison to the global rise of al Qaeda. The United States should transition its efforts to combating terrorism around the world rather than investing its limited resources in the failed occupation of Afghanistan.
Against The Motion
  • If the military fails to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan, the region will again become a safe haven for terrorists and America’s defeat will embolden its enemies to engage in future aggression toward the United States and its interests.
  • While Hamid Karzai is a problematic leader, his administration has cooperated with Americans on key initiatives and has forgone mass violence in the name of political power, which marks progress from previous Afghan leadership.
  • Under General Petraeus’ leadership, the United States has begun a counter insurgency operation that promises to sway Afghan public opinion toward U.S. intervention and build effective governance structures in the country.


  • Live Audience
  • Online Audience
  • Results
  • Breakdown

The Research

The Research

Schneier on Security

Bruce Schneier
July 22, 2005

We Are All Juan Williams

Shankar Vedantam
November 1, 2010

Skip the Grannies: The Case for Airport Profiling

Michael Smerconish
August 17, 2006
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