23 September 2016

Linda Qiu

Harcourt argues that profiling one group diverts resources from examining others outside the group. So while it may help detect attacks in the short term, profiling could backfire in the long term as “it may well encourage the recruitment of terrorists from outside the core profile and the substitution of other terrorist acts.”

Michael Chertoff, Homeland Security secretary from 2005-09, offered a similar take in an Intelligence Squared debate (around the 49:15 mark) over racial profiling, which he called the “lazy man’s way out.”

After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “there was a unanimous belief that racial and religious profiling would be not only ineffective, but counterproductive from a security standpoint,” he said. “The fact is it would be an engraved invitation to al-Qaida to recruit exactly the kind of people who don’t fit the profile.”

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