Good Eugene Robinson column on “Jihad Jane” and security profiling


Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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14 Responses

  1. MadRocketScientist says:

    And yet all the terrorism screening failed to catch the Underwear bomber, while regular police work caught Jihad Jane. Screening can only address what has already been tried, it fails to deal with creativity. That is not to say we should have no screening, nor should we have discriminatory screening based on external features (that causes the same problem, once the bad guys know what is being screened for), but we should realize that screening has a point of diminishing returns, and we’ve long gotten past that point.Report

    • Scott in reply to MadRocketScientist says:

      We in the US don’t have “screening,” we have security theater which masquerades as “screening.” If you want real screening go fly El Al.Report

      • greginak in reply to Scott says:

        wow i always thought those metal detector and x ray machines did something. who knew?Report

        • MadRocketScientist in reply to greginak says:

          All they do is cause bad guys to plan around them, they don’t even slow them down much.Report

          • greginak in reply to MadRocketScientist says:

            ummm well forcing the bad guys to come up with more elaborate or difficult schemes is actually part of the purpose. I’m no fan of the security theater, but jets aren’t exactly falling out of sky due to terrorist attacks now are they?Report

            • Scott in reply to greginak says:

              If the X-mass bomber’s bomb had worked we would have seen hundreds dead when a little racial profiling would have stopped him. What is the point of searching old white grandmothers when we know who the terrorists are? When will the squeamish liberals wake up?Report

              • greginak in reply to Scott says:

                oh so you didn’t actually pay any attention to what happened with the undie bomber. profiling was irrelevant, we had good intell, that went far beyond any need to profile. and isn’t the point of the jihad jane piece that you cant tell who is a bad guy by f’ing looking at them.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                But we didn’t use it. What saved us from the junk bomber was stupid luck. Had he not jiggled some connections loose, we’d have had a gaping hole in the side of that airplane.

                Now, this is *NOT* me saying “we need to institute profiling!”

                I don’t think we do.

                I do think that what we are doing is not working and, since it’s not working, we’d probably be better off with pre-9/11 security.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Umm so what isnt’ working and how do you know that? There are many, many different security measures, which ones are useful and which aren’t.

                taking shoes off is almost certainly stupid.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Well, let’s see… of the top of my head, I’ve got No Fly Lists and confiscation of bottled water (and/or all liquids of amounts greater than 3.4 ounces).

                The liquids thing really bugs me because they take these potential binary explosives and throw them into a 55-gallon drum with all of the other potential binary explosives… they treat potential binary explosives as if they were about as harmless as a bottle of water or tube of toothpaste.Report

              • MadRocketScientist in reply to greginak says:

                Even the binary explosives thing is stupid. Getting binary explosives to work is tricky at best, and in the limited facilities of an aircraft, even more so.
                Powerful explosives in the hands of amateurs (the kind that can make gaping holes with small amounts) usually either fizzle out (because they made them too stable, see the underwear bomber) or explode far too early, killing the bomber/bomb maker before they reach their target. And professional bomb-makers (generally) aren’t interested in performing local detonation, so they have to hand the bomb off to an amateur at some point.
                Of course, these days, a small bang seems to terrify people and government almost as well as a big bang does. I can’t wait until some knucklehead lights a bag of firecrackers on board and DHS looses their minds.Report

            • MadRocketScientist in reply to greginak says:

              They weren’t exactly falling out of the sky before 9/11 either.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    The last time we flew to Canada, Maribou and I were selected for “additional screening”.

    To my eternal shame, I found myself thinking “oh, good… we get to skip the line.”Report