Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Security: Choice between molesting travelers or profiling them


YNET

Should the US adopt Israeli-style airport security measures? A debate over just that issue has been running at full steam over the past few days due to profound public criticism of invasive security techniques which include a full body search and pat down in intimate areas.

House or Representatives delegate for Utah Jason Chaffetz, on Monday called for a probe into methods employed by Transportation Security Administration agents and for a look into alternative methods which would be based on the use of sniffer dogs with secondary use of screening machines and implementing behavioral profiling as Israel does.

In the past, Americans vetoed the security system used at Ben Gurion Airport claiming it casts suspicion on one sector in an inclusive fashion, namely, against Arabs and Muslims. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained on Monday that the reason US authorities refused to adopt Israeli methods was because "Israel has one international airport and we have 450 of them that makes all the difference".

12 comments :

  1. We need to be aware of the difference in raison d'etre of each country.

    Israel is the Jewish State.

    The US is a mosaic of whomever either wanted to be here, or had to be away from somewhere else.

    Profiling is therefore more injurious to the US's national character than it would be to Israel's.

    -micha

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  2. May All the heroes of the Irgun be blessed.November 24, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    If the founding fathers of America could see this, they would be turning in their graves. If they were still alive today, they would certainly profile and adopt an Israeli methodology for airport security!

    Micha, what you have stated is ONE OPINION of what America is supposed to be, the far-left-liberal narrative. However, it was not founded to be a police state which for the sake of "not offending" a certain sector which is more dangerous, they harass the rest of the citizenry who have no reason to be harassed. It is "injurious" to that far-left worldview, but it is not injurious to America's national character to adopt common sense procedures to ensure the citizenry's safety and security.

    Good grief, I almost lost my lunch when I read that.

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  3. It's not a matter of protecting Moslems or some other hyper-left agenda. It's a matter of making laws that will treat people differently based on something other than the content of their character.

    As a member of an oft-persecuted minority, my welcome in the US depends on that line not getting crossed. It's the only thing that keeps this particular democracy from being a tyranny of the majority.

    As the father of a black son, I know what it's like (albeit second hand) to wonder every time you go driving after 11pm in a frum neighborhood if you'll be stopped for "DWB". Happens to my son around 2 or 3 times a year -- despite his yarmulka. That's profiling.

    What the founders of the US would have wanted is something I can only guess at. However, they made sure to favor no religion over another because that in particular was why most of their ancestors came to these shores. E.g. we're talking about people who vetoed a plan for the 13 stars on the US flag to be arranged in a cross.

    But again, the US's raison d'etre isn't the only one countries have been founded on. Nor necessarily the most important.

    -micha

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  4. I second the above poster who opined Micha takes a left of center position.

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  5. May All the heroes of the Irgun be blessed.November 24, 2010 at 6:12 AM

    "It's not a matter of protecting Moslems "

    Did you read the article?

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  6. I think that your title is somewhot misleading.

    "Profiling" implies quite a lot molestation to travelers. The "profiling" the El-Al security does involves very private questions on topics that have nothing to do with the flight or the traveller. It also involves very interusive inspections at random cues a traveler will never be able to identify.

    Therefore, Israeli security checks are often perceived quite negatively, especially to parents traveling with children (children are interrogated alone, not all parents like this).

    I think the best solution is the "naked scan", because at least it involves no touching of private parts and no asking of intrusive questions.

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  7. It seems I wasn't clear when I wrote "It's not a matter of protecting Moslems or some other hyper-left agenda." So let me rephrase:

    My point about America's raison d'etra has nothing to do with saving Moslems in order to prove we're open minded, to be kind to the "WOGs" (pardon the expression) or any other PC agenda.

    The colonies were settled by Protestants who were too different from the Anglican Church to find acceptance in England. This was very much on the mind of the founders of the country when they established freedom of religion. Since then, America grew by receiving wave after wave of immigrants -- Irish, Chinese, German, Italian, Jewish... This is so much part of the American psyche, they put a poem about immigrants on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Liberty = Immigrants??? (Emma Lazarus specifically had welcoming Jews coming to America to escape the pogroms in mind, as this is a cause she personally worked for.)

    Until the 1960s, when racial unrest and the Civil Rights movement led to general ethnic pride, the model was that of a melting pot. The groups came to become American. Today there is an alternative mindset, that of the "glorious mosaic" (the one thing Mayor David Dinkins said that I agree with) -- proud not of being "Americans" but of being "Jewish Americans". (Itself overly assimilationist compared to "American Jews", but that's not the US's issue, it's outs as Jews.)

    Assuming we're speaking of legal immigration -- that's what the US is all about. Being the land of the free. Not the land of the WASP. No matter how much the Protestants who came here in big waves first wish to use that fact to retain their power.

    So, after the 1st, 15th and 19th amendments, it's illegal to treat someone different because of their politics, religion, or ethnicity. And to my mind, that's not just a law, it's what the US was founded on.

    That's the problem with profiling in the US. It runs counter to everything the US stands for since the Mayflower.

    That's not to say anything about what is right or moral. E.g. the US is so much about immigration, it had to marginalize the people who were on the land before them, rather than educate and integrate them.

    However, it does make it difficult in terms of the underpinnings of American gov't and law. You allow profiling of Moslems because 99% of terrorists come from 3% of their population, and you erode the system that allowed a bunch of poor uneducated greenhorn East European Jews find a home here.

    In Israel, there is no such philosophical problems. Israel doesn't exist as a home for "your downtrodden masses yearning to be free" or at least middle-class, with the American dream of a house with a two-car garage. It exists to be a home for Jews that will be a gracious host for others. But it is not designed around those others.

    Actually, my contrast in the two countries founding principles only makes sense if you assume that profiling is in general moral. (Or at least more moral than not protecting people.) That it's only America's founding principle that poses a difficulty.

    -micha

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  8. It seems I wasn't clear when I wrote "It's not a matter of protecting Moslems or some other hyper-left agenda." So let me rephrase:

    My point about America's raison d'etra has nothing to do with saving Moslems in order to prove we're open minded, to be kind to the "WOGs" (pardon the expression) or any other PC agenda.

    The colonies were settled by Protestants who were too different from the Anglican Church to find acceptance in England. This was very much on the mind of the founders of the country when they established freedom of religion. Since then, America grew by receiving wave after wave of immigrants -- Irish, Chinese, German, Italian, Jewish... This is so much part of the American psyche, they put a poem about immigrants on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Liberty = Immigrants??? (Emma Lazarus specifically had welcoming Jews coming to America to escape the pogroms in mind, as this is a cause she personally worked for.)

    Until the 1960s, when racial unrest and the Civil Rights movement led to general ethnic pride, the model was that of a melting pot. The groups came to become American. Today there is an alternative mindset, that of the "glorious mosaic" (the one thing Mayor David Dinkins said that I agree with) -- proud not of being "Americans" but of being "Jewish Americans". (Itself overly assimilationist compared to "American Jews", but that's not the US's issue, it's outs as Jews.)

    Assuming we're speaking of legal immigration -- that's what the US is all about. Being the land of the free. Not the land of the WASP. No matter how much the Protestants who came here in big waves first wish to use that fact to retain their power.

    So, after the 1st, 15th and 19th amendments, it's illegal to treat someone different because of their politics, religion, or ethnicity. And to my mind, that's not just a law, it's what the US was founded on.

    That's the problem with profiling in the US. It runs counter to everything the US stands for since the Mayflower.

    That's not to say anything about what is right or moral. E.g. the US is so much about immigration, it had to marginalize the people who were on the land before them, rather than educate and integrate them.

    However, it does make it difficult in terms of the underpinnings of American gov't and law. You allow profiling of Moslems because 99% of terrorists come from 3% of their population, and you erode the system that allowed a bunch of poor uneducated greenhorn East European Jews find a home here.

    In Israel, there is no such philosophical problems. Israel doesn't exist as a home for "your downtrodden masses yearning to be free" or at least middle-class, with the American dream of a house with a two-car garage. It exists to be a home for Jews that will be a gracious host for others. But it is not designed around those others.

    Actually, my contrast in the two countries founding principles only makes sense if you assume that profiling is in general moral. (Or at least more moral than not protecting people.) That it's only America's founding principle that poses a difficulty.

    -micha

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  9. I think Israel also has a non-discrimination clause somewhere, even if they do not always live up to it, especially not in airport security...

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  10. Micha is 100% correct about the profiling - as an analogy, how understanding would we be if the government had "no choice" but to audit (Orthodox) Jews' finances more frequently than other people's?

    On the other hand, the icing, the wrapping paper and the neat little bow atop this patdown debacle is the utter incompetence that permeates the TSA. They promise that they're not noticing individuals' physical appearance, and comments leak out. They promise they're not saving pictures, and saved pictures leak out. They promise that everyone is being treated equally, and political bigwigs are spared. On the opposite side of the coin, it seems like bloggers and columnists have a 100% success rate at smuggling suspicious materials past security.

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  11. May All the heroes of the Irgun be blessed.November 24, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    If it's so much against America's "raison d'etra" and so detrimental to its national ethos, why do 70% of Americans prefer the Israeli-type security for airports according to the article?

    You can argue that 70% of Americans or more don't really understand what America is all about or supposed to be, and I would accept such an argument, but something tells me you wouldn't make an argument like that. So I'm wondering what you are thinking on that.

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  12. MAthofIbb: People who want safety and privacy in the short term may not be thinking about the effects of their compromises in the long term. IOW, the US is all about individual rights, but people think about personal comfort, not on the level of "all about". They understand -- they just care about selfish things more.

    I didn't say profiling was "detrimental to its national ethos", since I'm not discussing ethics. Rather, if the US takes up steps like racial profiling, it relinquishes its purpose for existence. Not morally or ethically, but functionally. If you can't make a safe country where people are not judged for their skin color or their coreligionists, the grand American experiment failed. Time to close shop and try something else.

    -micha

    ReplyDelete

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