05/06/10 — Priority 1: Safety -- Here's a new way to look at Homeland Security and profiling

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Priority 1: Safety -- Here's a new way to look at Homeland Security and profiling

Consider this scenario: A man of Middle Eastern descent is at an airport checkpoint -- and as the head of homeland security you have a choice.

You can take a few extra minutes to check him to see if he really is whom he says he is and that he is not on the no-fly list or is carrying anything in his luggage that could endanger hundreds of lives.

Or you could do a random check of an 83-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair to be "fair."

The consequence of the second choice is that someone who escaped "profiling" is at that very moment at a gate ready to board a plane with the intent of hurting someone or something in defense of his radical Islamic beliefs.

And because of that missed opportunity to stop him, several hundred innocent people will die.

When you look at it that way, doesn't it change the perspective just a bit?

Profiling is not necessarily an attempt to harass a particular race or religion. It is a chance to catch lawbreakers and potentially dangerous suspects before they have the chance to hurt someone else.

It can be done responsibly -- despite what race-profiteers like the Rev. Al Sharpton say. It is not a civil rights issue -- it is a safety concern and a reasonable way to enforce law.

It becomes a civil rights issue when it is not regulated and becomes random prejudice -- and there are laws against that. Those who abuse it or who behave improperly in the conduct of such stops should be punished with the same fervor as those who broke the law in the first place.

Making sure this nation's laws are obeyed and that its citizens are safe should remain Job 1.

Published in Editorials on May 6, 2010 10:46 AM