Palin to TSA: “Profile away”

Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, much like many of her Fox News colleagues recently, has decided to publicly advocate for racial profiling in response to the new airport screening procedures. In two November 19 posts on her Twitter page, Palin demanded that the Transportation Security Administration do just that, writing: “we profile individuals/suspects in other situations! profile away.”

A few minutes later, she wrote:

Palin has long held the view that the government should use profiling in efforts to prevent terrorism.

Two weeks after the shooting at Fort Hood in 2009, Palin sat down with Fox News' Sean Hannity and said she was “all for” profiling “in the context of doing whatever we can to save innocent American lives.”

PALIN: There were massive warning flags that were missed all over the place and I think it was quite unfortunate that, to me, it was a fear of being politically incorrect to not -- I'm gonna use the word -- profile this guy; profiling, in the sense of finding out what his radical beliefs were -- the simple things, like looking at his business card that had the secret code word for who it was that he actually --

HANNITY: How about contacting Al Qaeda?

PALIN: Well, yeah, that too.

HANNITY: Well, trying to contact Al Qaeda.


PALIN: I say profiling, in the context of doing whatever we can to save innocent American lives -- I'm all for it, then.

During a November 2009 phone interview with Matthew Continetti of The Weekly Standard, Palin again advocated for profiling, deriding a “culture of political correctness and other decisions that 'prevented ... profiling' of someone with Hasan's extremist ideology.” From Continetti's post:

I asked about Palin's upcoming visit to Ft. Hood. “We had planned on that before the tragedy struck,” she said. She commented on the trail of evidence linking the alleged Ft. Hood shooter, Maj. Nidal Hasan, to militant Islam. “There were such clear, obvious, massive warning signs that were missed,” she said. “This terrorist, even having business cards” that identified him as an “SoA” or soldier of Allah. Palin blamed a culture of political correctness and other decisions that “prevented -- I'm going to say it -- profiling” of someone with Hasan's extremist ideology. “I say, profile away,” Palin said. Such political correctness, she continued, “could be our downfall.” If the upcoming investigations into the attack reveal bad decision-making on the part of senior officials, Palin continued, those officials ought to be fired.

As we recently noted, conservative media figures, including several Fox News figures and frequent guests, have used the current public backlash against the enhanced security screenings at U.S. airports as an opportunity to renew their call for racial profiling. Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy said, “I like the idea of the profiling”; Bill O'Reilly stated: “I don't mind the government profiling”; Hannity called Israel's practice of using profiling a “paradigm” and a “model that is enormously successful”; and Juan Williams asked: “What about profiling?” Charles Krauthammer also argued in favor sof the practice, writing: “The only reason we continue to do [inspections and pat downs] is that people are too cowed to even question the absurd taboo against profiling.”

Ann Coulter, for her part, was even more blunt, saying, “It's only because our terrorists are from third-world countries that we will not even look at profiling them -- the only thing that would make any difference at all.” The next day, she said:

COULTER: I have a little system I've worked up. I like to call it profiling. It's the only advantage we have in this war, that the enemy looks exactly alike. And if the 9-11 terrorists, the shoe bomber, the diaper bomber, the printer cartridge bomber -- if they had all come from Swedes we would be looking for Swedes and nobody would be making a peep about it.

It's only because it's Muslims that we refuse to use the only advantage we have.

However, several national security experts have termed such policies ineffective. Bush administration Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff has said that “relying on preconceptions or stereotypes is actually kind of misleading and, arguably, dangerous.” In a February 2009 article, The New York Times reported on a report finding that "[t]oo great a dependence on profiling passengers by ethnicity or nationality is an ineffective way to conduct airport screening to catch terrorists." The Times added: “In fact, the model predicts that limited profiling would be more efficient.”

The report's author, University of Texas computational biologist and computer scientist Dr. William H. Press, was quoted as saying: “We have been told that strong profiling will somehow find and siphon off the worst offenders and we'll be safe. It's not true. The math does not support that.”