As for screening by race, one is left wondering what criteria would be used. Is Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer right when he says the profile of the airline attacker is “narrow, concrete, uniquely definable and universally known”?
Some terrorists, like Chesser, are clearly white. Some, like Abdulmutallab, are black. Jose Padilla, who contemplated setting off a dirty bomb in the U.S., is Hispanic. Colleen Renee LaRose, aka Jihad Jane, is female, blond and blue-eyed. As former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff noted at an Intelligence Squared debate earlier this week in New York City, by focusing exclusively on individuals of Middle Eastern appearance, racial profiling is both “over-inclusive and under-inclusive” at once.
Aviation security is a technical issue. The attempt to turn it into a political one, with charges of political correctness, has dangers of its own. If our security officials do not enjoy public support for measures—unpleasant though they may be—to keep the skies safe, we risk increasing the chances of a deadly lapse in a system with a remarkably impressive record over nine years.