Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Airport Security: Walking the fine line between safety and racial profiling.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently issued new security directives, taking effect Monday, January 4, for all inbound flights to the United States. The “TSA is mandating that every individual flying into the U.S. from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening. The directive also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandates threat-based and random screening for passengers on U.S. bound international flights.(Official TSA Statement) ” The directives are a response to the recent failed terrorism attempt on Northwest flight 253, flying from Amsterdam into Detroit, Michigan.

These regulations, which recommend 14 countries (Afghanistan, Algeria, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for enhanced screenings, have created a significant amount of controversy, with groups speaking out, both supporting and denouncing the new directives.

CNN provides two opposing views on the issue, which offer your students an excellent opportunity to take a closer look at both sides.

Speaking for the"pro" side of the argument is Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, as well as author and co-author of six books on terrorism and national security. Emerson believes that previous procedures are inadequate and ineffective, and that the new directives are a step in the right direction. He further claims that we cannot ignore that the “overwhelming large majority of terrorist attacks undertaken over the past decade were committed by Islamic fundamentalists.” Emerson’s argument can be found here.

On behalf of the "con" side of the argument is Arsalan Iftikhar, an international human rights lawyer and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com. Iftikhar states that because 13 of the 14 listed countries are Muslim, there is a clear religious profiling, which will not achieve greater security for our county, and could furthermore create easily identified, and potentially exploitable, blind spots. Iftikhar’s argument can be found here.

Have your students read both articles, and discuss opposing opinions. Ask your students which side they support, and why.

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