Thom's blog - Tuesday November 23rd, 2010
You need to know this about airport security. As public outrage grows over the airport x-ray body scanners – manufacturers of the machine are taking their fight to Capitol Hill. In the last 5 years – body scanner manufacturers have more than doubled their lobbying expenses with lawmakers. Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff’s Rapiscan Systems spent $80,000 lobbying Congress five years ago – this year they’ve spent almost $300,000. And it’s working – the government has in turn given Chertoff’s company $41.2 million in contracts and the use of the x-ray machines has exploded in recent months around the country – showing that the voice of angry constituents can once again be drowned out by the voice of big corporate cash.
So how do Republicans want to solve the current TSA security fiasco? By screwing over people who may “look like terrorists.” Two words – ethnic profiling. Rather than investigate the machines or reconsider pat down procedures – Republican Congressmen Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Peter Hoekstra of Michigan want to limit the people who get irradiated or groped to only those of a certain ethnic background. In other words – people who don’t look like them. In two separate radio interview – both GOP lawmakers agreed that profiling is something they would advocate for as an alternative. While they are the first two federal lawmakers to endorse profiling at airports – the Conservative media – mainly Fox News and Rush Limbaugh - has been calling on this security tactic since this debate began a few weeks ago. Of course – it’s much easier to advocate for profiling when you don’t fit the profile – nearly every person who has spoken out in favor has been a white male. Besides the inherent racism in profiling – it also doesn’t work and could make our country less safe. The past 3 attempted bombers have not been of Middle Eastern decent – the shoe bomber Richard Reid was a white Jamaican from the UK. The underwear bomber was Nigerian. And “jihad jane” was a blonde American woman. So is profiling really the best idea? Or is it just the next step for the GOP to strip rights away from Muslims. After all – they apparently can’t build mosques in the country anymore.
I want to pass on this thought related to the Hartman show today. It seems that the same people who want airport security to be in the hands of private industry are often the same callers who point to the success of the Israeli screening methods. But that's a government program.
So if you suggest the Israeli approach, government or private is not the real issue here and shouldn't enter into the argument.