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I. "The stars of my hypothetical example, Richard Reid, Jose Padilla, and Abu Bakar Bashir, were all young Muslim men. The point is that you cannot necessarily deduce someone's religion from their appearance, especially if they wish to deceive you."-Richard Mason

It's true that one cannot "necessarily deduce" someone's religion from his appearance. But one can make reasonable surmises. A blond lady with a Swedish accent is probably not Muslim and is extremely unlikely to be a terrorist. Could she be? Yes, but it would be foolhardy indeed to subject her to the same scrutiny as young Pakistani or Saudi men. Of course, as terrorists change their tactics, security services ought to make the appropriate adjustments.

Security services do not deal with "necessary deductions," from certain axioms like geometers, but with probable inferences based upon limited information.

II. "More effective would be to consider why people become terrorists in the first place, and try to stop them before they even think about destroying Western culture. We can arrest/kill as many terrorists as we can but as long as ideas persist there will be more terrorists. In addition to security measures we should promote understanding of mainstream Islam...and figure out what policies we have that piss off terrorists so much. Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland don't get bombed."-Kevin

That is the wrong way to look at this fight. During World War II, did Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill agonize over what they did to offend Hitler? No, they saw the threat he represented, and the terrible ideology he believed in and they realized that such a man had to be destroyed. Things are much the same now with the Islamo-fascists.

One cannot reason with the likes of the Ayatollahs of Iran or the terrorists who head Al Quaeda. They will not abide by any agreements they make. They seek to impose an oppressive Islamist rule over the whole of Arabia and perhaps the world and they see America as the chief obstacle to their perverse vision. We have but two options: fight them like Churchill or appease them (like Chamberlain. Unfortunately, many in the West seem to prefer appeasement.

Those who think that America somehow brought this on itself and that "nicer" countries in the West are not target are deluding themselves. Just recently a plot was foiled in Canada in which several Muslims hoped to behead the Prime Minister. Canada made clear its opposition to the Iraq war, but it is still a target.


muxec, You're right. We would all be surprised at how much of the finances for these organizations slide across the tables in the Board rooms of local and international banks and finance agencies. Perhaps, we're all hunting in the wrong place for the wrong enemy. ;)


There are plenty of good Muslim men and women in the Country who make great contributions to our society. But there is also a percentage that believe in a strict interpretation of the Qu’ran and are willing to be martyrs. I’d encourage posters to read the text. Some gems:

Believers! Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. Let them find harshness in you. (another source: ) Ye who believe! Murder those of the disbelievers....
As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will not allow their works to perish. He will vouchsafe them guidance and ennoble their state; He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them. - 10:4-15

When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then when you have made wide slaughter among them, tie fast the bonds, then set them free, either by grace or ransom, until the war lays down its burdens. - 47:4
(different translation: ) When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads, and when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly.-47.4

I believe that the majority of Islamic persons in the US are good people who do not associate with the wording of the Qu’ran. But, unfortunately, their ‘collective punishment’ needs to be short questioning sessions before boarding airplanes. Monetary compensation would be patronizing. Rational people who end up being searched will recognize that, they too, are being protected.

The world’s juiciest target, El Al, hasn’t had a terrorist incident in 35 years.


I'd like to raise one more question. Is it possible that the peaceful innocent American Arabs have higher, than average USA population, expected gain from attack prevention? In case of successful attack innocent peaceful American Arabs also suffer from increasing suspicion or even hatred from average American, and this is in addition to probability of direct damage experienced by all living in USA. That's is, innocent Arab-looking Americans must accept actions caused by suspicion today to prevent even more suspicion or even hatred tomorrow. On the other hand, it can be possible, that Arabs use US Airlines less than average American, due to different income distribution, for example. This needs more serious investigation, indeed.

David Bartlett

I fear that it may not be to the World's benefit for the "West" to take a Churchillian strategy in defending themselves against Islamic Extremists.

The Qu'ran is just another text that can easily be manipulated to fit circumstances in a desired way. Muslim Extremists might just be another group of people using collective faith in certain ideas (whether they be right or wrong) to give meaning to their life.....and for substantiation of fighting against a feeling of being hard-done by.

What I mean to highlight is that unfortuntely this is a tough argument because we are all in danger of looking at it from one perspective alone.

The point where each side's argument breaks down is that there can never be a common right and wrong when two sides are involved in such a way.
For this reason, the sad truth I think we might have to accept is that this conflict will never end. The status quo in the West's treatment of Islamic Extremists may be dangerous, not because it is wrong.....but purely because it is pointless. And of course.....vice versa.

I understand that life is futile if you don't fight for what you think is true, but should one not weigh up the consequences, and also the causes of war before deciding to partake?

Put simply.....is action not the very cause for the need for more action?


Regarding the ethnic profiling: Many young Arab men could pass as young Hispanic men. If a young Arab man slicks his hair back, grows a mustache, and wears a T-shirt with something written in Spainish on it, people will no longer think "possible terrorist" when they see him ("possible drug dealer," maybe). Since it would be impossible politically to enact a "man with brown skin" profile, this limits the efficacy of terrorist profiling in America (but that's not to say it should be ruled out altogether).

Second, regarding the "never ending war on terror": Bin Laden himself has said many times that he does not care what America does within its own borders, he only cares about what it does in the Middle East (the BBC News website has a bunch of his statements translated if anyone's interested). If America stopped supporting Israel and cleaned up its act in the Middle East, the war on terror would be over tomorrow. About ten minutes later, the terrorists would find something else to fight about--most importantly--with someone else. This is why I think America should focus its resources on finding alternative energy sources, thus what happens in the Middle East would no longer be our problem.


"Second, regarding the "never ending war on terror": Bin Laden himself has said many times that he does not care what America does within its own borders...etc."

Andrew, Hitler even signed a pact with the Soviet Union. 3 years later, he invaded them. Their war is not against a particular country, but against a whole civilization.

Matt Rognlie

"Their war is not against a particular country, but against a whole civilization."

True. A few irrepressible fanatics will always carry on their campaigns of terror. But this doesn't mean that policy decisions can't lead to substantial changes in the size and capabilities of the terrorist pool.

I don't have time to come up with the perfect analogy, but terrorism is a lot like murder in general. You'll always have your psychopaths, your Charles Mansons with no motivations beyond sadism and insanity. But rethinking the drug war, for instance, could presage a substantial drop in the murder rate. The problem can't be eliminated, but it can be reduced.


If America stopped supporting Israel and cleaned up its act in the Middle East, the war on terror would be over tomorrow.-Andrew

What does "clean up its act" mean? It sounds like Andrew wants to retreat entirely, but that isn't a viable option. It might be unpleasant but it is certainly true that oil is tremendously important and that, therefore, we have vital national interests in that area.

That means that we must continue to exert our infuence in Arabia and firmly defend our own interests there. If we were to abandon our allies or begin a craven retreat, we would only embolden our enemies and invite future aggression.

"If you want peace, prepare for war"-Winston Churchill.


‘his argument does not provide a compelling reason to support the stripping of our most basic, fundamental freedoms.’

Please compare and contrast having to ‘endure’ a short interview before boarding an airplane with the reality that this generation of children will not be able to walk to the top of the Statue of Liberty.


Andrew's rebuttal:

As to what "clean up its act in the Middle East" mean, I'm not exactly sure myself. I know that many people in the Middle East are not happy with our support for the dictatorial Saudi royal family. Another example is the people of Iran's residual anger at us for supporting the Shah of Iran.

Personally, I would view America's disengagement from the Middle East as a victory because we would no longer have to worry about it. For example, much of Africa is a chaotic warzone, yet because we are not involved in their affairs (because there isn't oil) they are not attacking us (with the exception of "Muslim Africa" of course). In contrast, in the Middle East we are heavily involved in many of their affairs and we have a "war of civilizations." I doubt this is a coincidence.

As for the "if we run they will follow us" argument, the answer is simple. Why would they? What would they have to gain? Since we're thousands of miles away from them, if we left them alone we would not be a "high priority" target.


Shaum, Like most you're misunderstanding the difference between "freedoms" and "privileges". The security and existence of the Nation, or any nation, has always come down to the dichotomy of "Right" and Expediency. Where would we be today if the Confederacy had had the "Right" to secede.


"societies have to limit certain freedoms in order to more effectively fight terrorism."

Orwell, 1984:
"That the choice for mankind lay between freedom and happiness, and that, for the great bulk of mankind, happiness was better.

Benjamin Franklin:
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

Benito Mussolini:
"In our state the individual is not deprived of freedom. Because the state protects him and he is part of the State."

Becker, feeling nostalgic for the old free days:
"Hopefully, the vast majority of traditional freedoms can be preserved."

"Gee, thanks. Will the trains also run on time?"

Commentor obviously leading a life of white privilege:
"I'm all for profiling. I think it's one of those improvements that don't require further degradation of individual rights."

Neo-fascist commentator:
"All the liberty in the world is of little value to a corpse."

Patrick Henry:
"Give me liberty or give me death!"


"Search compensation gives some innocent people (those with lower marginal cost of their time) motivation to attract suspicion."

This is not correct, at least not under the sort of pay-to-search regime most people are discussing, which is, as I understand it, randomized payments among a group of people (young men from predominantly Muslim countries) who can't really do anything to "attract suspicion." Becker's preferred search criteria are "immutable" - there's nothing you can do to increase the likelihood that you'll be searched.


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shaum, They're called first principles. The underlying foundation and framework of any well thought out Socio-Economic-Politcal Philosophy. As for the Confederacy example and analogy, it was a question of "States Rights vs. National Union", Rights vs. Expediency. Or to dredge up another example, look at the old "Alien & Sedition Act" or Lincoln's Sedition Act. On reflection of past actions, most everyone today is being handled with kid gloves.


Ahh... pilgrim you have much to learn. ;)


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Good morning. If you're trying to take a roomful of people by surprise, it's a lot easier to hit your targets if you don't yell going through the door.
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