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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Profiling

I believe,as I always have, that the issues which TOUCH the residents of the 17th District are those which affect them most.

Nothing is more immediate to each one of us than staying safe and keeping the peace--for ourselves, our families, our nation.

That is, also, the primary purpose of government...
to "insure domestic tranquility"
to "provide for the common defense"
to "promote the general welfare..."
It's right there, in the short Preamble to the U.S. Constitution. (Seems the founders instinctively knew the rule that is STILL used in journalism: "tell em, tell em again, and tell em a 3rd time!") It's pretty darned clear what government is supposed to do.

This Monday September 11--the 5th anniversary of 9/11--we set out on a district-wide tour to distribute free yard signs--emblazoned with the flag and the words "America Stands United" on one side and "We Won't Forget" on the other.

These signs came to us from a National Guardsman and true patriot who purchased them, in boxes and without any definite purpose in mind, right after 9/11. He chose this 5th anniversary (5 YEARS WITHOUT A REPEAT ATTACK ON AMERICAN SOIL) to share them with us so we could share them with our fellow Americans around the 17th
District.

(By the way, our campaign staff and field staff include a former National Guardsman, a Marine, and the proud papa of a recent Air Force boot camp graduate. We take this seriously!)

At each stop but one a group of interested citizens was there to greet our campaign, and the signs flew out the door. I used the occasion to talk in each of seven cities about national security and my priorities for assuring that we "secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity." (The Preamble again.)

Several of those stops were at municipal fire stations. One of those fire stations was in Springfield, where I was asked by the media about whether I would profile Mideastern men in airports.

Look, folks, it's pretty simple: when you are trying to avoid a murderous hijacking, you look closest at the triggers and signs that you know are most likely, statistically, to lead to that eventuality. It's tragic but true that after 20 years of warnings of war punctuated by sporadic outrages like the Cole bombing, the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut and the lst attempt on the World Trade Center in New York, we do have patterns.

When I say profiling doesn't bother me, I refer specifically to profiling in airports. And I do not refer to profiling by physical features or name, UNLESS that
is preceded by some pretty powerful triggers: a one-way ticket, for instance, in company with cash payment; a history of visits to terrorist havens or cells or camps, and so on. Maybe also in company with OTHER travelers who have ALSO bought one-way tickets with cash and a history of visits to terrorist havens etc.

The situation as it exists now in this country is this: if an airline begins to see that SEVERAL are scheduled to fly whose presence and particulars send up red flags, that airline has a choice. Intensively screen all the questionable would-be passengers, and face hefty fines from the federal Department of Transportation's Civil Liberties division for picking on one class of people; or go ahead and fly and hope for the best.

So what we have are government lawyers making it tough for the airlines to screen, say, a group of passengers. We erred in my prepared remarks when we thought it was no more than two--but the substance is the same. "Ah ah ah!" the lawyers warn. "You are in danger of discriminating based on ethnicity, and we can sue."

And sue they have. The American government sued American Airlines, on that very basis, to the tune of millions of dollars, in the case of 10 different passengers who, because of the conundrum this creates for the airlines, were finally just kept off the flight: not allowed to board. In the case of the 11th defendant, no lawsuit resulted. Because THAT guy American Airlines kept off the plane was Richard Reid. Of course we all know what he did with his shoe when he made it onto a subsequent flight.

(Worth noting that the warning profiles which have evolved do NOT depend on ethnicity. They tagged him and he was no way Middle Eastern.)

I don't know about you, but I am more interested in defending America than in coddling passengers. Check that--yes, I DO know. Most Americans, most airline passengers, ARE WILLING to put up with longer and more intensive security procedures in exchange for a flight that actually makes it to its destination in one piece. The American people understand that in order to preserve liberty, we must emphasize security. They also value their skins and their souls and want to keep them around as long as possible.

A reporter asked me if I would have, therefore, interned the Japanese in World War Two. That really doesn't merit a response. This is not about interning. It isn't about torture. It isn't about "racial profiling"--stopping someone driving down the street just because your skin is a particular color.

(If you really want to be technical, the Middle East is a place, not a race.)

What then IS this about? It's about not turning your flight to New York or London into a WMD.

And if, as a side benefit, we could use a little common sense and not screen babies, that might be nice.

However, if you have to search the babies, do it. They aren't going to mind, most like--and most Americans don't mind the INTENT either--although few of us have much patience for such things. We like sensible. And more importantly still, most Americans would not strap explosives on their kids or use them as human shields or decoys. It's our terrorist enemies, in a new kind of war, who do that.

I can of course not speak for them, but I'm willing to bet that Middle Eastern men with no ill intent on their minds don't object to efforts to keep them safe on a plane either. Perhaps I'm wrong--but then, plenty of men of middle Eastern descent ARE Americans, the majority of whom understand the importance of increasing security in order to safeguard liberty.

A sad fact, but true. We are in a War of Terror that could take decades in many places to stamp out, and which certainly redefines "war" as we have ever known it.

If I were honored enough to be elected your Representative in Congress, I would try to understand terrorists, but not for the purpose of coddling them. I would want to know all I could about them for one reason and one reason only: to keep you safe.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is nice to hear someone running for congress to talk with common sense. What Andrea says is all totally true. I'm sick and tired of everyone nit picking and accusing others of being racist, or profiling when things need to be done to protect ourselves. All Bush talks about is the war on terror yet it would be more politically correct to act like all mideasterners in our country are perfect law abiding people. That does not mean to say they are all dangerous. But everyone should be checked and especially mideasterners since they ARE the ones we are trying to defend ourselves from and are at war with. After all the ones who did the 911 were mingling in this country among us too. And since this that terrible day Bush and congress have still not guarded our borders and have allowed our country to be invaded by millions of illegal aliens. The idea of being afraid to say or do anything that might offend someone is getting out of hand.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Richard K Everett said...

Good for you Andrea! It refreshing to hear someone run for office and be willing to say what need to be done and not coddle to the ACLU and the liberals. We have heard too much blather from politicians on both sides Let's just make sure that America comes first and if someone doesn't like it then let them go ahead and fly to the Middle East and find out how well the followers of radical Islam treat "outsiders.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Corey Worden said...

"When I say profiling doesn't bother me, I refer specifically to profiling in airports. And I do not refer to profiling by physical features or name..." Ms. Zinga says. I ask if it possible to have one without the other? We seem to have more instances of serial killers committing heinous crimes annually in this country, should we profile early to middle-aged white males since most serial killers are predominantly from this group? Your logic and sensibility is applauded by those who simply do not have either. It is my hope that these contradictions to the liberty and freedom for which America stands will end. I realize this comment will not be posted but it is my hope that you will read it and at least consider your position. In closing, a great American named Ben Franklin warned us in 1759, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." God bless you.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Debbie.....Corey serial killers are Not middle aged white men. Andrea profiling should be done if there are reasons and I believe you know that by the way you state your postions.

10:10 PM  

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