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To ensure that we Americans never offend anyone -- particularly fanatics intent on killing us -- airport screeners are not allowed to profile people. They will, however, continue to perform random searches of 80-year-old women, little kids, airline pilots with proper identification, Secret Service agents who are members of the President's security detail, and 85-year old Congressmen with metal hips.

[seven selected terror incidents over 30 years deleted]

This proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the ACLU is completely right, and that we should never use racial profiling -- even though it would easily save thousands of American lives.

Columbine? UNABOM? Recent mailbox bombing resulting in the arrest of a college student? You've been very selective with your 30-year history, conveniently chosing 7 events over the last 30 years to demonstrate that profiling arab males ages 17-40 will prevent terror attacks.

It may prevent some attacks, but consitutional issues aside, it may well be the wrong profile. According to the US State Department reports for 1997-1999, the anti-US terrorism problem is more extensive than the 17-40 year old male arabs you describe. Latin American would be the proper focus according to these three years of data. While these tables don't provide information about the perpetrators, it's quite clear that it's a worldwide problem involving multiple nationalities and ethnicities.

Recent reports of intelligence failures, combined with the charts I've provided links for, lead me to believe that profiling 17-40 year arab males won't work. Such a profile is easily worked around by terrorists (perhaps more difficult for those requiring suicidal missions). By concentrating on one specific profile, we ignore (or spend less resources on) the multiplicity of alternative possibilities available to terrorists. What did happen to that truckload of cyanide recently stolen in Mexico?

The next attack won't be small groups of arab male suicide hijackers. Profiling as if it will be is an action we can take, but it's an action that's as unconstitutional and ineffective as profiling for bearded men living alone in shacks, white male high-schoolers in black trenchcoats, or ex-military personnel renting trucks.

Good luck,

Bruce, a librarian with absolutely zero terrorism expertise
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