The Instigator
rprattnhs
Pro (for)
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The Contender
dweckmanNHS
Con (against)
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Airport Security- Profiling should be used to single out passengers for extra security searches

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/15/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,159 times Debate No: 38920
Debate Rounds (5)
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rprattnhs

Pro

The United States and other countries have used broad scanning techniques since 2010 to counter terrorist attacks on the counrty. However, it is unavoidable that most terrorists today fit into certain demographics and catagories. Profiling and investigating anyone who fits into these profiles is neccassary because they are far more likely to be potential terrorists. This resolution would not just target Muslims, but rather those who fit further profile characteristics. For example, young men of a particular ethnic background who are known to have been engaged in terror activities, should be targeted to give people a greater sense of security. (idebate) Profiling is not about demonizing people or violating their rights. In actuality, profiling would actually safegaurd everyone's rights. (NPR) Khalid Mahmood, a Muslim Labour MP for Birmingham, argues: "I think most people would rather be profiled than blown up. It wouldn't be victimisation of an entire community". Both racial and religious profiling should be used by airport security to stop terrorist activity and protect the passengers.

(1)http://idebate.org...
(2)http://www.npr.org...
dweckmanNHS

Con

Since post 9/11 Americans have supported profiling, all major airports use CAPPS (Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening System) to try to apprehend terrorist. Now two MIT computer science graduates have proof that profiling doesn't work because CAPPS has been in effect since 1999, this has given terrorist plenty of time to practice against the system. If airports used only random searches then terrorist will not be able to practice against the system. If there was a pure randomized screening then then the terrorist would not be able to know if they would receive extra screening. MIT research shows that there is a better chance of catching terrorists or people hiding weapons.

(1)http://acfnewsource.org.s60463.gridserver.com...
Debate Round No. 1
rprattnhs

Pro

rprattnhs forfeited this round.
dweckmanNHS

Con

There are two types of profiling. There is profiling based on behavioral traits, which can be a very effective profiling system but is very hard to do right. Then there is profiling based on name, nationality and so on, this process of profiling can make us all less safe. Terrorist don't fit a profile and cannot be plucked out of crowds by a computer. Terrorist can be European, Asian, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern, male and female, young and old. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was British with a Jamaican father. Germaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 London bombers, was Afro-Caribbean. Dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla was Hispanic-American. The 2002 Bali terrorists were Indonesian. Timothy McVeigh was a white American. So was the Unabomber. The Chechen terrorists who blew up two Russian planes in 2004 were female. Palestinian terrorists routinely recruit "clean" suicide bombers, and have used unsuspecting Westerners as bomb carriers

Source (2) http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com...
Debate Round No. 2
rprattnhs

Pro

The United States' security has failed in the passed, the 9/11 terrorists were undetected going through the metal detectors. Then when they attempted to increase security, Richard Reid managed to board a flight with explosives in his shoes. When passengers were asked to take off their shoes, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab managed to board a flight with plastic explosives hidden in his underwear. This shows that terrorists are able to get around new security measure when they are introduced. Ethnic profiling is a new tactic that will be difficult to get around and prevent terrorism. Today, the majority of terrorist organizations are based on a form of Islamic ideology that is mostly prevalent in the Middle East and South-East Asia. Profiling is based on the assumption that the people in the organizations, from these countries, are most likely suspects of terrorism. Racial profiling is therefore just because although it is seen as discriminatory, it protects the lives of millions of passengers.

(1)http://securingliberty.idebate.org...
dweckmanNHS

Con

Rhode Island air port T.F. Green has recently decide to install a face recognition or a system to profile terrorist. American Civil Liberties union called on the officials to reconsider this installment, because federal government studies on this face recognition show that it does not work. This technology will do little more then creating a sense of security that is not there, and will infringe on privacy and harass innocent persons just because of their ethnic appearance. Face recognition and profiling schemes are completely useless to stop terrorists unless there is a properly established database of suspects and as of now there is no photographic database of terrorists that exists at this point of time. On the flip side, the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) study also found that digital comparisons of posed photos of the same person taken 18 months apart triggered "false negatives" by the technology 43 percent of the time. In other words, persons who should have been identified were not. Further, both these studies were performed with images captured under circumstances far more ideal than a crowded airport. Independent experts agree, as the NIST study demonstrated, that FERET (Face Recognition Technology) has trouble recognizing the effects of aging, and that changing a hair or beard style or wearing glasses can also fool the computers. In addition, differences in lighting and camera angles, as well as the "uncooperative" nature of the person being photographed, all are known to further increase the inaccuracies of this technology. study on FERET technology found major "false positive" problems, in which the system reports a match when none exists. Police relying on this technology will therefore be led too often to stop, question and detain innocent people instead of suspects. And if the photo database consists largely, if not exclusively, of Middle Eastern people flagged as terrorists, the result of these numerous "false positives" will fall most heavily on innocent people of Arabic descent and lead to yet another level of racial profiling in law enforcement.

Source (1) https://www.aclu.org...
Debate Round No. 3
rprattnhs

Pro

Some people think that racial profiling is prejudice and racist. Sadly however, the truth is that many terrorists share one common denominator: Many of them are Muslim. Singling people out based on similar background isn't racist but is based only on threat assessment. Airport security is using racial profiling not to single out certain ethnicities, but to protect the lives of the passengers.
dweckmanNHS

Con

"This is a bad idea. It doesn"t make us any safer " and it actually puts us all at risk.

The right way to look at security is in terms of cost-benefit trade-offs. If adding profiling to airport checkpoints allowed us to detect more threats at a lower cost, than we should implement it. If it didn"t, we"d be foolish to do so. Sometimes profiling works. Consider a sheep in a meadow, happily munching on grass. When he spies a wolf, he"s going to judge that individual wolf based on a bunch of assumptions related to the past behavior of its species. In short, that sheep is going to profile"and then run away. This makes perfect sense, and is why evolution produced sheep " and other animals " that react this way. But this sort of profiling doesn"t work with humans at airports, for several reasons.

First, in the sheep"s case the profile is accurate, in that all wolves are out to eat sheep. Maybe a particular wolf isn"t hungry at the moment, but enough wolves are hungry enough of the time to justify the occasional false alarm. However, it isn"t true that almost all Muslims are out to blow up airplanes. In fact, almost none of them are. Post 9/11, we"ve had 2 Muslim terrorists on U.S airplanes: the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber. If you assume 0.8% (that"s one estimate of the percentage of Muslim Americans) of the 630 million annual airplane fliers are Muslim and triple it to account for others who look Semitic, then the chances any profiled flier will be a Muslim terrorist is 1 in 80 million. Add the 19 9/11 terrorists " arguably a singular event " that number drops to 1 in 8 million. Either way, because the number of actual terrorists is so low, almost everyone selected by the profile will be innocent. This is called the "base rate fallacy," and dooms any type of broad terrorist profiling, including the TSA"s behavioral profiling.

Second, sheep can safely ignore animals that don"t look like the few predators they know. On the other hand, to assume that only Arab-appearing people are terrorists is dangerously naive. Muslims are black, white, Asian, and everything else " most Muslims are not Arab. Recent terrorists have been European, Asian, African, Hispanic, and Middle Eastern; male and female; young and old. Underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab was Nigerian. Shoe bomber Richard Reid was British with a Jamaican father. One of the London subway bombers, Germaine Lindsay, was Afro-Caribbean. Dirty bomb suspect Jose Padilla was Hispanic-American. The 2002 Bali terrorists were Indonesian. Both Timothy McVeigh and the Unabomber were white Americans. The Chechen terrorists who blew up two Russian planes in 2004 were female. Focusing on a profile increases the risk that TSA agents will miss those who don"t match it.

Third, wolves can"t deliberately try to evade the profile. A wolf in sheep"s clothing is just a story, but humans are smart and adaptable enough to put the concept into practice. Once the TSA establishes a profile, terrorists will take steps to avoid it. The Chechens deliberately chose female suicide bombers because Russian security was less thorough with women. Al Qaeda has tried to recruit non-Muslims. And terrorists have given bombs to innocent " and innocent-looking " travelers. Randomized secondary screening is more effective, especially since the goal isn"t to catch every plot but to create enough uncertainty that terrorists don"t even try.

And fourth, sheep don"t care if they offend innocent wolves; the two species are never going to be friends. At airports, though, there is an enormous social and political cost to the millions of false alarms. Beyond the societal harms of deliberately harassing a minority group, singling out Muslims alienates the very people who are in the best position to discover and alert authorities about Muslim plots before the terrorists even get to the airport. This alone is reason enough not to profile.

I too am incensed " but not surprised " when the TSA manhandles four-year old girls, children with cerebral palsy, pretty women, the elderly, and wheelchair users for humiliation, abuse, and sometimes theft. Any bureaucracy that processes 630 million people per year will generate stories like this. When people propose profiling, they are really asking for a security system that can apply judgment. Unfortunately, that"s really hard. Rules are easier to explain and train. Zero tolerance is easier to justify and defend. Judgment requires better-educated, more expert, and much-higher-paid screeners. And the personal career risks to a TSA agent of being wrong when exercising judgment far outweigh any benefits from being sensible.

The proper reaction to screening horror stories isn"t to subject only "those people" to it; it"s to subject no one to it. (Can anyone even explain what hypothetical terrorist plot could successfully evade normal security, but would be discovered during secondary screening?) Invasive TSA screening is nothing more than security theater. It doesn"t make us safer, and it"s not worth the cost. Even more strongly, security isn"t our society"s only value. Do we really want the full power of government to act out our stereotypes and prejudices? Have we Americans ever done something like this and not been ashamed later? This is what we have a Constitution for: to help us live up to our values and not down to our fears."

Source (1) http://www.forbes.com...
Debate Round No. 4
rprattnhs

Pro

Airport and airline security in this country, or more accurately, the lack of it, has been an open scandal for decades. On September 11, we paid the price. Now it is proposed that airport security personnel should "profile" airline passengers from Moslem and Middle Eastern countries for special scrutiny. To target an entire ethnic group, the overwhelming majority of whom are good, decent, innocent people, because of the crimes committed by a tiny handful of them, is immoral, in most instances illegal and violates fundamental American values. Nevertheless, in the aftermath of September 11, airport security officials are temporarily justified in doing so, for three reasons: First, because since 1993, the perpetrators of every terrorist act committed or attempted by foreigners within the U.S. " the World Trade Center car bomb, September 11 and several unsuccessful conspiracies in between " have been from the Middle East, Algeria or Pakistan. Second, September 11 taught us that failing to prevent terrorists from boarding an airliner can cost thousands of lives and significantly disrupt our way of life. Third, because we do not yet have in place the resources or personnel to properly scrutinize every individual who boards and every package loaded onto a plane, it would be irresponsible not to focus most of our attention on people who fit the "profile" of those most likely to attempt another September 11. This justification is temporary, for two reasons: Permanently profiling any group violates our ideals and values. And the next group of hijackers might not fit the profile. They might be from Somalia or Indonesia (where allegedly there are Al Qaeda cells in each country). Or they could be members of Aum Shinrikyo, the Japanese sect that a few years ago released a deadly chemical in the Tokyo subway. Or they might be "all-American guys" like Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City. Until adequate security resources are put in place to properly screen everyone, we can only hope that security personnel who "profile" Middle Easterners will act professionally and courteously. Inevitably, though, thousands of innocent, decent people will be singled out unfairly, and many will be harassed and humiliated, but its the price passengers will have to pay to fly safely and prevent terrorist action. In conclusion profiling in airport security is neccassary in order to protect one of our natural right, life.

(1)http://photo.pds.org...
dweckmanNHS

Con

dweckmanNHS forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
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