Question:The terrorism threat comes predominantly from young, Muslim male extremists. Without racial or ethnic profiling, are there ways to make airport security better match this threat?
Answer: Yes. At the extreme, 3-year-olds are not probably a threat we need to worry about, and 75-year-old grandmothers are probably not a threat. But if you look at the experience of watching suicide bombers in other parts of the world, saying those can't be women is just not factually correct. So I'm hesitant to say that we should focus only on males, or Muslims of a particular age.
Q: So what might an airport screener look for?
A: We are training our screening officers in behavioral pattern recognition, looking at ways people behave that will actually suggest they're trying to hide something. That's a positive step that does not require ethnic profiling but looks to the pattern of behavior. I think some element of that is talking to people when they come through, asking them a few basic questions: Where are you going? What are you doing? Why are you going there? These are tools that would allow us to be more precise, but without getting into racial profiling, which is a bad thing. [Link]
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