Why Racial Profiling Doesn't Work

More

Via Andrew, a very interesting study:

Racial profiling, in other words, doesn't work because it devotes heightened resources to innocent people -- and then devotes those resources to them repeatedly even after they've been cleared as innocent the first time. The actual terrorists, meanwhile, may sneak through while Transportation Security Administration agents are focusing their limited attention on the wrong passengers.

It is important to remember that the most successful interdiction of a terrorist -- an unknowing terrorist, in this case -- trying to board an airplane with a bomb is the 1986 case of Anne-Marie Murphy, a red-headed, pregnant Irishwoman whose Palestinian boyfriend, Nezar Hindawi, planted a bomb in her carry-on bag in the hope that it would explode on an El Al flight leaving Heathrow for Israel. Murphy passed through the normal Heathrow inspection, but El Al security sensed something suspicious about her. Questioning -- not a pat-down, mind you, but a series of questions -- eventually led El Al to the bomb. If El Al security had merely been racially profiling, this red-headed woman would have boarded the flight, and 375 people would have died.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Jeffrey Goldberg is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a recipient of the National Magazine Award for Reporting. Author of the book Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror, Goldberg also writes the magazine's advice column. More

Before joining The Atlantic in 2007, Goldberg was a Middle East correspondent, and the Washington correspondent, for The New Yorker. Previously, he served as a correspondent for The New York Times Magazine and New York magazine. He has also written for the Jewish Daily Forward, and was a columnist for The Jerusalem Post.

His book Prisoners was hailed as one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Slate, The Progressive, Washingtonian magazine, and Playboy. Goldberg rthe recipient of the 2003 National Magazine Award for Reporting for his coverage of Islamic terrorism. He is also the winner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists prize for best international investigative journalist; the Overseas Press Club award for best human-rights reporting; and the Abraham Cahan Prize in Journalism. He is also the recipient of 2005's Anti-Defamation League Daniel Pearl Prize.

In 2001, Goldberg was appointed the Syrkin Fellow in Letters of the Jerusalem Foundation, and in 2002 he became a public-policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Do Men Assume They're So Great?

Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, authors of this month's Atlantic cover story, sit down with Hanna Rosin to discuss the power of confidence and how self doubt holds women back. 


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Where Time Comes From

The clocks that coordinate your cellphone, GPS, and more

Video

Computer Vision Syndrome and You

Save your eyes. Take breaks.

Video

What Happens in 60 Seconds

Quantifying human activity around the world

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In