Tonight's Discussion on American Muslims
Posted by James Lamond
There was a fairly disturbing portion of the debate tonight where most of the GOP contenders for president supported monitoring Muslims closer than other citizens - the obvious dissenter being Ron Paul. Rick Santorum essentially endorsed treating all Muslims as suspects. This is disappointing as an American who believes in our values, but it is just flat out bad security policy. There are four basic reasons, without getting into the serious first and second order effects, for this: It overloads and already stressed national security apparatus, serves as a distraction to the real problems, hinders cooperation between communities and law enforcement, and can serve terrorists' recruitment process. This is why most homeland security experts endorse policies that focus on actions of individuals, not their religion or race.
But as Mr. Cain said “ask the professionals”:
The 9/11 Commission Chairmen, on overloading the system: Profiling overloads the "intelligence and law enforcement agencies, already over-stressed and inundated with information and leads."
Scott Bates, former policy advisor to the House Homeland Security Committee, on distractions from the real probelms: "we have seen with a number of recent cases, there is no single 'profile' of a terrorist or would-be terrorist. Recent cases include individuals as diverse as ‘Jihad Jane,’ a white middle-aged woman who converted to Islam and traveled to Sweden to participate in the murder of Swedish artist Lars Vilks, and James Wenneker von Brunn, the elderly white supremacist who shot up the Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2009."
David Schanzer, the director of the Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, on hindrance of police cooperation: "Law enforcement officials occasionally receive information about a suspicious person from a fertilizer vendor or some other person in a position to observe potential terrorists. But authorities agree such tips are most likely to come from the community in which the homegrown terrorist lives, which in this day and age is frequently the Muslim-American community." But as he explains, "The rise of such [anti-Islam] intolerance... is particularly dangerous... because it is likely to inhibit intelligence collection from Muslim-Americans and may contribute to the radicalization process."
Brian Fishman, counterterrorism analyst at the New America Foundation and West Point, on use as a recruitment tactic: “In a March 2010 statement titled "A Call to Jihad," Awlaki argued darkly that ‘yesterday America was a land of slavery, segregation, lynching and Ku Klux Klan, and tomorrow it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps. Don't be deceived by the promises of preserving your rights from a government that is right now killing your own brothers and sisters… The West will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens!’”