My friend Michael Smerconish, Philly talk show host and columnist, has been all over a story ignored by the mainstream media: punitive measures by the federal goverment that result in fines for airlines who pull more than two young Arab males out of line for increased security questioning. It’s a reverse racial profiling quota program that would bring a smile to Mohammed Atta’s thuggish face. Yesterday, Michael testified before a Senate transportation subcommittee:
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Three months ago, my wife and I flew with our four children from Atlantic City to Ft. Meyers, Florida. We had E-tickets. At the counter, a pleasant woman asked for our identification, and then wanted to know “which one is Michael, Jr.?” I pointed to my 8-year-old. “Oh, that won’t work,” she said. She then explained that he’d been designated for secondary screening, meaning he would be subjected to more of a search than just taking off his shoes and walking through the metal detector. I told her I would gladly take his place and she obliged. (The fact that I could so easily negotiate someone else out of secondary screening was itself insightful.)
I didn’t complain about the inconvenience. Instead, I cursed bin Laden under my breath, and considered this to be my small part to play in the post-9/11 world. Well, I no longer believe that to be the case.
On the return trip, I had a similar experience. Once again, my son was selected for secondary screening, and again I took his place. Enter Secretary John Lehman. Two weeks after our return from Florida, I watched Condoleezza Rice testify before the 9/11 Commission. The media attention that day was focused upon the President’s Daily Briefing (PDB) of August 6, 2001, about a month before 9/11. I was more interested in something I heard Secretary Lehman ask Dr. Rice:
Were you aware that it was the policy � to fine airlines if they have more than two young Arab males in secondary questioning because that’s discriminatory?
Her reply, that she did not know the “kind of inside arrangements for the FAA,” was inconsequential. Still, I wondered what in the world he was referring to. Here is what he told me: “We had testimony a couple of months ago from the past president of United, and current president of American Airlines that kind of shocked us all. They said under oath that, indeed, the Department of Transportation continued to fine any airline that was caught having more than two people of the same ethnic persuasion in a secondary line for questioning, including, and especially, two Arabs.”
I then asked him about the role of political correctness, and he said:
“That is really the source, because of this political correctness that became so entrenched in the 1990’s, and continues in [the] current Administration. No one approves of racial profiling, that is not the issue. The fact is that Norwegian women are not, and 85-year-old ladies with aluminum walkers are not, the source of the terrorist threat. The fact is that our enemy is the violent Islamic extremists, and the overwhelming number of people that one need to worry about are young Arab males, and to ask them a couple of extra questions seems to me to be common sense, yet if an airline does that in numbers that are more than proportionate to their number in a particular line, then they get fined and that is why you see so many blue-haired old ladies and people that are clearly not of Middle Eastern extraction being hauled out in such numbers because otherwise they get fined…”
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