Northwest Airlines Plot Sparks Profiling Debate

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WASHINGTON -- Christmas Eve's foiled Northwest Airlines terror plot has led to a resurgence of the debate on security profiling.

It's a touchy subject for many lawmakers on Capitol Hill with the very word being filled with negative connotations.

A Second Look at Profiling

The plot to blow up a Northwest flight last week has led to longer lines and hassles at airports across the United States.

It has also left millions of Americans frustrated and wondering why Transportation Security Administration agents are making poor old grandma go through extra security - or why little 8-year-old Suzy is questioned repeatedly.

Chris Brown is a counterterrorism expert and senior research associate with the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. He appeared on Wednesday's Newswatch program to share more on the touchy subject of profiling. Click play for the interview.

The war on terror has been declared against Muslim extremists so proponents of profiling say it's just makes sense to conduct smart screening and look at those who more closely fit the profile.

"One hundred percent of all the terrorist attacks against the United States last year were carried out by Muslim Jihadists. So, if that's the one common denominator, let's include that in the mix," said Steven Emerson, executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

So far the president hasn't weighed in on the profiling issue.

"It's absolutely critical that we learn from this incident and take the necessary measures to prevent future acts of terrorism," President Obama said Monday.

But don't expect this president to push for profiling.

So far, supporters of such security measures are mainly conservative lawmakers like Congressman Peter King of New York. However, others in Congress are expected to jump on board the profiling bandwagon.

Profiling Un-American?

Still, critics of profiling say it violates American values.

"Developing racist counter-terrorism policies is quite counter productive," said Michael German, the ACLU's policy counsel on national security. "It's unconstitutional, it's ineffective and it's counter-productive."

Meanwhile, White House officials have no plans to dial back on their agenda in 2010. They believe the bailouts, healthcare reform and stimulus money for jobs are crucial to improving the economy.

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