The American Interest

Profiling and Spying: A Necessary Evil

Gary S. Becker, a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Chicago and a 1992 Nobel Prize winner, cannot be accused of “racism.”  After all, he supports liberalizing immigration laws for educated professionals from around the world, especially India and China.  But his warning, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last December, that the United States should restrict entry of people from countries “that have produced many terrorists, such as Saudi Arabia and Pakistan,” raised many liberal eyebrows.  Anticipating this, Professor Becker wrote, “My attitude may be dismissed as religious profiling, but intelligent and fact-based profiling is essential in the war against terror.”

In a sane world, this would be a bland, factual statement; but those who rule today’s America suffer from a form of insanity unknown to history.

In the 2000 presidential campaign, Al Gore called profiling “a serious problem . . . [t]hat runs counter to what the United States is all about.”  His opponent, George W. Bush, concurred: “That’s just flat wrong.”  Less than two years after September 11, in June 2003, the Bush administration ordered a broad ban on “racial and ethnic profiling” at all 70 federal law-enforcement agencies, making the previously existing ban on profiling even more stringent.  Guidelines issued by...

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