Racial, religious profiling no answer to terror


To the editor:

The United States should be "putting our resources into stopping people who fit the terrorist profile," Tuesday's Review-Journal editorial suggests. However, the "terrorist profile" should not be a proxy for race, ethnicity and/or religion.

Not only is racially profiling unfair and unconstitutional, it is ineffective. Instead of racially profiling, those branches of the government responsible for investigating potential terrorists should focus on actual suspicious behavior, as the Review-Journal editorial suggested, and not create a suspect based on religion or race.

Former CIA officer and prosecutor Jack Rice recently supported this position on national television when he confirmed that "it's far more effective to follow what it is that people do rather than what they look like."

After the 9/11 attacks, many policies were quickly adopted-- from the overly broad Patriot Act to indefinite detention to misguided airline security measures -- that, unfortunately, succeeded in neither increasing our safety nor honoring our values.

Following the 9/11 attacks, while investigative efforts concentrated on men of Middle Eastern descent, Nathaniel Heatwole, a Caucasian college student from North Carolina, purposefully planted box cutters, bleach, modeling clay fashioned to look like explosives, and other items onto multiple planes from February to September 2003. Some items were not found for months. The Transportation Security Administration wasn't able to connect the dots on Mr. Heatwole's surreptitious behavior until he actually e-mailed an admission to TSA with information about the items he left on board.

The idea that "cowardly preoccupation with political correctness" is the reason why agencies and the public don't want racial profiling to occur is flat wrong. Racially or ethnically profiling the innocent doesn't help find terrorists, it only wastes security resources. More fundamentally, while we must work hard to provide the best security possible, we must also recognize that our constitutional freedoms are what we are ultimately trying to protect.

Therefore, the citizens of the United States, along with our elected officials, should strive to maintain laws that keep us both safe and free.

That's not cowardly, nor politically correct -- it's American.

Maggie McLetchie

LAS VEGAS

THE WRITER IS INTERIM SOUTHERN PROGRAM DIRECTOR OF THE ACLU OF NEVADA.

Push the reset button

To the editor:

The perfect may be the enemy of the good, but this does not justify embracing the bad. I would encourage our congressional representatives to take a very hard look at the health care bill that comes out of conference, and to consider voting "no."

I am troubled by both the content of the current bills and the legislative process that has led to their passage by the narrowest of margins.

My major objection is that the bills reinforce the role of private insurance as the gateway to health care services. No wonder the insurance company stocks are up 30 percent over three months!

I believe the public interest would be better served by either encouraging the development of alternative delivery models where individuals pay their health care providers directly for routine care and rely on insurance only for catastrophic illness or injury, and/or by extending Medicare to make basic services available to everyone, leaving private insurers to provide supplementary benefits to those who want to pay for them.

Instead, Congress now proposes to require everyone to buy private insurance -- and we'll be fined if we don't!

At this point, we should push the reset button on health care reform. It is not even clear that the current bill will be effective in achieving its primary objectives.

Let Congress pass some incremental reforms now with bipartisan support, and establish an independent commission to study and make recommendations on alternatives for long-term reform.

Jan Hettich

LAS VEGAS

Marxist professors

To the editor:

There were two columns in the Dec. 27 Viewpoints section that got me thinking about the old adage "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it."

In Glenn Cook's column, he mentioned that UNLV professor Christine Clark "got to collect her full salary ($162,000 annually) this semester for teaching a single class. Kevin Hassett's column informed us that in "the social sciences, 24 percent of professors identified themselves as liberal "radicals" and 18 percent as Marxists."

In reading this, it's fairly obvious that tenured professors in the current non-Marxist United States have a pretty good deal going. I can't say exactly how the job description would read in a "Marxist" U.S. college environment, but I would bet it would be a lot closer to working a 50- to 60-hour week for a few thousand dollars a month, not teaching a single class at an annual salary of $162,000.

They should be careful what they teach their students in school, and what they secretly hope for -- they just might get it.

B. DARLING

HENDERSON

Ruling class

To the editor:

I have not decided if I will vote for or against Nevada Sen. Harry Reid this year. Recently, he had a full-page ad in the Review-Journal relative to the health reform bill.

The ad requested that anyone having questions about the bill call one of two phone numbers listed in the ad.

I did. I called Sen. Reid's Washington office. Asking to speak to the senator, I was informed that he was unavailable. They never are available.

The party I spoke with told me I would be contacted with an answer to my question. My name, address and phone number were taken.

My question to the senator was, if he really believed in his heart that this bill was good for America, why then aren't the Congress and president going to be covered by this plan?

Was I contacted? Of course not. Why? Because the president, the senator and the Congress will tell you they deserve better. After all, they are the rulers.

WALTER E. GUNTHER

LAS VEGAS

 

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