Sunday, January 3, 2010

Trading Liberty For Security

A retired Air Force general appeared on Fox News and stated the position that the U.S. must begin strip searching Muslim males between 18 and 28 years old before they are allowed to board airplanes. His rationale is that
“If we continue to be politically correct then we’re going to have to have a disaster.”
First, let me say that I agree with that quote 100%. Unless we begin looking at muslim men with a hard and heavy eye, a plane will eventually explode in the air above this country.

Second, let me say that I disagree with the general's plan of action. It's a question of priorities.

On one hand is the desire for security. That desire is magnified in the immediate aftermath of an incident like the near-miss on Christmas Day 2009. The understandable knee-jerk reaction is to call for measures we would normally abhor.

However, this desire must be balanced with the freedoms and rights we expect as Americans. I realize that the likely targets of racial profiling under the general's plan would not be American citizens. That doesn't matter. The ideals behind our Constitution apply to all people. We're just supposed to do a better job of upholding them.

Targeted profiling, using intelligence, pyschological techniques and good old-fashioned intuition makes a lot of sense. Trading the ideas of privacy and innocence until proven guilty for an unmeasurable level of security is wrong.

The question is, are those ideas worth sacrificing if it prevents a bomb from destroying a plane? As someone who will be travelling by air a minimum of six times this year, I say no.

There must be some level at which the need for security outweighs the primacy of individual rights, but we're not there. Thankfully, from where we are I can't see that level.

(Link via Instapundit)

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