Thursday, May 6

Let us all now join the Bigot Parade!

Apparently Dan Finelli (R-FL) who is running for the seat currently held by Alan Grayson thinks all you need to do to find a terrorist is look for their beady eyes, see the Turbin and the Olive Skin...

But Mr. FINELLI isn't that what they used to say about finding members of - y'know - THE MAFIA, except for the Turbin...

Welcome to the Bigot Parade, wherein Really Dumb People think they can see into the depths of your soul, by looking at your skin tone...

It might seem to some simplistically logical to look for terrorists coming from countries that threaten us, except that it really doesn't work.

One of the larger problems facing the security industry in the era of mass terrorism is the task of creating a profile of a likely terrorist. Identifying those at risk of first time offenses is a challenge in any context, but the stakes are higher when that offense may also be the last, and involve the deaths of dozens of people. We've discussed the challenges of generating profiles of potential terrorists in the past, but a study that will be released by the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science does a mathematical analysis how we're deploying the profiles we do have, and suggests we may not be using them wisely.

The study was performed by William Press, who does bioinformatics research at the University of Texas, Austin, with a joint appointment at Los Alamos National Labs. His background in statistics is apparent in his ability to handle various mathematical formulae with aplomb, but he's apparently used to explaining his work to biologists, since the descriptions that surround those formulae make the general outlines of the paper fairly accessible.

Press starts by examining what could be viewed as an idealized situation, at least from the screening perspective: a single perpetrator living under an authoritarian government that has perfect records on its citizens. Applying a profile to those records should allow the government to rank those citizens in order of risk, and it can screen them one-by-one until it identifies the actual perpetrator. Those circumstances lead to a pretty rapid screening process, and they can be generalized out to a situation where there are multiple likely perpetrators.

Things go rapidly sour for this system, however, as soon as you have an imperfect profile. In that case, which is more likely to reflect reality, there's a finite chance that the screening process misses a likely security risk. Since it works its way through the list of individuals iteratively, it never goes back to rescreen someone that's made it through the first pass. The impact of this flaw grows rapidly as the ability to accurately match the profile to the data available on an individual gets worse. Since we've already said that making a profile is challenging, and we know that even authoritarian governments don't have perfect information on their citizens, this system is probably worse than random screening in the real world.

Let's also remember that the 9-11 hijackers didn't come from enemy states, they came from Saudi Arabia who we consider an ally and from the United Arab Emirates who we nearly sold all of our ports to, years after 9-11.

More via Thinkprogress...

Indeed, terrorists come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and do not simply belong to one religion, ethnicity, or nationality. The “shoe bomber,” Richard Reid, was Jamaican and British. Al Qaeda recruit Adam Pearlman was a white American. Germaine Lindsay, one of London’s 7/7 bombers, was Afro-Caribbean. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a black African.

Jose Padilla was an American Citizen of Latino descent as was Bryan Neal Vinas, a Long Island resident, former Catholic and Boy Scout who converted to Islam moved to Pakistan where he was caught fighting U.S. Forces with the Taliban.

And lastly let's recall Faisal Shahzad - who looks more like a trendy club hopper than a Terrorist - is also a Naturalized American Citizen with an MBA, who originally came from a country - Pakistan - that had never committed an act of international terrorism before.

The fact is that Racial Profiling doesn't work. The ACLU has sponsored a variety of studies of the techniques use by Law Enforcement via Racial Profiling.

While Hispanics comprise less than eight percent of the Illinois population, and take fewer than three percent of the personal vehicle trips in Illinois, they comprise approximately 30 percent of the motorists stopped by ISP drug interdiction officers for discretionary offenses such as failure to signal a lane change or driving one to four miles over the speed limit. For example, in ISP District 13, which covers seven counties southeast of St. Louis, Hispanics comprise less than one percent of the local driving-age population, yet they represent 29 percent of all people stopped by these officers for speeding less than five miles above the speed limit.

While African Americans comprise less than 15 percent of the Illinois population and take approximately 10 percent of the personal vehicle trips in Illinois, they comprise 23 percent of the searches conducted by Valkyrie officers. In District 4, where African-Americans comprise 24 percent of the local driving-age population, but are the targets of 63 percent of the searches.

The main problem as has been shown in many studies is that even though there was no evidence that Black or Latino drivers "drive worse" and therefore are legitimately creating the cause of the stop on their own, they are nonetheless searched 2 or 3 Times as Often regardless of the reason for the stop and the "Hit Rate" - the percentage of finding drugs or other contraband - among Whites, Latinos and Blacks are pretty much equal and sometimes Greater for Whites.

While troopers ask a higher percentage of Hispanic motorists than white motorists for consent to search their vehicles, they find contraband in a lower percentage of the vehicles of Hispanic motorists. This demonstrates that searches are based on race, not results.

So if they aren't finding MORE drugs, More often by targeting people racially - why are they stopping and searching these particular people? And why aren't we all clamoring for them to STOP WASTING TIME AND TAX PAYER FUNDS HARASSING INNOCENT PEOPLE WITH UNNECESSARY STOPS AND SEARCHES? Also it seems to me that if I needed a drug courier, they would be safer and less likely to be be searched and caught - if they were White.

The same issues would apply to using these failed techniques to fight terrorism (al Qeada and the Taliban know this hence they don't recruit people from the most "obvious" places - instead using Abdulmuttalab from Senegal or Vinas from Long Island).

These issue also apply to capturing illegal aliens, it's not just about what you look like, it should be about what your doing (aka Probable Cause).

Yet people like Finelli apparently think that when al Qeada needs a new suicide bomber, they make a call to Central Casting. Finelli's ad - and what he must have done to find people to play the "terrorists" kinda reminds me of how Hollywood Based stereotypes have seeped into our consciousness for decades and not by accident as shown by Robert Townsend's "Hollywood Shuffle" over 23 years ago - I think of it as Terrorist Acting School.

Not counting Finelli, certainly we've come long way Brotha from those dark days as this more recent scene from Showtime's Sleeper Cell (showing a Black Muslim FBI agent as the main character attempting to infiltrate an al Qeada Cell in East L.A. which includes both Latino's & Whites and is led by the Daily Show's Aasiv Manvi - Yes, Aasiv Manvi played a Terrorist - Black people may have gotten out of the Stereotypical Hollywood Box, but Asians and Arabs haven't yet!)

Somehow I think these guys would have completely defeated Finelli's brilliant strategery to foil their plot simply by not LOOKING like who he thinks they should.


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