A couple of items in today’s newspapers need to be juxtaposed.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A tour of the United States arranged by the State Department to improve ties to Pakistani legislators ended in a public relations fiasco when the members of the group refused to submit to extra airport screening in Washington, and they are now being hailed as heroes on their return home.
The leader of the parliamentary group, Senator Abbas Khan Afridi, said in an interview on Tuesday that before they were to board the flight for New Orleans, he and his colleagues were selected from a crowd of passengers at the airport and asked to stand aside.
They were then asked to accept a full-body scan by a machine, he said. Such body-scanning units are in use at 19 airports across the United States, and more are being installed.
One of Mr. Afridi’s colleagues, Akhunzada Chitan, told Mr. Mir on his “Capital Talk” program, “Going through a body scan makes you naked, and in making you naked, they make the whole country naked.”
A petite, blond-haired, blue-eyed high school dropout who allegedly used the nickname JihadJane was identified Tuesday as an alleged terrorist intent on recruiting others to her cause, as federal prosecutors unsealed criminal charges that could send her to prison for life.
Colleen Renee LaRose, 46, has been quietly held in U.S. custody since October on suspicions that she provided material support to terrorists and traveled to Sweden to launch an attack, according to federal officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case is continuing to unfold.
LaRose, who lived in suburban Philadelphia, allegedly recruited men and women in the United States, Europe and South Asia to “wage violent jihad,” according to an indictment issued in Pennsylvania.
So let’s break it down: Our new policy of limited racial profiling on international flights turns out to alienate even the very people the U.S. government is trying to win over in the struggle against terrorism. (And, uh, if they were here as guests of the U.S. government, why couldn’t the government find some way of expediting the security process for them? Wouldn’t that have been the smart thing to do?) Meanwhile, it turns out you don’t have to be a 22-year-old male student from Islamabad to have terroristic intentions — a petite middle-aged blonde woman from suburban Philly also poses a threat.
Somebody might be able to make the case that our security procedures gain us more in safety than we lose in angry lost allies — but we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that we aren’t losing something. Clearly we are. But it’s worth noting that under current profiling procedures, JihadJane would’ve had a clearer path to get on an American plane than a car salesman from Peshawar. So I’m dubious that we’re getting enough additional safety to justify the problems we’re making for ourselves.