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Michael Chertoff on Civil Rights

Director of Homeland Security


Dead set against religious profiling

I am dead set against religious profiling. First, it is counterproductive. We do need to reach out to and we will not do well if the world walks away with impression that we are fighting a war against a religion, because we will do very poorly in the world, and we’ll be very - do very poorly with the hearts and minds we need to win. Second, I can guarantee you that if we telegraph that we’re going to look at a particular type of person when they come into the country, that al Qaeda will find someone who does not look like that person to come in and carry a bomb. So we would be making a big mistake if we were so obvious and so kind of unsophisticated in what we do. Third, it strikes the fabric of our own country and what we believe in our Constitution and our civil liberties to single out people based upon their religion. People who have consciously adopted an ideology of hate and war we should be remorseless with, we should pursue without quarter. Religion should not enter into it.
Source: Testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee , Apr 13, 2005

Take account of legitimate concerns about privacy

We have some pilot programs with respect to privatizing, and that is certainly an option which the current system lays open for them. In terms of our doing things we ought to do under the safety act, we’ve not been as efficient as we should be. That’s an issue we’re going to look at.

There is no question that a key part of the issue of dealing with aviation security is technology. The issue of explosives is obviously of great concern. Now that’s a little different than the 9/11 issue which involved people turning aircraft into weapons. But it’s of course in itself a serious issue. There are technologies out there that we have to start taking a serious look at in terms of whether they can be deployed, and how they would operate, and that includes a back scatter, it includes puffing. And some of these things, people have arguments about whether they are intrusive or not. And we have to think about ways to deal with those arguments in ways that take account of legitimate concerns about privacy.

Source: Testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee , Apr 13, 2005

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Page last updated: Dec 15, 2011