DAN HARRIS: Joining us now to debate whether we ought to be using profiling, former FBI agent Michael German who know works for the ACLU, the American Civil Liberties Union. He is against profiling and Steven Emerson. He is the Director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He is a former journalist who has been sounding alarms about Islamic radicalism for more than a decade now. He says profiling can be a useful tool. Welcome to both of you.
MICHAEL GERMAN: Thank you.
STEVEN EMERSON: Good morning.
HARRIS: Michael, let me start with you. Let me run something by you that was said by an Israeli counterterrorism expert to our chief justice correspondent, Pierre Thomas. He said this. That all Muslims are not terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslims. Given that logic, doesn't it make sense to do some profiling at airports?
GERMAN: Ah, no because of course that's not true. Terrorists come in all shapes and sizes; all nationalities, all different political and religious causes.
HARRIS: But the vast majority of attacks in recent years have been perpetrated by radical Muslims, no?
GERMAN: Actually, no. If you look around the country there have been any number of White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis sort of activities. A dirty bomb was found in Bangor, Maine December of last year. A chemical weapon was found in Noonday, Texas in 2004. Neither one of those events were covered much because they were White Supremacists and Right Wing militias rather than Muslim extremists, but that doesn't mean that that threat doesn't exist.
HARRIS: Couldn't we add them to the profile, though? Couldn't we start profiling White Supremacists as well?
GERMAN: And now you're profile includes everybody because of course there are Irish terrorists, there Puerto Rican national terrorists. There are South American drug courier terrorists. It's simply an ineffective way. It's unconstitutional, it's ineffective and it's actually counterproductive.
HARRIS: Steven. Let me jump in for a second. Steven, the argument against profiling is that it's counterproductive as Michael just said; that it violates our values, which is exactly what the terrorists want us to do because it helps them recruit.
EMERSON: Look, I don't buy it. The fact is, what I say is do smart screening. Ethnicity is one of the factors that should be included in the profile. After all, what is profiling? You're extrapolating the common characteristics of the terrorist attacks. 100% of all the terrorist attacks against the United States last year were carried out by Muslim jihadists. So, if that's the one common denominator, let's include that in the mix. That at airports would trigger a secondary inspection in which case the bomber on Christmas Day this year, maybe have they found the bomb.
HARRIS: How would they have found it? How does he fit a profile?
EMERSON: Well, first of all, he was a Nigerian Muslim young male jihadist.
HARRIS: But Muslim doesn't show up on his passport.
EMERSON: No it doesn't. But his name certainly was a Muslim name and the fact is, in the database, his father complained and was worried about the fact that he was a Muslim extremist. Look, it works. Mohammad al-Qahtani, look let me make this last point, Mohammad al-Qahtani, the 20th hijacker was stopped in Orlando in 2001 because of profiling. Ahmed Ressam, an Al Qaeda bomber in Vancouver, Canada was stopped coming into the United States in December 1999 because of profiling. I'm not saying to use it to the exclusion of other factors, but if somebody visits Yemen, and they happen to be Muslim and they happened to be male, include it in the mix. Use smart screening to stop terrorist attacks.
HARRIS: Michael, what's the alternative?
GERMAN: The alternative is doing investigations based on facts that establish a reasonable belief that somebody might be doing something wrong and here you've been covering all morning that there were a number of facts out there that could have been followed up on if the law enforcement and intelligence agencies had resources for that type of investigatory activity. Instead we're pouring all of our resources into these bloated watchlist that-
EMERSON: And that's exactly why the problem exists because they're bloated because we don't extrapolate. 550,000 people on a watchlist which makes it meaningless. Al Gore gets inspected at an airport, I mean that's ridiculous. The fact is there is a common characteristic. Let's be smart about this.
GERMAN: That actually isn't true. Look at Richard Reid. Look at Germaine Lindsay. Look at-
EMERSON: What about them?
EMERSON: What was the common characteristic of Richard Reid, Germaine Lindsay, Ahmed Ressam, Mohammad al-Qahtani, this Nigerian bomber.
GERMAN: Timothy McVeigh, Eric Rudolph, the attack on the Holocaust Museum-
EMERSON: No I'm not saying-
GERMAN: The dirty bomb in Maine.
HARRIS: Michael, let me just jump in a second, Michael, Steven is not saying rule out White Supremacists, but one factor, one potential tool that could be used is profiling.
GERMAN: Profiling for what? What are you-race?
EMERSON: What is the one common characteristic?
HARRIS: Adam Gadahn is on the FBI's most wanted list. He was a-
EMERSON: Are you going to inspect 98 year old ladies from Sweden in wheelchairs because we're trying to distribute the risk among 300 million Americans when the risk category is really spread 99 to 1 million people? No I don't buy it. Let's be smart about this.
GERMAN: Annie Murphey an Irish woman-
GERMAN: -who was a proxy to get a bomb onto an airplane.
EMERSON: Ok, the fact-
GERMAN: There is actually a more important point. You know you said in one of your earlier segments that one of the triggers for terrorists is experiencing racism. So obviously developing racist counterterrorist policies is quite counterproductive because you can have-
HARRIS: Michael, Steven, I've got to break it up right there. This is a fascinating debate. Unfortunately we are out of time but I want to thank both of you. That's Michael German from the ACLU and Steven Emerson fro the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Thank you again. As you can see this is a provocative debate.