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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Should US Airports Use Racial and Religious Profiling?

Another fascinating debate is available for viewing and/or listening at Intelligence Squared US (it is also available through iTunes), which is affiliated with Intelligence Squared, a UK based organisation that stages debates around the world.  As I've noted in previous posts, the debates are held in the traditional Oxford Style, with as many as 2,500 people attending some events. Typically, those attending vote prior to and after a debate, and the winning debate team is decided by which way the vote swings. So, for instance, if prior to the debate the audience favors the propositions by 55% but after only 51% favor it, then the opposing team is considered to have won the debate.

The most recent debate debated the motion: US Airports Should Use Racial and Religious Profiling.  Those arguing on behalf of the motion are Robert Baer,  Deroy Murdock and Asra Normani. Those arguing against it are Hassan Abbas, Debra Burlingame and Michael Chertoff.  Their biographies (from the Intelligence Squared US website) are printed below:

Those Arguing For the Motion:

Robert Baer was a CIA case officer in the Directorate of Operations from 1976 to 1997, where he served in Middle Eastern countries, including Iraq and Lebanon. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers: Sleeping with the Devil, about the Saudi royal family and its relationship with the United States; and See No Evil. He served as the inspiration for the George Clooney character in the movie Syriana.

Deroy Murdock is a libertarian and a syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. His column, “This Opinion Just In…” reaches approximately 400 newspapers across America each week.

Asra Q. Nomani, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 15 years, is the author of Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam. She is co-director of the Pearl Project, an investigation into the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Her activism for women's rights at her mosque in W.V. is the subject of a PBS documentary, The Mosque in Morgantown. She recently published a monograph, Milestones for a Spiritual Jihad: Toward an Islam of Grace.

Those Arguing Against the Motion:

Hassan Abbas is Quaid-i-Azam Professor at SIPA, Columbia University. He is also a senior advisor at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University and Bernard Schwartz Fellow at Asia Society in New York. Abbas has also been a visiting fellow at the Islamic Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School and a visiting scholar at the Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation. Prior to his academic career, Abbas served as a government official in the administrations of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and President Pervez Musharraf. While in the Police Service of Pakistan in the late 1990s, he served in the North-West Frontier Province (now Khyber Pukhtunkhwa).

Debra Burlingame is the sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines flight 77 which was hijacked and crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. She is the co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe & Strong America and a co-founder, along with Liz Cheney and William Kristol, of Keep America Safe. She has testified before Congress on aviation security, and has written for the Wall Street Journal and other national publications on national security issues. She is a board member on the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation.

Michael Chertoff served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009 for the Bush Administration. Before heading up the Department of Homeland Security, he served as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and as a federal prosecutor for more than a decade.

Just to recap, this debate is available at Intelligence Squared US and through iTunes.  A transcript of the debate is also available at the website,

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