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Volume 68, Issue 150, Monday, June 23, 2003 

Opinion

New rules won't stop profiling

Craig Byrnes
Opinion Columnist

President George W. Bush issued guidelines last week prohibiting federal agents from employing the use of race or ethnicity in regular investigations and traffic stops, an issue the Justice Department refers to in its recent report as not "a systematic problem."

Bush avoided issuing an executive order on the subject by referring to it as "guidance" from the Justice Department, thus causing it to possibly lack the enforcement power it could have had.

Bush has a re-election campaign requiring his attention as well as a great war on terror, so it is not surprising that the president would send this civil rights issue down the line. 

The problem is the "guidance" will not do enough to stop racial profiling, and in some cases it could actually make it easier to engage in.

"Itis largely a rhetorical statement. The administration is trying to soften its image, but itis smoke and mirrors," said Laura Murphy, director of the Washington office of the American Civil Liberties Union, in a New York Times interview. Under development for two years, the policy is not as sharp-toothed as it should be, leaving loopholes the size of Canada, and softening the already slipshod policy in the area of national security.

Sure. Considering the terrorist attacks against the United States, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that profiling is used when the interest of national security is involved. A problem arises when it begins to look like the current administration is using the blanket of national security to push through ideals that skirt the line of unconstitutionality, and seem to set back the progress of the civil rights movement. 

Spin-filled officials claim the policy allows profiling in "narrow" situations to help "identify terrorist threats and stop potential catastrophic attacks." Using the same rhetoric they have been using since 9/11 seemingly appeals to brainwashed, conservative and frightened Americans, and it is this condition that is disturbing.

"There seem to be a lot of ‘butsi and ‘howeversi here that would allow profiling of Arabs and Muslims to continue," Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations told the Times. 

The policy will make life harder on people of Middle Eastern descent, while taking the country back to the days of FDR and World War II, when it was the Japanese being singled out.

According to the White House, the policy will be rigorously enforced and is a gigantic step for the nation, saying it goes above and beyond the Constitution and current civil rights laws. Is this for the good of the people?

Maybe. Is it for the good of the presidentis political purposes?

Yes.

Byrnes, a junior print journalism major, can be reached via dcougar@mail.uh.edu.
 

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