Ashcroft’s Fingerprinting of Arabs Brings Common Sense to National Security

June 12, 2002

by Mary Mostert, Analyst - Banner of Liberty

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced implementation of a National Security Entry-Exit Registration System that will “expand substantially America’s scrutiny of those foreign visitors who may pose a national security concern and enter our country.”

In a nutshell, it means that for the first time the “National Security Entry-Exit Registration System … already contained in U.S. law,” some of which was passed by Congress as far back as 1952 and the rest of which was passed by Congress during the Clinton Administration in the 1990s, will actually be implemented.

A key component of the system, according to Ashcroft, would “run the fingerprints of entering aliens against a database of thousands of known terrorists.”

This blatant effort on the part of the Bush Administration to obey the laws written by Congress, has, of course, been soundly condemned by Democrats.

The Detroit News reported Rep. John Conyers, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, as saying, “It is as though the equal protection clause had no meaning or context whatsoever to the authors of this Orwellian proposal. We have long fought repressive and totalitarian regimes that sought to register their people, ban them from public places and eventually incarcerate them based solely on their race or religion.

What exactly is “Orwellian” about checking fingerprints of people traveling to America from countries known to be inhabited by many terrorists and checking their fingerprints against a database of thousands of known terrorists? Isn’t it about time that we stop the silly nonsense that has been taking place in the guise of “security” at America’s airports where elderly and infirm American citizens are harassed and sometimes injured by search procedures while Middle-Easterners are studiously allowed to pass without close scrutiny, lest there be a charge of “discrimination?”

CNN reported that Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations complained that John Walker Lindh, the American captured in Afghanistan while fighting with the Taliban, would not have “been covered” by the newly enforced laws.

"There will be selective application against Arabs and Muslims and this is pure form of discrimination," he complained. "It tells me the Justice Department is losing its sense of justice. It shows the government has been ineffective in preventing September 11 and now we are getting involved in a coverup operation by just rounding up the usual suspects."

Right. Awad wants to continue the system that trapped 89 year-old, nearly blind Melba, my daughter’s mother-in-law, while returning from the Bahamas after a family vacation on a cruise ship. As Melba came through the security system in Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s airport, with her cane in one hand, and leaning on her young grandson’s arm with the other, she was halted and ordered to surrender the cane. She did.

Then, her grandson was ordered to go to a booth for a thorough search as Melba, with now neither a cane nor a supportive arm, felt her way through the security gate. She was stopped, again, and ordered to remove her shoes. As she bent over to remove her shoes, without her cane or the support of her grandson, she lost her balance, fell, and hit her head on something sharp. Everyone else in the family was either being subjected to search or halted from being with her to help her and for a moment, she just lay there - with NO help.

She ended up in the hospital in Fort Lauderdale for a week.

Now, I ask you, how many nearly blind 89-year-old female Americans with pre-revolutionary ancestry have hi-jacked airplanes or committed terrorist acts in the last 20 years? In the silly effort to not “profile” those who belong to the same ethnic or religious group as ALL of the airplane hijackers who have killed thousands of Americans and done hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property damage , the Fort Lauderdale Airport security guards totally eliminated Melba’s personal security.

Furthermore, by spending all the time and money the Airport spent on making sure that Melba was not carrying a bomb in her cane or in her shoes, how many people went through the line unchecked because of what was going on with Melba?

How in the world have we been stupid enough, as a people, to buy into the nonsense about avoiding “racial profiling” when searching for murderers or maintaining our national security? The FBI crime statistics indicate that you are 6000 times more apt to be murdered by a young, black male than you are by a middle-aged Asian female. Does it make sense, perhaps, to spend more money and time looking for a murderers among black males than an Asian females?

Of course, using the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) illogic, it is grossly unfair to look for murderers within the groups that, statistically, produce most of the murders in America. The ACLU called Ashcroft’s announcement that he would obey the law as passed by Congress and signed by Clinton, “discriminatory” and “ineffective.”

Timothy Edgar, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, stated, “The Bush Administration is, step by step, isolating Muslim and Arab communities both in the eyes of the government and the American public. This latest move needs to be seen in the larger context of all the actions targeted at people of Middle Eastern descent since September 11."

Now, I ask you, how can it possibly be more discriminatory and ineffective to look for terrorists among those of Middle Eastern descent, when we see on a daily basis that terrorist actions in the news seem to involve people of Middle Eastern descent?

I suggest that Melba was the target of a clearly discriminatory and ineffective search system, which physically harmed her, and which was instigated purely and simply to harass her, since any rational person would know she would be physically incapable of hi-jacking an airplane. Melba was hurt physically because political correct thinking says that searching among the Middle-Eastern Muslims for Middle-Eastern Muslim terrorists might hurt their feelings.


Mary Mostert was writing professionally on political issues as a teen-ager in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1940s. In the 1960s, she wrote a weekly column for the Rochester Times Union, a Gannett paper and was one of 52 American women who attended the 17 Nation Disarmament Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to ban testing of nuclear bombs in the atmosphere. She was a licensed building contractor for 29 years, as she raised her six children. She served an 18 month mission as Public Affairs Director for the Africa Area for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1990-91. In the 1990s she wrote a book, Coming Home, Families Can Stop the Unraveling of America, edited the Reagan Monthly Monitor and talk show host Michael Reagan’s Information Interchange for seven years. She now operates the website, Banner of Liberty.

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