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Okla. governor: Racial profiling has role in terror war

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 3, 2002

PHILADELPHIA -- Some kinds of racial profiling are just what the country needs to track potential terrorists inside American borders and keep out those who have "mischief on their minds," one governor told the country's top terrorism prosecutor Saturday.

"I think it is negligent not to look at everything, including racial factors," when assessing potential terrorists, Gov. Frank Keating, R-Okla., said.

Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff had just finished assuring an American Bar Association audience that the United States is not using racial or ethnic profiling in the war on terror, although police and immigration officials on the front line may consider whether a potential suspect shares "common characteristics" with previously identified terrorists.

Keating and Chertoff were part of a panel discussing the security of Americans at home, and the legal and civil liberties issues arising from the government response to the Sept. 11 jetliner attacks.

Keating and others took the federal government to task, both for failing to prevent the Sept. 11 attacks and for not doing enough to stop future threats.

The Transportation Department is foolish to tell airport screeners not to consider some racial and ethnic factors when screening passengers, Keating said.

The department has instructed "if someone is speaking Arabic or reading the Koran or praying, that is not to be a factor at all," he said. "Well, that's reckless in my view."

INTERVIEW DONE UNDER DURESS: Arab television station Al-Jazeera said Saturday it never aired an October interview with Osama bin Laden because the interview was conducted under duress and the questions were dictated to its correspondent. CNN aired the video Thursday.

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