So Is Profiling Okay or Not?

The Port Deal is in the news yet again today, with lawmakers in Congress continuing to raise shrill criticisms of the decision to allow a company based in the United Arab Emirates to take over operations at six U.S. ports from a British company. President Bush has threatened to veto a bill blocking the sale; his question to the Congress has thus far remained unanswered: why is it acceptable for a British company to run operations at U.S. ports but not a UAE company? And yet lawmaker from both parties are decrying the sale.

The Democratic leadership in Congress is joinging in the criticism. Frankly, this seems a particularly strange position for congressional democrats to be taking. Let me see if I understand this correctly: 99.9% of terrorists are Muslims and a majority of those Muslim terrorists are Arabs; nevertheless it would be wrong to profile Arabs or other people of Middle Eastern ethnicity in airports and elsewhere for heightened scrutiny based on their ethnicity and the laws of statistics and probability. (But see MacDonald on Rational Profiling in his article R. Spencer MacDonald, Rational Profiling in America's Airports, 17 BYU J. Pub. L. 113, 115-16 (2002) for an alternate view on the possibility of profiling.) However, democrats have no problem with profiling a company in the same way, criticizing a sale of port operations to it purely based on the fact that the company is located in the UAE. Is the logic parallel or not?

The logic underlying the criticism has been expressed by democrat Senator Schumer as follows: two of the terrorists from 9/11 were from the UAE; the company at issue here is from the UAE; ergo a sale to this company poses a threat to security. How is this not profiling? How is this not identical to subjecting Arabs and Muslims to heightened scrutiny in airports? And yet, I am 100% sure that Mr. Schumer and his fellow party members would be loathe to allow rational profiling in airports or elsewhere based on this logic.

So my question to congressional democrats is, is profiling okay or not?