DIANE SAWYER: And back here at home you can hear it all day on talk radio; the Christmas Incident prompting urgent calls for the use of racial profiling as part of overall airport security. As we said last night, other countries do it without apology, but is it effective or right? We turn to Pierre Thomas.
PIERRE THOMAS: It's the question many Americans are privately pondering in the wake of the failed Christmas attack. Should authorities single out people in airports based on race or ethnicity to stop terrorism? Is profiling really an effective law enforcement tool?
STEVEN EMERSON: What was the number one common denominator of all these Islamic terrorists who attacked the United States last year? They were males, they were Muslim, and they were jihadists.
THOMAS: We put that question to two security experts. Counterterrorist Analyst, Steven Emerson and Mike German a former FBI profiler now with the ACLU.
EMERSON: We have become such a politically correct society.
THOMAS: Mike, is political correctness putting us at risk?
MICHAEL GERMAN: No, I totally disagree with that. It's not political correctness, its just correctness. You know, if you look at the studies that actually look at real terrorists, every single one tells you that terrorist profile.
THOMAS: German pointed out that Timothy McVeigh was not a Muslim jihadist.
GERMAN: Having a racist policy that has a disparate impact on a certain community only increases the hostility towards the government.
THOMAS: Some police routinely use racial profiling, but hide it by citing other factors.
GERMAN: American Muslims returning from overseas travel are routinely harassed because of their religion.
THOMAS: Is that fair?
EMERSON: I'm not suggesting that someone just relies exclusively on racial ethnicity. I'm saying put that in; don't exclude that from the mix.
THOMAS: But what happens if there are a series of successful bombing attacks on U.S. soil.
Do you think we're on the road to profiling?
GERMAN: I think there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that the government already is racial profiling.
EMERSON: If there are enough dead in the streets, we'll end up doing things we don't want to do.
THOMAS: Diane, many legal scholars believe that using race or religion solely in targeting people for additional screening is unconstitutional, but no one is willing to predict what the country might tolerate in worse case scenarios.
SAWYER: Ok, Pierre, and thanks to you.