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Special Report

All-Star Panel: The beginning of the end of profiling?

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," December 8, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Given the opponents that we face both here and certainly overseas, we can't afford to profile, to do law enforcement on the basis of stereotypes. It undermines the public trust ultimately.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you still think that America is a nation of cowards when it comes to race?

HOLDER: I think that we as a nation are still too reluctant to talk about issues of race. We have made substantial progress as a nation, we have made great progress. But we still as a nation have more to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BAIER: Attorney General Eric Holder announcing new DOJ guidelines for profiling, prohibiting profiling, a whole list of other categories.  Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat from Illinois, says there's a problem here.  "Profiling is ineffective, profoundly unfair, and has fanned the flames of racial division in communities across the United States. The Justice Department pledged to right this wrong, but this new guidance falls short by limiting policy of federal agents and federal task forces, it exempts every other level of law enforcement, local, county, and state. That's unacceptable. It also exempts customs and border patrol." Other people are saying it ties the hands of law enforcement as we're in the middle of all of this fighting with terrorists around the country and the world.

We're back with our panel. Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, Durbin has his finger on something, but he's missing the point, which is it renders the policy entirely self- contradictory. Holder issued a statement saying that it is not only wrong, it's profoundly misguided and ineffective because it wastes precious resources.  Well, if that's the case, why do you allow it to be done by TSA at airports, by DHS at ports, and to be used by the Secret Service? If it's ineffective, why would you then exempt them?

Obviously, the reason that you are allowing it in all of these instances is when there is something that is really important, like the protection of a president or preventing the blowing up of an airplane, it's OK because it's effective. That's exactly what is implied in a policy which has exemption, which is why the ACLU, which is outraged, calls it baffling that all of these exceptions exist. It's not baffling. It's because in defending you and me, ideology trumps that. But defending the president or protecting an airplane, ideology has to take a second place.

BAIER: Chuck?

LANE: I'm going to say I think this is a nothing burger, what Eric Holder has just announced, for a couple of reasons. What Dick Durbin said is absolutely true. It doesn't affect state and local law enforcement, which is the vast majority of police-civilian encounters. And of course what Senator Durbin left out is the Justice Department had no authority under the law to issue such a decree.

But secondly, if you look specifically at what he is banning here, it's profiling based on national origin, religion, and sexuality. Even if you had added those to state and local law enforcement, that wouldn't have affected a case like Michael Brown which is allegedly a racial case. So the new categories --

BAIER: Sure, but national origin could factor into some terrorist activity.

LANE: I'm talking about local law enforcement here. I mean, I don't think there's a big problem -- at least I hadn't heard of it before that there's a big problem with sexuality profiling in this country. And so he's adding a whole bunch of additional categories that really don't affect a whole lot of people.

And finally, the one area that he's extending racial profiling to, national security cases, that's like spying, counterintelligence stuff, again, no big deal.

BAIER: Speaking of the racial side, very quickly, Bloomberg, new poll, race relations under President Obama, a little better, a lot better, nine percent, stayed about the same, 36 percent, and gotten worse, race relations under this president, 53 percent. Steve?

HAYES: Well, I think one part of that is explained by the fact that we're taking a poll right now and people are -- these tensions are inflamed.

But I disagree with Chuck. If you want to talk about where profiling is practiced in terms of sexuality, my wife and I took the exact same trip through Istanbul, Turkey, and took the exact same trip back from Athens, Greece. I was placed on a terrorist watch list because I'm a man and I'm a threat. I think the assumption was that I was going to transit through Istanbul into Syria. My wife was not deemed the same level of threat. And you know what? That's appropriate. I don't think I'm a threat. You might think I'm a threat. But my wife certainly isn't a threat. So what Eric Holder did today was a disingenuous PR stunt. And it will have very little effect, and Charles is exactly right on the effectiveness.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned for a recap of this weekend's toughest sports matchup, the big red versus the big bear.

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