WATCH Chris Matthews: ‘Can't the FBI Just Racially Profile Boston Suspects from Photos?’

“Not to be into racial profiling...” Matthew warns, before he asks if we can racially profile.

Photo Credit:

“To be blunt, and not to be into … racial profiling…” is probably never a great way for a news anchor to start a sentence — but Chris Matthews went for it anyway.

According to Mediaite, Matthews asked his guests, former FBI agent Don Borelli and former ATF agent James Cavanaugh, if the FBI could figure out the Boston bombing suspects’ nationalities from the released video and photos.

Matthews asked:

Don't let big tech control what news you see. Get more stories like this in your inbox, every day.

To be blunt, and not to be into political profiling or racial profiling, but when you look at a picture like we’re looking at now, are there people in the FBI, in the investigative world, that can look at that picture, study it ethnographically and figure what the odds are on a fellow like that being from different parts of the world, say Yemen or any other parts like that? Can they figure it out by looking at a picture?

Or to sum up what he really wants to ask: ‘Does the FBI have racial profiling experts?’

As Borelli tried to explain that he hasn’t heard of any experts who can determine where a person was born based on a photo, Matthews continued to wonder if a face could be used to identify someone’s nationality — just like DNA.

Matthews asked:

“We can do that with DNA now. You or I can go in and find out where our DNA came from. How far it took us to get from Africa to here over the centuries. Can they do that with a face?”

Cavanaugh responded by also saying that he hasn’t heard of anyone with these abilities and politely added, “The way the world is — that’s pretty hard to discern.” A.k.a. people within countries don’t look the same, and so it would be quite difficult to judge the nationalities of the suspects by their faces. 

You can watch Matthews below:


Alyssa Figueroa is an associate editor at AlterNet.