THE MCINERNEY PROFILING PLAN…. The right-wing push for racial profiling has been pretty aggressive since the failed Christmas-day plot, but no one can make the case quite as creatively as Tom McInerney.

On Fox News yesterday, retired Lt. General Tom McInerney declared that the United States needs to “be very serious and harsh about the profiling.” “If you are an 18 to 28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched,” said McInerney. “And if we don’t do that, there’s a very high probability we’re going to lose an airliner.” Watch it:

Host Julie Banderas pushed back against McInerney, saying that racial profiling is “extremely controversial” and would likely “generate more violence and hatred towards the West.” McInerney then claimed that what he was calling for was “not racial profiling.” “I do not want to racial profile,” said McInerney. “I want to profile on that group that we have enough evidence from 9/11 and other cases, Moussaoui, etcetera, that we know what we’re looking at.”

I see. McInerney doesn’t want to racially profile; he just wants to profile based on ethnicity, religion, and national origin. That’s much better.

Former Bush Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, of all people, offered a pretty compelling explanation yesterday of why the right-wing push on this is misguided. Chertoff, not exactly an ACLU member, said “relying on preconceptions or stereotypes is actually kind of misleading and arguably dangerous,” in part because terrorist networks deliberately recruit those “who don’t fit the stereotype.”

But let’s also not overlook who, exactly, Tom McInerney is, and whether his national security arguments deserve to be taken seriously.

In 2002, for example, McInerney assured Americans the war in Iraq “will be a war that is shorter than” the 1991 Gulf War, which lasted 42 days. He was only off by about seven years — and counting.

In 2005, McInerney insisted that terrorists no longer feel the need to attack inside the United States because we have “leftists in America who have aided and abetted the enemy more than Tokyo Rose did in World War II.”

In 2006, McInerney was asked about the non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the basis for the U.S. invasion. He insisted, in all seriousness, that the weapons were in Iraq, before Russia secretly entered the country to move the stockpiles to Syria.

The question isn’t whether McInerney’s profiling plan has merit — it’s obviously foolish — the question is why McInerney is frequently sought out by media outlets as a credible figure with something to add to the public discourse.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.