The U.S. government should "discriminate" and "profile" for radical Islamic terrorists, former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Wednesday morning.

The Georgia Republican said in an op-ed in the conservative Human Events magazine that the U.S. for years has shied away from profiling for radical Islamic terrorists because of "political correctness" that has prevented "honesty" from guiding anti-terror policy.

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"It is time to know more about would-be terrorists, to profile for terrorists and to actively discriminate based on suspicious terrorist information," Gingrich wrote. "We know our opponents are radical extremists of the irreconcilable wing of Islam (Islamists, some would call them)."

Gingrich did not elaborate on how the government would incorporate "discrimination" into its strategy but did call on President Barack Obama to appoint a new Homeland Security secretary who "knows we need a new strategy."

The former Speaker's words come as lawmakers have begun to debate the merits of racial or ethnic profiling as part of a counter-terror strategy.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Tuesday that airport security personnel should keep watch for any suspicious figures, regardless of their ethnic background.

"You pat down every person who's suspicious. I don't think you have to target people," Thompson told MSNBC. "This Swedish grandmother could just as well be a part of a terrorist plot as anyone else. So I think we have to be very careful when we try to target people."

Gingrich, who has been mentioned as a presidential candidate in 2012, disagreed, saying that it's better to focus what he says are America's known enemies than to cast a wide net. 

"The scale, persistence and sophistication of the enemy requires an honesty, a clarity, and a scale appropriate to the response," he said. "Instead of targeting the source of the threats, our politically correct government decides to make life more miserable for the travelling public by imposing hopelessly meaningless rules such as not allowing passengers to leave their seats in the last hour of the flight."

He continued, saying, "Bound by cultural sensitivities, the default reaction of the bureaucracy is to review the procedures and wring its hands ineffectively."

Though Gingrich said that the problem has persisted for many years, he specifically targeted the Obama administration, saying "protecting the rights of terrorists has been more important than protecting the lives of Americans."