New York University students in a class on transnational terrorism cannot pass the course until they “hypothetically plan a terrorist attack” of their own, including details about location and how they would carry out their dastardly plans.
An investigative report compiled by the New York Post, unveils how students of former Navy criminal investigator Marie-Helen Maras are asked to “step into [a terrorist’s] shoes” to write a 10- to 15-page paper on their proposed act of terror.
“In your paper, you must describe your hypothetical attack and what will happen in the aftermath of the attack,” Maras wrote in the syllabus obtained by The Post.
The students are also reportedly required to outline a government-response plan to the attack.
Ryan Singel, editor of Wired’s “Threat Level” blog, offered a critique of The Post’s alarmism that is rife with sarcasm.
I know you apologists will say such an exercise is intended to train analysts to know how to think like their adversaries, and be able to understand how to detect and disrupt attacks. But that’s just fancy intellectualizing.
…But we need to do more than keep our students from drawing up plots for terrorists and then e-mailing their homework to them.
We need to rein in Hollywood and put export controls on — or even better — ban terrorist-communications-masquerading-as-entertainment like “Live Free or Die,” “Homeland,” and “24“. We should even consider controls on well-intentioned fare like the “Red Dawn” and “Rambo” movies from the 1980s.
The only way to keep the terrorists in the Dark Ages is to keep them in the dark, even if we have to sacrifice by living there too. Our bright future depends on it.
But perhaps there is a bigger picture than whether it is dangerous for graduate students to plot terrorist attacks and government response scenarios in class. The terrorism-lurks-around-every-corner mentality has become the American norm in the years since 9/11’s devastation — even as there have been an underwhelming number of terrorist attacks during the same period.
The students may still be gaining valuable skill, however, in learning to set up and subsequently thwart acts of terrorism — especially if you consider the way “counterterrorism” has largely worked in the past decade or so. Government agencies like the FBI set up elaborate plots, find weak-minded patsies to play along, equip them and then sweep in to save the day.
The New York Times pointed out in April: “Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.”
The most recent FBI plot was earlier this month when the agency convinced a 21-year-old Bangladeshi man that he wanted to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank of New York:
From New York Daily News:
While en route to his target Wednesday morning, [Rezwanul ] Nafis bragged to his accomplices — actually undercovers working for the FBI — that he had a “Plan B” to conduct a suicide bombing operation if cops thwarted his Federal Reserve mission.
…[The FBI’s acting assistant director in New York] insisted the public was never at risk because the explosives he had accumulated with the help of an undercover FBI agent and an FBI source posing as his accomplices were inert.
The Federal agents keep their jobs, the American people remain terrified of anyone who is lightly brown on an airplane or wearing a turban near a government building, and the security/police state continues to grow for when the elitists in charge will need it the most: when factions of the citizen population realize the folly of bureaucracy and take the advice of the Founders regarding tyrannical government.
Until then, enjoy your radioactive airport body scans, your government’s ability to conduct surveillance and make arrests at will and without warrant, and the continued militarization of and Federalized partnerships being made by your local law enforcement.
Americans should be frightened, but not of a “terrorist’s” potential to acquire an NYU student’s notebook; it’s what students may be required to do by their Federal masters in the not-so-distant future that’s scary.