Schools Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack: Some Security Experts Say U.S. Schools Offer Soft Targets for Terrorists and Warn That Efforts to Improve Safety Are Being Hampered by Denial and by Concern about Image. (Nation: Campus Security)

By Maier, Timothy W. | Insight on the News, September 9, 2002 | Go to article overview

Schools Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack: Some Security Experts Say U.S. Schools Offer Soft Targets for Terrorists and Warn That Efforts to Improve Safety Are Being Hampered by Denial and by Concern about Image. (Nation: Campus Security)


Maier, Timothy W., Insight on the News


The shocking videotape of the explosion that rocked Hebrew University in Israel sent chills through American parents who wondered if it could happen here. Surely not. But the fact is that it has happened here--for instance, when four left-wing radicals targeted the Army Math Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to demonstrate their opposition to the Vietnam War.

It was Aug. 24,1970, when the explosion shocked a nation that thought its schools were safe from a faraway war. Curiously, that was domestic terrorism comparable in its simplistic method to the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995. In Madison, too, a homemade bomb was packed with ammonium-nitrate fertilizer, mixed with fuel oil and given a dynamite detonator. It was exploded in a stolen van parked at the loading dock of the Army Research Center, killing a graduate student and seriously injuring five others.

None of the victims had anything to do with the Army center. The blast also did $6 million worth of damage to property, destroying 20 buildings.

Three of the four suspects, brothers Karl and Dwight Armstrong and David Fine, were arrested and served time in prison. The fourth, Leo Burt, went underground and surfaced only once, in 1972, when he published a manifesto. Later, the FBI named Burt as one of 200 possible Unabomber suspects. Eventually the preponderance of Unabomber evidence pointed to Theodore Kaczynski, who appears oddly to have plagiarized part of Burt's manifesto for his own rambling discourse on the "Industrial Society and Its Future."

While this sort of domestic terrorism may have seemed unthinkable in the United States until 1970, it certainly is on the minds of security consultants who worry today that America's schools are ill-prepared to deal with such threats. In fact, it appears the schools learned little or nothing from their Vietnam-era experience, especially when it comes to protecting laboratories.

"Colleges are very focused on protecting students in their dorms. While the dorms are closed, the labs are pretty much open places housed in businesses and academic classrooms," says John Fannin, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Delaware-based SafePlace Corp., which provides safety-accreditation services for lodging facilities, health-care facilities, assisted-living communities and schools. He says, "Colleges are poorly prepared for a terrorist act against their chemical and biological labs."

Fannin believes another vulnerability on college campuses involves protecting intellectual property. In many schools, he says, the door is open for terrorists to "utilize [radioactive] materials or steal them to create a dirty bomb."

While some colleges, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, have set up special task forces to identify and help implement security for its biological, nuclear and chemical labs, there is no universal safety code or standard to measure whether such labs indeed are safe. "There isn't even a national fire code in this country," Fannin notes. As a result the codes differ from state to state and sometimes county to county. He would like to see the federal government set up some type of standard and says the government could withhold federal funds from schools if they chose not to implement an antiterrorist program.

Colleges are not the only schools that might become targets, warns Ken Trump, president and CEO of National School Safety and Security Services in Cleveland. In the last three years there have been 79 students killed in elementary, middle and high schools, according to media reports, and that number could pale in comparison if terrorists strike U.S. schools as they have in Israel. "The purpose of terrorism is to inflict mass fear and change the way we live," Trump says. "Terrorists may want to hit soft targets which lack security. Al-Qaeda has said it will hit us where we least expect it. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Schools Vulnerable to Terrorist Attack: Some Security Experts Say U.S. Schools Offer Soft Targets for Terrorists and Warn That Efforts to Improve Safety Are Being Hampered by Denial and by Concern about Image. (Nation: Campus Security)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.