Ivory Tower Terror


Can America be kept safe from college students who switch majors? According to the National Commission on Terrorism, it's a danger that needs to be addressed. Otherwise, foreign students could shift from such evidently innocuous fields as English literature to physics or chemistry, disciplines that, one gathers, might teach them to make bombs.

Congress set up the terrorism commission two years ago, after an Islamic faction bombed U.S. embassies in Africa. Interestingly, the terrorists responsible for those bombings don't seem to have studied in the United States.

The panel, made up of private security experts and former government officials, also wants the Pentagon, as opposed to civilian agencies, to take the lead in responding to major terrorist attacks on American soil. Implicit in that change would be a move away from the law-and-order model the U.S. has applied to terrorists for decades, which holds that terrorists are not warriors but simple criminals. Either that, or the commission wants Congress to revisit the Posse Comitatus Act and allow the military to enforce domestic law.

The notion of advancing foreign and domestic policy by acquainting foreign students with police state surveillance also seems suspect. That approach merely teaches that freedom doesn't work and that the ends justify the means.