Discovery of CD proves terror threat still looms

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 8, 2004

Tribune editorial board

So where is the next battleground in the war on terror? As terrifying as the mere notion may be, could it be America's schoolyards?

Evidence found this summer in Iraq conjures up a long line of gut-wrenching "what-ifs" running through our heads.

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Members of the U.S. military found a CD containing crisis-planning information about six school districts in five states.

The information did not contain national secrets, but it did contain information on how schools planned to prepare for a crisis.

The CD contained information that was all publicly accessible, downloaded from the Internet.

Federal authorities are quick to caution that the material might be harmless. Perhaps the person who downloaded the information was researching ways to rebuild schools in Iraq. The discovery could be harmless, but it could demonstrate yet another vulnerability previously unrealized.

Images of the recent deadly school siege in Beslan, Russia, come to mind. In that siege more than 330 people were killed, many of them students.

Federal agents were concerned enough by the information on the CD to warn each district mentioned on the CD.

Regardless of which side of the political fence one resides, continuing evidence leaves no doubt that the war on terror continues and we must work to examine every possibility that a terrorist might explore.

Remember, four years ago none of us would have imagined that a handful of terrorists could use razors and box cutters to take command of jumbo jets and fly them into deadly infamy.

America should work hard to never be caught by surprise again. All warning signs, even potential ones, must be explored to the fullest. As we look to this year's election and the candidate vying for positions, both national and local, remember to vote for candidates who place a high priority on security. We cannot afford to allow our school grounds to become the next battlegrounds.