A former CIA director is encouraging a Kansas University professor to move forward with a plan the professor says will help prevent future terrorist attacks on the United States.
Felix Moos, a KU anthropology professor, is promoting a plan to create ROTC-like programs on university campuses to train future national security and intelligence officers.
"I think Sept. 11 was a failure in our intelligence," Moos said. "We don't have enough people to follow all the leads we receive. We have a superb record of acquiring information, but somebody has to make sense of it all."
Moos has been encouraged by retired Adm. Stansfield Turner, director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Carter.
Moos and Turner met each other while Moos was a professor at the Naval War College and Turner was its president. Turner earlier this month wrote Moos after hearing of his plan.
"As we've discussed many times, our country is woefully short on intelligence experts who truly understand what makes other countries tick," Turner wrote. "Your idea would be a big help."
Moos' plan involves recruiting college students interested in foreign service and intelligence work and giving them special training through existing ROTC programs. Enlisted students would be required to study at least two foreign languages and cultures, in addition to other courses that could help deal with bioterrorism and other threats.
"I'm not thinking of training James Bonds here," Moos said. "I think what we need are worldly, well-educated men and women who know a great deal more about the world than they do now.
"We have assumed for too long that the rest of the world is like us, and we are finding out that is not true. If we can have 18- and 19-year-olds taking college courses and becoming conversant in the world, we can only be better off for it."
Moos will be in Washington, D.C., this week as part of a national board reviewing scholarship applications, but he also has a meeting scheduled with Turner and will be talking with anyone else who can help advance the plan.
"What I need now is for a senator to become interested in it," Moos said, adding that he has written to Kansas Sens. Sam Brownback and Pat Roberts and Arizona Sen. John McCain. "I'm not thinking it will happen tomorrow, but I think it has a chance to maybe find someone who will introduce it as a bill."
Moos said he would like to see the program tested with about 100 students trained at 50 ROTC units across the country, including the one at KU.
"I know there will be some opposition," Moos said. "I know there will be some academics who will argue this will only serve to militarize our universities."
But Moos said the programs would be less militaristic than current ROTC programs and are clearly needed after the Sept. 11 attacks.