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DISSERTATION BECOMES TERRORIST TREASURE MAP

Great story in today's Washington Post:

Sean Gorman's professor called his dissertation "tedious and unimportant." Gorman didn't talk about it when he went on dates because "it was so boring they'd start staring up at the ceiling." But since the Sept. 11th attacks, Gorman's work has become so compelling that companies want to seize it, government officials want to suppress it, and al Qaeda operatives -- if they could get their hands on it -- would find a terrorist treasure map.Tinkering on a laptop, wearing a rumpled T-shirt and a soul patch goatee, this George Mason University graduate student has mapped every business and industrial sector in the American economy, layering on top the fiber-optic network that connects them...Using mathematical formulas, he probes for critical links, trying to answer the question: "If I were Osama bin Laden, where would I want to attack?" In the background, he plays the Beastie Boys.For this, Gorman has become part of an expanding field of researchers whose work is coming under scrutiny for national security reasons..."Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined I'd be briefing government officials and private-sector CEOs..."Invariably, he said, they suggest his work be classified. "Classify my dissertation? Crap. Does this mean I have to redo my PhD?" he said. "They're worried about national security. I'm worried about getting my degree...""He should turn it in to his professor, get his grade -- and then they both should burn it," said Richard Clarke, who until recently was the White House cyberterrorism chief. "The fiber-optic network is our country's nervous system."
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