Counter-Terrorism Simulation Exercise

This video (ten minutes long) presents a documentary short of a counter-terrorism simulation exercise I conducted in November, 2007 for students enrolled in my Global Perspectives on Counter-Terrorism class at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah. The course is based on my casebook, Global Perspectives on Counter-terrorism (Aspen Publishers). The exercise is one of the ways we are developing intensive leadership experiences for students both within and outside the classroom.

The class participates in a half-day simulation exercise that mirrors a potential crisis happening in real time. The students play the roles of key decision-makers (US President, CIA Director, FBI Director, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Judge, Prosecutor, Secretary of Homeland Security, et al) in an effort to understand from experience the dilemmas they face and how they make critical decisions predicated on minimal intelligence information.

The students are assigned roles two weeks before the simulation and are expected to prepare for the “position” from a legal and policy perspective. However, they do not know the facts ahead of time; rather, the events unfold during the course of the simulation via “dummied” newscasts. Thanks to Utah’s extraordinary IT team, the students (divided into three locations—DC, NYC and Paris) communicate via video-conferencing (with all of its attendant problems and tensions) in an effort to provide the President with legal and policy advice relevant to their position regarding the multiple fact patterns (potential bombing of NYC port, possibility of attack against US Ambassador in Paris, and potential suicide bomber on a plane).

Cross posted on The National Security Advisors Blog.